Soil degradation is defined as the process which lowers the current or future capacity of the soil to produce goods or services. It implies long-term decline in soil productivity and its environment-moderating capacity. The concept of soil degradation was first used by Kostychiev and Korchinski in 1888 to describe a natural soil change. Since natural degradation is slow, the present concept of soil degradation according to the Global Assessment of Soil Degradation (GLASOD) focuses on a human-induced process. Soil degradation occurs because of drastic changes or disruption in the normal processes of soil formation due to human activities.
In a review paper on the problem of soil degradation in the Philippines published in the Annals of Tropical Research vol. 31, we (Asio et al) revealed that soil erosion is the most widespread process of soil degradation and is also the most studied in the country. Other important but less studied soil degradation processes include loss of nutrients and organic matter, salinization, acidification, pollution, compaction, and subsidence. Studies reviewed have shown that the widespread degraded upland soils possess chemical and physical constraints for crop growth like acidic or calcareous pH, low organic matter and nutrient contents, shallow solum, presence of toxic substances and compaction.
Asio VB, Jahn R, Perez FO, Navarrete IA, and Abit SM Jr. 2009. A review of soil degradation in the Philippines. Annals of Tropical Research 31: 69-94