Losing Ground

Soil Erosion and Cattle

Added 22 February 1997

Over the years, there have been many reports on the cause and effect relationship of cattle and soil erosion. The need now, is to be able to find those reports once again. Until then, here is an example found recently of a large scale erosional event exacerbated by cattle grazing:

On 20 December 1977, a massive windstorm lasting 24 hours whipped through the San Joaquin Valley. This windstorm moved 25 million tons of soil in a 375 square mile area of rangeland. That equates to 167 tons of soil removed per acre. As much as 23 inches of soil was removed from some foothills. United States Geological Survey (USGS) scientists studying the windstorm found distinct differences in erosion severity between grazed and ungrazed land. The grazed land suffered far greater erosion due to the storm than the ungrazed land. (pp. 44)

Sheridan, David, Desertification of the United States, Council on Environmental Quality, 1981.

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