“NRCS is conducting an annual inventory to respond to the need for more timely natural resource information to support conservation policy development,” said NRCS Chief Bruce Knight. “This data release provides national level estimates on the status and trends for soil erosion, land use, and urbanization and development.”

Results from the 2001 Annual NRI on cropland soil erosion show:

  • Conservation efforts have reduced soil erosion substantially, from 3.1 billion tons per year in 1982 to 1.8 billion tons per year in 2001.
  • Between 1982 and 2001, sheet and rill erosion (the removal of layers of soil from the land surface by the action of rainfall and runoff) dropped from 4.0 tons per acre per year to 2.7 tons per acre per year. Wind erosion dropped from 3.3 tons per acre per year to 2.1 tons per acre per year during the same period.
Additional results and information on the 2001 Annual NRI are available on the Web at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/news/. This effort supports the administration’s management initiative for expanding e-Government by providing easy access to useful information. Information on previous NRIs is available at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/NRI/.

Results from the 2002 Annual NRI will be released in early 2004 and will include additional national level results and some regional estimates. The spectrum of results will continue to increase as the annual NRI process becomes fully established over the next several years.

Future NRIs will look at new topics, including conservation benefits, grazing land condition and soil quality.

The NRI was conducted every 5 years between 1977 and 1997, providing the basis for natural resource status and trend analysis since 1982. The annual NRI continues to support long-term trend analyses, but will provide updates more frequently than the previous inventory approach.

NRCS has conducted the NRI in cooperation with Iowa State University’s Center for Survey Statistics and Methodology since the inventory’s inception.

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