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Methods of Soil Conservation

Sonal Panse
Good-quality soil leads to enriched lands, better crop yields, good financial returns, and a balanced environment. This story explains certain things to be considered in the process of soil conservation.
Soil conservation is an important issue, both in developing nations where a good portion of income is derived from agriculture and in developed nations where mechanized farming and an overabundant use of chemical fertilizers can sometimes have a detrimental effect on the land. It has a far-reaching effect on the environment and hence concerns all of us.
There is a growing need to prevent and control soil erosion and contamination. In addition to this, preserving the fertility of the soil is a matter of concern. Implementing various strategies and methods can help in stemming erosion of the soil, preserving the quality of the soil, and in increasing its productive capacity.
Good soil conversation leads to enriched lands, better crop yields, good financial returns, and a balanced environment.
In order to carry out effective soil conservation, you must first consider several aspects of the land in question. Here are some of the things that must be considered -

● Is there enough vegetative cover over the land or does it need to be developed?

● What are the proper erosion control methods that can be utilized and how will you implement them?
● What is the soil salinity level and how are you going to manage it?

● What is the soil acidity level and how it needs to be controlled?

● What is the soil mineral content and do you need to regularly add mineral supplements?
● Is the soil contaminated and, if so, what methods are you going to use to remediate it and to prevent future contamination?

● Are there beneficial soil organisms in the soil and are they allowed to thrive?

Methods For Soil Conservation

Plant dense rows of trees as wind breaks along the borders of the land, especially on the sides that are exposed to stiff winds. Their roots stabilize the soil and prevent it from being blown away by the wind.
Plant crops in rotation. Alternating crops helps avoid depleting the soil nutrients too fast. Plant cover crops. These stabilize the soil and reduce the effects of soil erosion. They also discourage the spread of weeds and help the soil retain its moisture in the summers.
Plow along the contour of the land. Plant crops parallel to the slope of the land.

Use Modern Techniques

Make use of the strip cropping technique. This involves planting grasses or pulses between regular crops like corn. The corn crop is not particularly effective in preventing soil erosion, but the grasses keep erosion in check.

Prevent Erosion

Add mulch to the soil surface. This prevents erosion by acting as a barrier and catching run-off water. Add coir logs as barriers. These are very useful in areas where too much erosion has taken place, act as erosion-preventing barriers, and support new-developing vegetation. Apart from coir barriers, sand bag and gravel bag barriers are also used.

Natural Remedies

Grow grass on slopes and in waterways. Grassed waterways prevent too much soil from being washed away. Keep the land fallow in order to rest it.

Adding Fertilizers

Make use of natural as well as man-made fertilizers. Manage the levels of salinity. In areas where irrigation is in excess or where the saline water tables are low, the salinity levels can go up and make the land unsuitable for agriculture. This problem can be resolved by the use of humic acid.

Maintaining pH Balance

Manage the soil pH. The soil pH is what determines the amount of nutrients that plants can absorb from the soil. Soil pH levels can be raised or decreased, as needed, by adding certain chemicals - for example, agriculture lime can be added for raising pH level and ammonium phosphate for reducing it.

Appending Natural Balancers

Encourage beneficial soil organisms like earthworms and nitrogen-fixing bacteria to thrive in the soil. The presence of such organisms enriches the soil.

Utilizing Synthetic Alternatives

Use man-made chemical insecticides, pesticides, and herbicides in very low amounts. Overuse of chemicals can poison the soil and kill the useful organisms, and is generally harmful to the environment.
Regularly add minerals to the soil. Minerals provide much-needed nutrients to the soil which are then absorbed by the plants. To mineralize the soil, add chemical supplements or try adding a crushed rock.