Soil Conservation methods With Detail Explanation

Soil Conservation methods

➢ Contour ploughing Contour ploughing orients crop furrows following the contour lines of the farmed area. Furrows move left and right to maintain a constant altitude, which reduces runoff.

➢ Terracing

• Terracing is the practice of creating nearly level areas in a hillside area.

• The terraces form a series of steps, each at a higher level than the previous.

• Terraces are protected from erosion by other soil barriers.

➢ Keyline design

Keyline design is an enhancement of contour farming, where the total watershed properties are taken into account in forming the contour lines.

➢ Perimeter runoff control

• Tree, shrubs and ground-cover are effective perimeter treatment for soil erosion prevention, by impeding surface flows.

• A special form of this perimeter or inter-row treatment is the use of a “grass way” that both channels and dissipates runoff through surface friction, impeding surface runoff and encouraging infiltration of the slowed surface water.

➢ Windbreaks

Windbreaks are sufficiently dense rows of trees at the windward exposure of an agricultural field subject to wind erosion. Evergreen species provide year-round protection; however, as long as foliage is present in the seasons of bare soil surfaces, the effect of deciduous trees may be adequate.

➢ Cover crops/crop rotation

Cover crops such as legumes, white turnip, radishes and other species are rotated with cash crops to blanket the soil year-round and act as green manure that replenishes nitrogen and other critical nutrients. Cover crops also help suppress weeds.

➢ Soil-conservation farming

• Soil-conservation farming involves no-till farming, “green manures” and other soil-enhancing practices. Such farming methods attempt to mimic the biology of barren lands.

• They can revive damaged soil, minimize erosion, encourage plant growth, eliminate the use of nitrogen fertilizer or fungicide, produce above-average yields and protect crops during droughts or flooding.

• The result is less labor and lower costs that increase farmers’ profits. No-till farming and cover crops act as sinks for nitrogen and other nutrients.

• This increases the amount of soil organic matter.

➢ Salinity management

Salinity in soil is caused by irrigating with salty water. Water then evaporates from the soil leaving the salt behind. Salt breaks down the soil structure, causing infertility and reduced growth.

The ions responsible for salination are: sodium (Na+), potassium (K+), calcium (Ca2+), magnesium (Mg2+) and chlorine (Cl-). Salinity is estimated to affect about one third of the earth’s arable land.

Soil salinity adversely affects crop metabolism and erosion usually follows.

➢ Soil organisms

Yellow fungus, a mushroom that assists in organic decay.

• When worms excrete excreta in the form of casts, a balanced selection of minerals and plant nutrients is made into a form accessible for root uptake.

• Earthworm casts are five times richer in available nitrogen, seven times richer in available phosphates and eleven times richer in available potash than the surrounding upper 150 millimetres (5.9 in) of soil.

• The weight of casts produced may be greater than 4.5 kg per worm per year. By burrowing, the earthworm improves soil porosity, creating channels that enhance the processes of aeration and drainage.

• Other important soil organisms include nematodes, mycorrizha and bacteria.

➢ Mineralization

• To allow plants full realization of their phytonutrient potential, active mineralization of the soil is sometimes undertaken.

• This can involve adding crushed rock or chemical soil supplements. In either case the purpose is to combat mineral depletion.

• A broad range of minerals can be used, including common substances such as phosphorus and more exotic substances such as zinc and selenium.

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