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Cost of Soil Erosion

Dominant scouring and undercutting with soil profile removal and trend toward rill and gully erosion.

Soil erosion has both on-site and off-site effects. Loss of soil productivity is the main on-site effect, while enhanced productivity of downstream land, sedimentation and eutrophication of waterways and reservoirs are common off-site effects. Estimations of soil erosion costs are therefore difficult and complex because the on-site effects are often compensated by the use of increased amounts of fertilizers that mask the productivity losses, and  because the cost of environmental goods and services depends very much on the point of view of the different stakeholders. Estimates of soil erosion costs are therefore widely variable and controversial.  At the extreme high side Pimentel et al (Science Magazine, 1995) stated that the total on- and off-site costs of damages by wind and water erosion and the cost of erosion prevention each year is 44,399,000,000 US$ in the USA alone. On the other extreme, Crosson  (Journal of Environmental Economics, 2007) estimated the loss in farm income in the USA per year at $100 million US$ only.