Soil conservation is the practice of protecting and preserving the quality and fertility of soil. This can be done through a variety of techniques, such as terracing, crop rotation, contour plowing, and the use of cover crops.
The goal of soil conservation is to prevent erosion, maintain soil productivity, and preserve natural resources for future generations. It also includes practices like agroforestry, conservation tillage, and restoration of degraded land.
It helps to improve the soil health and fertility as well as water holding capacity, which results in better crop yields and reduced risk of crop failure due to drought.
The following are Soil Conservation methods
This is the planting of different crops on the same piece of land.
it can also be defined as the movement of crops from site to site on the farm in a planned sequence
This helps to control monoculture and its effects.
advantages of crop rotation
- it interrupts pest-host cycles and prevent the buldup of pests weed and pathogens.
- it allows crops to access nutrients from different soil depths basing on their rooting characteristics
- intergrating cover crops and fallow periods into rotation help build soil organic matter and improve aggregation
Afforestation and re-afforestation
here, trees are planted in areas where they have been cleared or areas where trees have never been planted. The planted trees help in controlling the effects of heavy raindrops and the speed of the wind, which are major agents of erosion.
This is the covering of soil with different materials e.g. grass so that it can be able to store moisture in the soil. The stored moisture then helps to keep the soil intact hence reducing soil erosion.
Controlled grazing e.g. paddocking, zero-grazing, and tethering
This can help to reduce the effects of overgrazing like eating up all the vegetation from the ground.
Application of fertilizers/Manure
this will help to hold soil partials together, hence reducing soil erosion.
This is the planting of grass between strips of crops and the grass helps to trap the moving soil.
this is where cultivation takes place along contours on a hill. Farmers cultivate around a hill and not up and down the hill to prevent soil run-offs. It’s common in Kigezi among the Bakiga and the Kenyan highlands.
Controlling bush burning
which is a necessary measure, especially among the nomads.
Using the Umatengo system
here, pits are dug on steep slopes to trap eroded soil, and plants are cultivated between the pits. This system is mainly used among the Matengo people of South-Eastern Tanzania.
measures should be enforced so that pressure on land is reduced e.g. resettling people away from highland areas to lowland areas.
This method is to break up the sloping land into steps. A bench terrace is a broad bank of earth, with gently sloping sides contouring the field.
The system looks like a set of steps.
The purpose of this soil conservation measure is to reduce the speed and amount of run-off water and to ensure proper land use
This method breaks up a long slope into a series of short slopes so that the water runoff would be interrupted or prevented from running down the slope. Practices employed are:
- The crops are planted between the two hill side ditches. A cover-crop or mulch must be used.
- The ditch is done along the contour of the slope.
- The planting of grass or small trees on the land around a gully.
- Check dams can be built across gullies to reduce the speed with which the water flows
- Crops can be grown in ridges, which would be along the slope.
- Ridges are similar to terracing but are smaller. This would prevent water from running straight down the hill.
- Contour ploughing along the slope of the land would prevent the formation of rills and gullies.
- Planting different crops in strips which run along the contours helps to control erosion. When one crop is harvested, only a fraction or single band would be exposed at a time. Thus the runoff would be very slow.
- The soil structure should be maintained by ensuring that an adequate amount of humus is present.
goals of sustainable soil health management program
- to sustain high crop productivity and crop quality in food and fibre production
- to minimize environmental quality and human health risk associated with agricultural production