Many soils throughout the world are currently associated with soil erosion by wind and dust emissions. Dust emission processes have major implications for loss of soil resources (such as clays and nutrients) and human exposure to air pollution. This work provides a review on field experiments of dust emission based on previous studies, with new insight into the role of soil aggregation. The work focuses on dust processes in semi-arid soils that are subjected to increased agricultural land use. A boundary-layer wind tunnel has been used to study dust emission and soil loss by simulation and quantification of high-resolution wind processes. Field experiments were conducted in soil plots representing long-term and short-term influences of land uses such as agriculture, grazing, and natural preserves. The results show the impacts of soil disturbances by human activities on the soil aggregation and dust fluxes and provide quantitative estimates of soil loss over time. Substantial loss of PM10 (particulate matter [PM] that is less than 10 micrometers in diameter) was recorded in most experimental conditions. The measured PM10 fluxes highlight the significant implications for soil nutrient resources in annual balance and management strategies, as well as for PM loading to the atmosphere and the risk of air pollution.
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