Combinations of techniques are employed in soil conservation to prevent soil degradation. To save soil, one must first approach it as a living ecosystem. This entails routinely adding organic matter back into the soil.
Farmers are particularly concerned about soil conservation since it is essential to use land productively, generating high yields, as well as being able to do so in the future.
Even though the impacts of soil conservation may not be immediately apparent, future generations will benefit from them.
By using integrated weed and pest control approaches, various soil conservation techniques help to reduce erosion, maintain fertility, prevent degradation, and reduce natural pollution brought on by chemicals.
Soil conservation techniques make a significant contribution to the environment’s and resources’ sustainability.
Table of Contents
Methods of Soil Conservation
- Checking Overgrazing
- Constructing Dams
- Conservation Tillage
- Contour Farming
- Strip Cropping
- Crop Rotation
- Cover Crops
- Buffer Strips
- Grassed Waterways
- Integrated Pest Management
- Step Away from Synthetic Fertilizers And Pesticides
- Bank Stabilization
- Ecological or Organic Growing
- Sediment Control
- Integrated Pest Management
The minimal amount of forest land for the entire nation that is deemed healthy for soil and water conservation is, as they say, between 20 and 25 percent.
Nevertheless, it was increased to 33% in the second five-year plan, with 20% going to lowlands and 60% going to hilly and mountainous areas.
2. Checking Overgrazing
Grazing is essential. However, excessive grazing on grasslands and woods by animals, particularly herds and flocks of sheep and goats, should be checked properly.
One can designate unique grazing areas. There should be a greater emphasis on growing alternative feed crops.
3. Constructing Dams
Water speed may be monitored, which significantly reduces soil erosion.
4. Conservation Tillage
By covering the soil with vegetation (either crops or their residues) and reducing the number of tilling operations, conservation tillage tries to combat wind and water erosion. Depending on the type of soil, choosing the right time for field operations is an important additional consideration.
For instance, it is better to till clay soil after harvesting than other soil types, which are better plowed before seeding. Compaction of wet soils occurs as a result of handling.
Since no-till farming involves little to no disturbance and seeding crop residue, it also aids in soil conservation. The fundamental concept is to avoid leaving the soil naked because plants’ root systems help to hold it in place and bare areas are far more likely to erode. Furthermore, foliage stores moisture for upcoming crops.
5. Contour Farming
In slope areas, the soil conservation technique works well and advises planting species following the contour. While rows along the contour halt soil erosion, rows up and down the slope cause it as a result of water currents. Terracing has a similar effect in that it aids in soil conservation and slows down the degrading processes.
6. Strip Cropping
When maize grows in strips alongside forage crops, for example, farmers combine high-growing crops with low-growing ones for wind protection. When high-growing crops are concentrated on the sides where winds blow most frequently, the strip cropping technique performs even better. The organic matter from the low crops is an added benefit.
As the name implies, this method of soil conservation reduces the force of winds and their damaging impact on the soil. These are trees or bushes that are placed in many rows to protect crops from snow and wind.
We can differentiate shelterbelts and windbreaks correctly (up to five rows) depending on the number of rows. (six and more). In addition to giving wildlife a place to live, windbreak vegetation protects crops from soil erosion caused by strong winds.
7. Crop Rotation
Contrary to monocropping, crop rotation encourages the growth of a variety of agricultural species rather than the same one throughout several seasons. Farmers who use this technique for soil conservation gain greatly.
Crop rotation aids in the improvement of the soil’s structure through the use of different root systems, the reduction of pest infestations, and the addition of nitrogen to the soil via legumes, which are nitrogen-fixing plants.
For each agricultural operation, a certain set of crops should be rotated, and this decision is heavily influenced by past weather and productivity data. In recent years, some plants demonstrated their efficiency, while others did not.
These details, together with daily weather reports and projections out to two weeks, including precipitation, minimum and maximum temperatures, and projected dangers, are available on EOSDA Crop Monitoring.
Additionally, vegetation indices including NDVI, MSAVI, NDMI, and ReCI support crop health assessments at every stage of plant development. EOSDA Crop Monitoring helps in a thorough examination of the state of the field and crops with this toolkit set.
8. Cover Crops
Another way to prevent bare soils is by using this soil conservation technique. Cover crops, or secondary species, are planted in between growing cash crops for a variety of benefits, including:
- Producing forage and grazing material for cattle;
- Providing green manure; helping to control weeds;
- Retaining moisture;
- Ensuring a natural environment for microorganisms and small animals;
- Balancing nitrogen concentration (either releasing or accumulating it with other nutrients).
9. Buffer Strips
To stop silt and water wash-offs, there are trees and plants on the banks of water bodies. Their canopies shade water residents from excessive sunshine, their roots stabilize the soil to prevent slumping and erosion, and their falling leaves provide organic matter and food for small aquatic species.
10. Grassed Waterways
Its name accurately describes it as a grassed watercourse. This is a grass-covered water stream trough. The grassroots hold the earth in place, preventing water erosion and helping to save soil. It is connected to a ditch, pit, or current to collect water.
11. Integrated Pest Management
Pests are a big source of annoyance for farmers and have proved difficult to control while pesticides pollute the environment by seeping into the water supply and the atmosphere.
When possible, it’s necessary to replace synthetic pesticides with organic ones or to build biological enemies of pests. It’s also important to rotate crop varieties to reduce the risk of pest populations growing over time in the same area.
12. Step Away from Synthetic Fertilizers And Pesticides
The use of chemicals to eradicate weed and pest infestations is bad for the environment and counterproductive to soil conservation. This is why transitioning to alternate approaches to the issue is crucial in agriculture, specifically in organic farming.
When fertility is restored by the use of compost, crop rotation, green and animal manure, and other methods, these alternatives are biological and cultural.
13. Bank Stabilization
Any technique used to keep soil in place on a bank or a river is referred to as bank stabilization. The soil can be removed in this area by surface runoff, ice, waves, and stream current.
Reduced soil erosion, improved water quality, and an improved visual environment are advantages of bank stabilization.
Rip rap, gabion baskets, and re-vegetation are three techniques that are frequently employed to stop stream bank erosion. The first two techniques cushion the impact of stream water on the bank and safeguard the loose soil surface below by using loose rock.
Loose rock on a steep bank is ripping rap. Rip rap has the advantage that the rock will flex under the weight of ice and frost, whereas concrete may shatter. Gabion baskets are filled with wire rocks. The wire stops the rock from moving. They are often employed in areas with steeper slopes and faster-moving water.
Shoreline planting is another method for stabilizing stream banks. Natural grasses, shrubs, and trees retain silt and restrict the flow of water over the soil, keeping it out of the water.
Native shrubs like red osier dogwood and sweet gale can quickly take root, reduce erosion, and enhance the appearance of the water’s edge. Additionally, these shrubs offer wonderful habitats for wildlife.
14. Ecological or Organic Growing
By using methods like crop rotation, conservation tillage, adding compost and manure to the soil, and avoiding or eliminating the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, organic or ecological gardening cultivates rich, long-term balanced soil fertility.
Fertilizers typically don’t give the organic matter that natural fertilizers provide; instead, they only replenish macronutrients (phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium). The majority of pesticides lack selection. They can also kill insects and microorganisms that are vital to soil fertility in addition to the targeted pests.
From a small backyard to a large commercial farm, organic soil management can be used, albeit the specific methods will differ. The fundamental idea is to consider the requirements of soil-dwelling organisms, ensuring the natural cycling of nutrients and the return of organic matter to the soil. All organisms that are good for the soil, and plants or that aid in the suppression of pest organisms will be preserved.
The goal of organic farming is never to entirely eradicate pests. Pesticides are unable to accomplish this. Instead, the goal is to have a healthy soil ecology with a reasonable amount of pest damage.
15. Sediment Control
Even with the best intentions, water erosion frequently happens on urban construction projects. Therefore, measures must be made to prevent the sediment or silt from being washed away by the water and transferred to a neighboring storm sewer or stream.
On the land being developed, a silt fence can be utilized to keep silt in. By filtering runoff and capturing the silt behind a filter cloth, it does this. By slowing down the wind, this structure can help lessen the amount of earth that is blown from a construction site.
The typical design for a sediment trap is a filter cloth and crushed stone barrier that is placed over an entry to the storm sewer system. Sediment traps can take many different shapes. The fabric keeps the smaller particles out of the storm drain while the stone slows down the pace of the larger particles.
If vast expanses of soil must be exposed for an extended period on a construction site, a sedimentation pond is very crucial. The pond typically consists of a sizable depression that permits sediment-filled runoff waters to be temporarily contained.
The depression’s size is determined by the drainage area. This runoff storage slows it down, allowing soil particles to disperse or sink to the bottom. The clean water is then removed from the surface and directed to a suitable discharge into a ditch or stream.
The aforementioned sediment controls only continue to work effectively provided they are regularly maintained, just like any other way of conserving soil. Sediment must be carefully removed and stabilized after it has been gathered using these measures. This will make it possible for these measures to properly remove silt.
16. Integrated Pest Management
The goal of integrated pest management (IPM) is to use fewer chemical pesticides and hence lower environmental concerns. Crop rotation is the IPM’s foundation. Pests are starved out and less likely to return in large numbers the next year by rotating crops from year to year.
Pest management through crop rotation has been demonstrated to be successful. In addition to using pest-resistant crops, IPM also employs biological measures to reduce pest populations, such as the discharge of pest predators or parasites.
Even though IPM could take more time, there is no denying the benefits of a safer environment and lower pesticide-buying expenses.
The majority of the information discussed above is mostly related to agriculture. However, the ideas hole for all land uses. Foresters and construction workers alike must employ buffer strips and preserve stream banks.
By comprehending the natural flow of watercourses, the layout of the land, and the requirement for organic matter and a diversified ecosystem, they can prevent significant erosion problems and conserve soil resources.
In most cases, trees are removed from construction sites to safeguard the soil for as long as possible, areas are frequently stripped completely of vegetation before the soil is exposed.
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A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.