Tips on Soil Conservation
Soil conservation is the preventing of soil loss from erosion or reduced fertility caused by over usage, acidification, salinization or other chemical soil contamination – Wikipedia
For you to have healthy plants, you need healthy soil. We need to take care of our soil as much as we do our plants. We have to maintain its nutrients, give a good habitat for soil organisms and give our plants the best medium for growth.
Soil tends to lose its fertility due to different reasons. These are farming practices, erosion, and pollution. Soil conservation maintains soil fertility, prevents erosion and improves the degraded condition of the soil. We have to engage in certain conservation techniques in order to maintain soil health.
Here are some of the soil conservation techniques:-
- No-Till Farming
Practising no-till farming means crops remain in place for a season. This approach keeps the soil from exposure to wind and water. This, in turn, ensures soil conservation is undertaken.
- Terrace Farming
Terracing is the practice of creating almost level areas in a hillside. The terraces form a series of steps, each at a higher level than the previous. Terracing slows water flow and protects the soil from erosion. It also encourages growth from moist areas.
- Contour Farming
Contour farming replicates the effects of terrace farming, but on a smaller scale. Rather than planting crops in straight vertical rows, crops are planted following the contour of the landscape. Crops planted up and down hillsides create pathways for water to flow. Crops planted parallel to the land slow the flow of water that prevents soil erosion.
- Crop Rotation
Planting different crops in the same soil works to conserve soil. This process helps to suppress weeds & pests. It also replenishes nutrients found in the soil. This makes your soil healthier. Here is a great article on Why You Should Practice Crop Rotation on your farm to give you more insight on this.
- Watering of the Soil
Water your soil and plants early in the morning. This is the best time to do it because evaporation is low. Watering in harsh sunlight can dry out the soil. In the late evening, watering can cause the growth of fungus. Moist soil is not in danger of erosion due to wind activity.
- Maintaining Soil pH
Finding out what your soil pH is, is very important in farming. Doing a soil test is a good way to find out what your soil’s pH levels are. This way, you can learn what you need to add to ensure you have healthy soil. Here is a great article on Importance of Soil Testing that you may find useful.
Mulch is a covering placed over soils to protect it from both water and wind erosion. It also helps the soil retain water content. Mulching is a good practice for the conservation of soil moisture, maintain soil temperature and minimize erosion. They are also very helpful in helping us keep our farms disease-free. Here is a great article on How to Prevent Pests & Diseases In Tomatoes that you may find useful.
- Tree Planting
Planting trees is a well-known method of soil conservation that reduces soil erosion and encourages water absorption. As the trees grow, they become more secure in the ground. Their roots spread deep into the layers of the soil, thus preventing soil erosion. In addition to this, trees act as windbreakers.
- Track Grazing
Conservation of soil can be achieved through monitoring where animals graze. This practice helps in the prevention of soil depletion. Some farmers practice zero grazing while giving their grazing areas time to “rest”.
- Buffer Strips
You can create buffer strips with grass, trees, and shrubs. They provide protection where stream banks exist. Buffer strips help hold stream banks intact during times of flooding. They also prevent runoff from entering waterways.
- Use a rain barrel.
Collecting rainwater that runs off of your roof is a good way to conserve soil and water. Instead of the water splashing down from the roof, you can collect it and use in the household or farm.
Afforestation means planting foliage in forest undergrowth areas. It means protecting the areas under trees. This works to encourage healthy soil and water absorption.
Here is a great article on the Importance of Soil Conservation that you might find helpful.
For more information on environmental issues/ news, visit The Ministry of Environment & Natural Resources here.