THERE'S GOOD NEWS, bad news and ugly news about soil erosion in Tennessee from the National Resources Inventory.

The good news is that the average rate of erosion from cropland in Tennessee has continued its 20 year decline. In the most current figures, the rate of erosion from all cropland averaged 5.6 tons per acre per year, and 7.7 tons per acre per year on cultivated cropland. Compared to five years earlier, this is down from 7.1 on all cropland and 9,1 on cultivated cropland.

These erosion levels are about half as high as 20 years ago. This decrease is due to the wide adoption of no-till systems on cropland and placing some of the most erodible land in the Conservation Reserve Program.

The bad news is that the rate of cropland erosion is still too high.

The ugly news is that Tennessee has the highest rate of erosion of cultivated cropland among the 50 states. It's about twice the tolerance level of two to five tons on each acre every year, depending on soil type.

We have made a lot of progress, but we still have a long way to go.