Control of Soil Erosion to Improve Soil Health and Agriculture Production

Control of Soil Erosion to Improve Soil Health and Agriculture Production

Control of soil erosion is a significantly important practice to improve soil fertility and productivity and to improve agricultural sustainability and food security. Soil erosion is the removal of the upper layer of soil or removal, transportation, and deposition of soil particles from one place to another place. This process does not take place immediately, but it takes time and is a gradual process. Mainly soil erosion happens by the action of wind and water and causes severe quality losses and deterioration of the quality of soil and water. Soil erosion is especially abundant in the abandoned and desert areas. Mismanagement of natural agricultural resources like soil can make prosperous nations poor. However agricultural civilizations can get multiple benefits by protecting and conserving the soil resources.

The processes and management measures for the control of soil erosion are divided into two major categories such as temporary controlling measures, and permanent controlling measures. Both processes are essentially helpful to reduce the extent of erosion problems and help to achieve agricultural sustainability and food security.

There are many strategies for the prevention of soil erosion and soil health can be greatly improved by using possible ways to prevent soil erosion.

The problem of soil erosion can be minimized to a greater extent by following management measures and ways to prevent erosion.

Medias Luans for Control of Soil Erosion 

This is an essentially important system for the rehabilitation and reclamation of extremely eroded soils. Medias luans are specifically crescent-shaped depressions and are made on the slopy lands. These shapes are made at the ending of rainy seasons so that the compaction process of ridges can be easily done. The crescent structure helps in the collection of soil and rainwater. It offers significantly better control than other ways to control soil erosion.

Usually, legumes and trees are planted on these depressions in the next raining seasons and are protected from grazing animals by using throne branches or other kinds of barriers. These luans are properly covered with vegetation within 3 to 4 years of plantations and help for excellent control of soil erosion. Even food crops and cash crops can also be grown in these sites after few years and thus the major objective of controlling soil erosion for food security and environmental protection is achieved.

Natural Terraces

The use of grass strips to make natural terraces is an ideal choice to reduce the extent and problem of soil erosion. Plantation of grass on contour lines is significantly important as it allows cultivation between the land strips. The use of fibrous grasses and dense rooting grasses can significantly reduce the erosion process by multiple times. The cultivation of this soil allows the soil to make a natural terrace and the passage of rainwater between the grass strips causes deposition of soil behind the growing grasses. Soil erosion can be controlled by natural terraces and therefore their installation should be preferred for better results.

Soil Contouring

Counter barriers are very easy to make as there is no requirement of using any specific media for this purpose. Landowners of governmental officials can use any kind of available material to make soil contours. However, the most commonly used materials include leaves, crop stalks, grass strips, stones, ditches, and ridges.

Contour Ploughing

The plowing of all land along the contour line but not up and down helps to reduce soil erosion and land degradation. However, it may be a difficult practice due to land inheritance patterns. Their consideration of soil conservation programs and activities of neighboring farmers is strongly recommended.

Manmade Terraces

Terracing practices are being successfully practiced in different countries and well-developed terraces are effective ways to control soil erosion on a sustainable basis. However, the establishment of terraces requires time, and skills because of topsoil and subsoil leveling. While these methods are not considered as efficient systems in the areas or countries where there is no concept of terracing. Terracing is best way to stop erosion on a hill, and for preventing soil erosion on slopes.

Minimal Cultivation

The plowing and digging of the soil always expose soil to erosion problems but in some areas, the soil is loose enough to be eroded without deep plowing. So, digging operations must be reduced to minimize the process of soil erosion. Mininal cultivation is greatly helpful to stop soil erosion and for yard erosion landscaping. Preventing erosion on steep slopes by using minimal cultivation can greatly reduce the negative energy associated with the runoff.

Agroforestry for Control of Soil Erosion 

Tree plantation along with crops helps soil protection from erosion. The benefits of agroforestry for protecting the soil from erosion are even more evident after harvesting produce. Growing trees offer great protection from the rain splashing and thus both agroforest and silvopasture should be increased.

Trees prevent soil erosion and also clean the environment so tree plantation is important for the control of soil erosion, environmental protection, ecosystem functioning, and food security. The use of deep-rooted trees for erosion control can offer much more benefits than shallow-rooted trees. So deep-rooted species of trees for soil erosion control should be used.

Crop Residues

The addition of crop residues to the erosion-prone soil does not only help to reduce soil erosion but also helps to improve soil structure. Thereby all physical, chemical, and biological soil properties are improved, and food production can be enhanced by multiple times. Leaving stalks, leaves, and stems in the croplands after harvesting is an excellent idea for control of soil erosion. Moreover, it will provide proper protection for the establishment of the next crop. Crop residues can also be used at home to stop erosion in the yard.

Early Plantation

Planting early before the start of the rainy or windy season is also a good choice to minimize soil erosion and to prevent erosion. Early plantation helps to develop good rooting and some vegetation cover on the topsoil and thereby helps to improve soil structure. Furthermore, the period for the bare soil is reduced and thus the chances for controlling erosion and land degradation are enhanced. Therefore soil erosion can be controlled by early plantation along with other management measures.

Intercropping and Mixed Cropping

Cultivating different types of crops and plant species in the alternative rows at different times helps to reduce the chances of soil erosion by the action of wind and water. Trees prevent soil erosion, so a combination of trees and other cash and food crops can help to maintain soil quality and soil health on a sustainable basis.

Green Manuring

Usually, the plantation of legumes in the soil is greatly important to improve soil fertility as it returns fresh and good quality organic matter to the soil. Some plants are specifically grown for a period of 1 or 2 months before harvesting a specific crop and plantation of the next crop. The cutting of leaves into smaller pieces is essentially important to produce better results. The parts of hedges and trees can also be added to the soil as green manures but most commonly their parts are used for mulching.

There is a vast range of green manuring options such as spring green manure, trefoil green manure, mustard manure, winter rye green manure, rye green manure, green organic manure, forage rye green manure, bunnings green manure, Caliente mustard green manure, white clover green manure, ryegrass green manure, comfrey green manure, phacelia tanacetifolia green manure, rhs green manure, vetch green manure, lupin green manure, green manure crops bunnings, crimson clover green manure, fenugreek green manure, grazing rye green manure, red clover green manure, green manure compost, alfalfa green manure, sesbania green manure, and mustard green manure.

Cover Crops

The working mechanism of cover crops to protect soils against erosion is much similar to that of mulching. Usually, cover crops are planted to cover the upper portion or top layer of the soil. Therefore, it is greatly important to reduce the extent of soil erosion. Moreover, growing cover crops also help to reduce weeds and significantly improves soil health, fertility, and productivity. Furthermore, cover crops can also be used as fodder or food and therefore multiple benefits can be obtained by growing cover crops on erosion-prone soils.

Mulching

More addition of organic or inorganic matter on the surface layer of soil and helps to reduce the chances of erosion due to the action of wind and water. They also help to reduce weeds, regulate soil temperature, improve soil fertility, and structural improvement by the addition of organic matter. Moreover, mulching can also help to prevent erosion on slope and therefore it should be widely practiced on slopey areas. Both mulching and cover cropping can be used to prevent soil erosion in yard.

Both organic and inorganic materials can be used for mulching and most commonly used and preferred ones includes bark fines, wood chips for plants, river rock mulch, black wood mulch, acidic mulch, cedar bark chips, pet friendly mulch, pete rose mulch, black rubber mulch nuggest, bush mulch, arbor mulch, premium brown mulch, scotts nature scapes black mulch, rubber nuggets, melvins mulch, purple mulch, agway mulch, oldcastle mulch, sugarcane mulch mitre 10, double ground mulch, home depot black rubber mulch, undyed mulch, shredded starw mulch, rimor mulch, mainely mulch, orange mulch, jemasco mulch, black cypress mulch, shepard’s mulch, tan bark mulch, and hydroseed mulch.

Vegetated Waterways and Irrigation Channels

The use of vegetation in the irrigation channels and waterways can offer excellent control of soil erosion. This practice is essentially important to reduce runoff from the sloping lands. The installation of vegetation in the water passage structures helps for absorption of destructive energy of runoff that causes erosion in the channels and gully formation. The owners or management-related person can always add triangular, trapezoidal, and parabolic cross-sections in the water pathways depending upon functional requirements and climatic changes. Vegetated pathways and irrigation channels do not only help to control runoff in the passageways but also helps for land erosion control.

Bioengineering as Effective Measure for Control of Soil Erosion

The main purpose of bioengineering is to reduce the destructive energy associated with flooding and runoff by the installation or use of natural materials in the water storage structures and water pathways. Bioengineering allows permanent control of soil erosion by using leaves, stems, and roots of vegetation to reduce the potential problem. Bioengineering slope stabilization offers numerous benefits to prevent erosion and to improve food security.

The use of plant foliage also helps to reduce the impact of rain splashing, causes more infiltration of rainwater to the soil and thus the holding and anchorage of soil are improved in the biomaterials. The efficiency and positive results of bioengineering systems continue to strengthen with the growth and development of plants. Thus these methods offer cost-effective and simple measures to control soil erosion problems on a long-term basis. Bioengineering is the best way to prevent soil erosion due to its long-term benefits and sustainability measures.

Catch Water Drains or Diversion Ditch

These drains are specifically graded channels and are provided with supporting banks or ridges on their lower sides. They are constructed along with the slopy structures, and are specifically designed for the interception of runoff and safely conveying the runoff to the other outlet, waterways, or culvert inlets. These drains are also helpful for the protection of roads and diversion of runoff away from gully heads. However, these structures should never be constructed near the cut edges of roads as otherwise, it can increase the problems of landslips. Furthermore, it also helps in controlling soil erosion and sediment control.

Retention Ditch or Infiltration Ditch

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Retention Pits or Soak Away Ponds

These ponds measuring 1m, and 5m by 5m deep are used for impounding the runoff of the roads where there are no placements for discharging the water. The proper control and management of this runoff can be essentially helpful to improve agricultural production in semi-arid and arid areas. The water holding capacity of these ponds is greatly dependent on various factors such as climatic conditions, topography, soil type, vegetation cover, and prevailing climatic conditions. However, it is important to consider the safety, and protection of children, animals, and growing crops before constructing these retention pits.

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Grassing of Soil Surface and Waterways

Grassing is essentially a significant measure for the control of soil erosion. Moreover, it is also beneficial for fodder production and growers can use this fodder for feeding animals or for selling it in the market. Typically the most important grass species for grassing includes vetiver grass, Guatemala grass, Giant Setaria, Nandi Setaria, Napier grass, Kikuyu grass, Bahia grass, Makarikari grass, Guinea grass, love grass, star grass, Rhodes grass, and creeping signal grass. Growers can select the best grass to prevent soil erosion according to prevailing conditions and the topography of specific areas.

Stone Lining

We can prevent soil erosion by stone lining and this practice is an ideal choice for the side drains having more than 200 m depth without culvert outlet or miter drain. Stones should be properly wedged and bedded into a firm place by using soil and smaller stones. It is also possible to hand pack and wedge the stones on the lower sides of these ditches. Whereas thickness of the layer is greatly dependent on the size and thickness of stones and surrounding conditions. Although it is impossible to stop soil erosion immediately but stone lining helps to reduce erosion effects within short time.

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Check Dams for Control of Soil Erosion 

Check dams are constructed by using a combination of poles and stones and helps to reduce soil erosion by minimizing the energy associated with the runoff. The build-up of sediments behind check dams makes these dams act as drop structures for water erosion control. Thereby water flow will be passing downwards in the form of stepwise series.

However, the spacing between the slopes should be properly adjusted to reduce erosion. This spacing is greatly dependent on the drainage gradient and height of dam structures. These structures are also beneficial for soil erosion and sediment control. Whereas, check dam design can be greatly modified according to local conditions and desired objectives. Check dams for erosion control offers sustainable results but it is importnat to consider check dam construction cost.

Control of Gully Heads

Mainly there are three possible ways to make effective control of gully heads and these ways include constructing fall structures, protecting and sloping gully heads, and construction of dam downstream of gully heads. Control of gully heads is among the common ways to stop erosion and has been essentially significant in numerous studies. Even results of numerous scientific studies have reported its beneficial effects for soil erosion protection, gully erosion control and ground erosion control.

Grassy Waterways

The conduction of runoff to the bottom of valleys can be achieved by the making of grassy waterways. Usually, the grassed waterways are parabolic or trapezoidal shaped and are shallow and wide enough to support low flow velocities. Normally these waterways are excavated downwards the slope and help for the deposition of excavated materials at the sides of these waterways. Moreover, it also helps with soil erosion and sediment control.

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