Air and greenhouse gas emissions

Soil movement

Soil displacement is an adverse phenomenon that causes physical degradation of the soil.

This displacement can be the result of:

  • tillage operations that cause significant soil aeration, resulting in accelerated decomposition of soil organic matter,
  • Water erosion caused by the splashing of soil due to the impact of water droplets on the soil surface, followed by surface scour (the flushing away of soil particles detached from the surface by an intense stream of water). Water erosion occurs on slopes and is greater the steeper the slope,
  • wind erosion, i.e. the detachment and movement of soil particles caused by strong winds,
  • the removal of soil from the field on the tyres of tractors and agricultural machinery.

The consequence of moving the soil is a significant reduction in its productivity and the escape of carbon – in the form of dioxide – into the atmosphere. In the soil, especially in its upper layer, there is a natural accumulation of carbon in the form of organic matter. Among other things, organic matter, or rather the organic carbon compounds it contains, is an important component for plant growth and yield. Soil movement disturbs the arrangement of the natural layers in the soil profile and results in the depletion of organic matter in the soil of fields. Organic matter accumulated where soil displaced by erosion is deposited is easily oxidised and carbon in the form of carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere.

The best way to prevent all of the above-mentioned disadvantages is to keep the field surface constantly covered with vegetation (crops, catch crops, catch crops or crop residues). In hilly terrain, it is also important that all agrotechnical measures are carried out transversely (perpendicular to the slope). It is also a good idea, when leaving the field, to clear the soil from the tyres.

Poland is the third country in the European Union in terms of area under simplified cultivation. They currently account for less than 5 per cent of all cultivation (about 450,000 hectares), mostly in the west of Poland. According to a report (2017) by the European Conservation Agriculture Association (ECAF), by switching to simplified cultivation, Polish farmers can reduce carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere by as much as 15 million tonnes per year. By implementing sustainable farming practices, it is estimated that by binding in the soil, around 15% of man-made greenhouse gas emissions can be offset, while increasing soil fertility and productivity.