Snoil

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Soil has blown off the ploughed field and through the dyke, turning the leeward side brown

There has been a muttering online about “snoil”. The word was coined on social media to describe the erosion of topsoil in dry weather and high winds, particularly when the “blow-off” becomes obvious in drifts of snow. There are some really impressive examples of “snoil” photographed in England, but it’s worth recording a little snoil of my own in Galloway.

I wanted to plough early so that the frost could get into the ground and help to break up clods and clumps of soil. I was advised to let the field weather for several weeks before working with it again, but nobody couldhave predicted the last week in Galloway. Driving winds and battering snow have cast the earth like bronze, and my recently ploughed field has borne the brunt of a brutal easterly wind. The furrows have been raked and battered, and this seemed ideal at first. But soon I started to notice muddy brown snow in the lee of the hill, and closer examination revealed that I was losing a tiny amount of topsoil. It’s important to emphasise that the quantities are really tiny and if you could gather all those particles back together again, it would probably only half-fill a small bucket. At the same time, it’s crucial to note how fragile soils can be. In this case, the dust has simply blown into our next door field, but I wouldn’t like to see it draining away down watercourses and out into the Solway.

This is something to bear in mind for next winter, but it’s also important to keep it in context as a very marginal case in a very small area.

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“snoil”

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