Soil erosion refers to the excessive erosion of soils due to improper land use by humans. These include the elimination of protective vegetation through overgrazing or deforestation or too short fallow periods. The loss of the topsoil is particularly problematic, i.e. the most fertile and the most important part of the soil for agriculture. Continuing soil erosion initially causes a deterioration of soil quality (soil degradation). The area affected by soil degradation worldwide has increased to more than 1.2 billion hectares since 1945. This corresponds to approximately the area of China and India together. Degradation can ultimately lead to the soil completely losing its agricultural usability (soil devastation).