Erosion- Introduction


Soil erosion is a global problem. Each year, erosion costs billions of dollars in loss of land productivity, damage from soil sediment deposition and subsequent restoration costs, and harm to plant, animal, and human health due to air and water pollution. This lesson will consider the impacts of erosion at local, regional, national, and international levels. It will discuss how erosion occurs and the main factors that contribute to erosion. In addition, the different types of water and wind erosion will be discussed.

The lesson is written to target educational needs of lower level undergraduate students and is open for use by the public and educational institutions. Depending on the goals/objectives of a course, training, workshop, part or all sections of the lesson could be used.

Upon completing this lesson, a student should be able to:

  1. Describe the impacts of erosion on soil, water, and air quality.
  2. Describe the processes in water and wind erosion.
  3. Identify and analyze factors contributing to water and wind erosion of soil.
  4. Identify and describe the types of water and wind erosion.


  • Self-paced questions (‚ÄúThinking questions') are embedded within the lesson and are also available in printable worksheet format at the beginning of each page. These self-paced or thinking questions are intended to generate discussion. They can be used in classroom small group discussion. If the course is distance and the lesson is used to support course objectives, they can be used as online discussion threads.
  • Objective-based questions focusing on the fundamentals or principles of soil erosion and its impacts can be developed as an assessment tool.
  • A local, national, international erosion problem can be used as a case-study project for students to apply erosion and erosion control principles.
JNRLSE Approved 2005

Development of this lesson was supported in by USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, & Extension Service (USDA-CSREES), under Contract Number 2003-51130-02072. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the USDA-CSREES.