Soil management under dry conditions can lead to the creation of dust (© André Künzelmann/UFZ)

By Bartosz Bartkowski, Kerstin Schepanski, Simon Bredenbeck, and Birgit Muller.

This Plain Language Summary is published ahead of the article discussed; check back soon for a link to the full paper.

Wind erosion in agriculture is an environmental problem that people often overlook. When wind moves soil material as dust, this has numerous adverse consequences – the field of origin loses fertile soil; dust can affect health; and dust can lead to infrastructure damage and accidents (e.g. car crashes due to reduced visibility). Both farmers and people living in the affected region suffer. Under climate change, many parts of Europe are likely to experience more frequent dry periods. Under dry and windy conditions, wind erosion is more likely. We still have little understanding of this problem in Europe. There is a strong need for integrated research across different scientific disciplines to understand specific questions related to wind erosion:

  1. How exactly will climate change affect wind erosion risk?
  2. What are the specific consequences of wind erosion on public health and ecosystems?
  3. How can society support farmers in mitigating wind erosion?
  4. What do the necessary changes in management imply for other environmental challenges (e.g. biodiversity or climate protection)?

To be successful, this research also needs to involve those affected, including farmers, citizens and policy makers.