Farmers can also engage in a variety of other conservation initiatives. Soil erosion rates can be considerably reduced by any single conservation strategy. It is frequently more beneficial to combine a variety of soil conservation methods. A soil loss rate of 6.7 tonnes per hectare per year would be excellent. This is an approximate estimate of how quickly soil may regenerate. Two major measures of prevention are to ensure that there are constantly plants growing on the soil and that the soil is rich in organic materials. Organic matter acts as a glue that holds soil particles together, preventing erosion. Crop rotation and the use of organic fertilisers can help enhance soil organic matter. Crop rotation can also help to improve soil structure. Farmers also utilise a variety of additional techniques to minimise soil erosion. Mulching is an example of this. It entails spreading hay or straw across a field in place of a cover crop.
To avoid soil erosion, some of the following procedures can be implemented:
- The usage of windbreaks and contour ploughing
- Between ploughed acres, leave grass strips unploughed (strip cropping)
- Ensure that there are always plants growing on the soil and that it is humus-rich.
- Overgrazing should be avoided.
- Allow native plants to flourish near riverbanks.
- Wetlands should be preserved.
- Use a crop rotation strategy to cultivate land.
- Tillage should be kept to a bare minimum or not at all.
- Reduce water runoff by encouraging water infiltration.
Practical methods of soil conservation are broadly grouped as follows:
(A) Biological indicators
(B) Engineering or mechanical procedures.
A. Biological Measures:
The biological techniques listed below are beneficial in preventing soil erosion:
1. Agronomic practices:
Conservation farming or advanced agronomical technologies are key agricultural strategies that contribute to the conservation and production of farmed areas. The following is a list of them:
I. Farming on the contour
Tillage and keeping the ground fallow are the second and third points to consider.
III. Crop rotation, leguminous crop planting, and mixed cropping
Mulching is the fourth step.
V. Cropping in strips
(i) Contour farming:
It is done on the hills or in mountainous areas. Because of its rapid downhill travel on the slopes, ram water is absorbed in extremely small amounts in such regions. Heavy rains may trigger gully formation if these sloppy regions are ploughed up and down the hill. The sloppy portions are ploughed and seeded against the slope, i.e. in circular furrows around the slopes, to account for this flaw. Contour farming is the name for this method.
(ii) Tillage operation and keeping the land fallow:
Whether deep ploughing or shallow ploughing produces better results is a matter of debate. A number of studies back up the idea that shallow ploughing produces better crop yields in dry areas. Weeds are removed and the soil is able to absorb water after shallow ploughing. Deep ploughing of land causes soil erosion, however in locations with enough rainfall, deep ploughing (up to 15-30 cm deep) is useful at removing weeds and increasing crop yields.
The soil becomes fruitful if the area is left uncultivated and sheep, goats, and other livestock are permitted to graze and sit on it for a period of time. Though this approach is beneficial, it is not feasible in nations such as India, where there is a serious food shortage due to a large population.
(iii) Crop rotation, sowing of legumes and mixed cropping:
When the same crop is cultivated in the same field year after year, certain minerals are depleted in the soil. Even with fertilisers, the soil loses its fertility, and erosion eventually sets in. Crop rotation is an essential approach for preventing soil erosion and sustaining soil productivity. In the fields, the crop should be replaced after two years.
A cultivated row crop, densely planted tiny grasses, and a spreading legume or a legume and grass combination should all be included in a healthy rotation. Climate, economic conditions, soil types, soil texture, slopes, erosion nature, and other factors should all be considered while choosing crops for rotation. Shallow-rooted crops should be rotated in between deep-rooted ones.
Crop rotation is beneficial for the following reasons:
1. It improves the soil’s fertility.
2. Improves the texture of the soil
3. Increases the soil’s ability to store water.
4. It boosts agricultural yields.
5. Prevents the spread of weeds and illnesses.
It refers to the process of covering the soil surface with straw, leaves, or grasses. Mulches of various types reduce soil erosion, improve soil fertility, and reduce moisture loss from top soils. Various forms of surface tillers and crop residues aid in impeding soil particle migration.
(v) Strip cropping:
Contour farming, correct tillage, crop rotation, mulching, cover cropping, and other sophisticated cultivation methods are all used in this system. Strip cropping is a very successful and practical method of soil erosion management.
It comes in the following varieties:
(a) Contour strip cropping,
b) Strip cropping on the field
b) Cropping using a wind strip, and
d) Buffer strip cropping (permanent or temporary)
2. Agrostological methods:
The following are some of the most essential agronomic methods for preventing soil erosion:
(i) Grassland cultivation
(ii) Land retirement.
(iii) Afforestation and reforestation
(iv) Overgrazing is monitored.
(i) Cultivation of grasses (Ley farming):
The grasses are grown in a rotation with agricultural crops in this way. This approach promotes soil fertility and aids in soil binding, hence avoiding soil erosion. This method is advised for the Nilgiris and other areas where severe soil erosion is a problem.
(ii) Retiring the land:
Grassy areas that are prone to soil erosion should be covered with a thick layer of grass. Grazing should be allowed for limited periods of time under favourable climatic circumstances. Researchers in Solapur, Maharashtra, discovered that grasses had a high potential for soil binding. Tamil Nadu doobgrass (Cynodon dactylon), Dectylis glomerata, Eragrostis amabitis, and E. cerbula have been shown to be the most successful in soil binding and maintaining bench terrace reserves and sodding water channels in the Nilgiri highlands.
(iii) Afforestation and reforestation:
Afforestation is the process of planting trees in areas where there were previously none due to a lack of trees or undesirable conditions such as unstable soil, aridity, or swampiness. Reforestation is the process of rebuilding forests that have been devastated by uncontrolled forest fires, excessive logging, and lopping. A wind break is a small-scale planting of trees, whereas a shelter belt is a large-scale planting of trees.
B. Mechanical Methods:
Engineers have only recently begun to pay attention to the problem of soil erosion. Mechanical soil conservation approaches comprise a variety of engineering techniques and structures that are used to enhance biological methods when they aren’t successful enough.
The following goals are pursued with these practises:
- Reduce the velocity of run-off water and keep it for a long time so that the soil can absorb and hold the greatest amount of water.
- To split a long slope into multiple tiny sections in order to limit run-off water velocity to a minimum, and
- Protection from wind and water erosion.
Mechanical methods for soil conservation are:
1. Basin leaching,
2. Pan breaking,
3. Sub soiling,
4. Contour terracing,
5. Contour trenching,
6. Terrace outlets,
7. Gully control,
8. Digging of ponds and reservoirs, and
9. Stream bank protection.
(i) Basin leaching:
With this procedure, a basin blister is used to create a series of miniature basins (water reservoirs) along the contour. Basins trap and stabilise downwardly sliding slope soils as well as collecting and retaining rain water for lengthy periods of time.
(ii) Pan breaking:
Because to the creation of a hard film of clay a few feet below the surface, soils in some regions become impermeable to water and less productive. Hard clay pans can be broken on contour with a pan breaker at a distance of around 5 feet to make these regions productive and water permeable. Rainwater drainage and percolation are enhanced, and soil is protected from residual run-off and erosion, thanks to pan breaking.
Using a tool known as a subs oiler, hard subsoil is fractured thoroughly in this process. This procedure encourages rainwater absorption in the soil and makes the soil more flexible and suited for luxuriant plant growth.
(iv) Contour terracing:
To keep water in the soil and prevent soil erosion, drainage channels, correctly spaced ridges, or soil mounds are sometimes created along the contour (at right angles to the slope). Terraces are what they’re called. Terraces are flat regions built at an inclination to the slope to prevent soil erosion.
(vii) Gully and ravine control:
The following approaches can be used to check for gully formation:
- To control the flow of water through gullies, perimeter bunds are built around them.
- To prevent soil erosion, appropriate soil-binding plants should be planted along the gullies.
- Around gullies, diversion ditches should be dug.
(viii) Ponds and reservoirs:
Small ponds, water reservoirs, and dams should also be built in appropriate locations for irrigation and other reasons. Dams of various forms have been created to stop and fill gullies, therefore preventing soil erosion. These dams might be dangerous.
(a) brush dams
(b) earth dams,
(c) concrete dams or
(d) woven wire dams.
(ix) Stream bank protection:
Heavy soil erosion occurs along the banks of ravines and rivers with steep vertical drops. Bank erosion can be prevented by making the drop sloppy, planting plants on the slopes, or building stone or concrete pitch.
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