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Erosion washes away the nutrient rich humus that topsoil is composed of. Topsoil has a number of nutrients, such as nitrogen and carbon, that are essential to plant life. The porosity of topsoil also allows plant roots to penetrate the soil and extract water from it. Erosion from wind may combine with drought to create desert like conditions hostile to plant life. This process was the main cause of the Dust Bowl that effected the lives of millions of people in the Midwestern U.S. during the 1930s.
Erosion is bad because it can contaminate water sources (runoff), it degrades the soil and prevents plants from growing, and plants help hold water in soil and cannot do so in areas with erosion (which exacerbates drought conditions). In addition, erosion can damage properties by causing areas to slide or sink as soil erodes around or under it.
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