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Soil erosion in the West Midlands: An act of God or agricultural mismanagement?



Extreme soil erosion and flooding of roads and properties from agricultural (and have been reported in many areas of the United Kingdom. This article reports the impact of a major storm and soil erosion incident which occurred in the village of Ashow, Warwickshire, on 30 August 1996, where erosion rates on a 16ha field were found to be equivalent to circa. 5000 tonnes per square kilometre. Four groups of factors are considered in relation to the damage caused to roads and properties. These include the possible decrease in soil resistance to erosion due to continuous cultivation over many centuries; the removal of hedgerows; the way in which seed beds are prepared and the timing of seed bed preparation in relation to the likelihood of autumn thunderstorms. Whilst flooding is regarded as an Act of God for insurance purposes we argue that in specific instances erosion and flooding may be caused more by farming practice than by an Act of God, and that farmers need to be more aware of the likelihood of severe storms should assess risks of erosion, and should adjust their practices accordingly.

Author(s): Foster, I; Harrison, S; Clark, D

Journal: Geography

Year: 1997