Soil conservation measures should aim at preventing or at least minimising the soils loss. In order to do this proper land utilisation coupled with agricultural practices should be adopted.
Broadly categorizing there are two methods of soil conservation. These are biological and mechanical. The biological measures are again divided into Agronomic, Agrostilogical and Dry farming we shall study these measures in some detail.
1. Agronomic practices:
Normally, the land will possess a vegetational cover so as to prevent erosion. The measures to be followed must be patterned along the nature’s own methods of conservation. The following are some of the methods.
2. Contour farming:
Crops are cultivated along the contour of the land. The plough marks will be on level and can hold the rain. Even in heavy rain, the runoff is checked by the plants growing along the contour. Tillage: contour tilling will prevent the excess run of water.
Interculturing operations will kill weeds and soil mulches help the plants to be rooted firmly in the soil.
4. Crop rotations:
Alternatively growing a cereal and a legume in the same field will not only increase the yield, but also increase the fertility of the soil. They also help in checking soil erosion.
5. Strip cropping:
This is an agricultural practice of growing plants in suitable strips in the field. This is of the following types.
6. Contour strip cropping:
This is cultivation of soil protecting crops in strips alternating with erosion permitting crops. The strips should be across the slope.
7. Field strip cropping:
Plants are cultivated in parallel strips across the slopes. Wind strip cropping: Crops are planted across the slopes to prevent soil loss. These may be legumes or grasses.
8. Agrostological measures:
Cultivation of grass in a land which is heavily eroded is called an agrostological measure. This is of two types. In ley farming grass is cultivated in rotation with regular crops. This helps in soil protection as well as produce fodder to cattle. If a land is heavily eroded it is best to allow it to the growth of grasses for few years. This will help in the checking of erosion.
9. Dry farming method:
This may be practised where rainfall is low, indefinite and variable. In dry farming methods only crops are grown that can sustain even a very low rainfall. The most important aspects of dry farming are conservation of soil moisture and fertility.
10. Mechanical -Measures:
The main aims of mechanical measures are to allow for the absorption of run off, dividing the slope into short ones and protection against run off. A few of the mechanical measures are discussed below:
11. Basin listing:
Small basins are formed along the contour with an implement called basin lister. These will hold water for some time.
12. Sub soiling:
Soil is broken with a sub soiler into fine grains to increase their absorptive capacity.
13. Contour terracing:
Along the contour, series of ridges or bunds of mud are formed to check the run off. This is of four types. In channel terrace a shallow channel is dug and the mud is deposited along the lower edge of the canal. In broad base ridge terrace a canal is formed on the contour by exavating the mud. The canal is wide. If it is narrow it is called narrow based ridge terrace. In bench terracing a series of platforms are formed along the contour across the general slope of the plant.
14. Contour trenching:
Several 2 feet by one foot trenches are formed across the slopes at suitable intervals. Tree seedlings are to be planted above the trench.
15. Terrace outlet:
Outlets are to be constructed for the safe disposal of runoff water.
16. Gully control:
Suitable water conservation measures are to be taken so as to prevent the formation of gullies.
Construction of small ponds at suitable places to store water is a good practice.
18. Stream bank protection:
Banks of channels or rivers usually cave in during floods. To prevent this, construction of stone or concrete protective walls should be undertaken. In addition to this, planting some useful tree species will also prevent stream bank erosion.