By taking precautions against factors that can cause erosion, such as wind and water, soil conservation refers to the avoidance or decrease of soil erosion and soil deterioration. To preserve the soil’s sustainable usage for agricultural output, soil conservation entails a variety of safeguards and land management techniques. These management techniques work to reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and preserve the integrity of the soil.
Table of Contents
- What is Soil conservation?
- Soil Erosion and Erosion Causing Agents:
- Impact of Soil Erosion:
- Measures to control water erosion
- Land use classisfication (Land capability classification developed by USDA)
- Wasteland Definition:
What is Soil conservation?
Soil conservation is the prevention or reduction of soil erosion and soil degradation by protective measures against soil erosion causing agents such as wind, water etc. Soil conservation involves various protective measures and land management practices to ensure its sustainable use for agricultural production. These management practices aims to prevent soil erosion, improve soil fertility, and maintain soil health.
There are several soil conservation methods including:
- Conservation tillage: This method involves leaving plant residue on the soil surface to protect the soil from erosion and retain moisture. It reduces the amount of tillage required, which helps to maintain soil structure and reduce soil compaction.
- Cover crops: Cover crops are planted in between cash crops to protect the soil from erosion, increase soil organic matter, and improve soil fertility.
- Crop rotation: Crop rotation involves alternating the types of crops grown in a field to help maintain soil fertility, reduce soil-borne diseases, and improve soil structure.
- Terracing: Terracing involves building stepped retaining walls along sloping terrain to slow down water flow, reduce erosion, and improve soil structure.
- Contour farming: Contour farming involves planting crops in rows that run along the contour of the land, which helps to reduce water runoff and erosion.
- Windbreaks: Windbreaks are rows of trees or shrubs planted around fields to protect them from wind erosion.
- Conservation buffers/Riparian buffers: Conservation buffers are strips of vegetation planted between fields and waterways to filter runoff, reduce erosion, and improve water quality. (Riparian buffers are strips of vegetation planted along the banks of streams and rivers. They help to absorb water and reduce the speed of runoff, thus reducing erosion.)
- Nutrient management: Proper nutrient management practices can help to reduce nutrient runoff and maintain soil fertility.
- Grassed waterways: Grassed waterways are channels designed to carry water across sloping land without causing erosion. They are typically planted with grasses or other vegetation that helps to slow down the movement of water and prevent erosion. Read More: [[Grassed waterways]]
Soil conservation is important for sustainable agriculture and for protecting the environment. By implementing soil conservation practices, farmers can ensure that their land remains productive for generations to come while minimizing the impact on the surrounding environment.
- Read more: Soil Conservation Principles, Objectives and Techniques: The Ultimate Guide
- Read more: Methods of soil conservation
Why Soil and Water Conservation is Important?
Land and water are fundamental resources essential for life, and their appropriate management is crucial for ensuring their continuity. However, various land degradation processes such as soil erosion, deforestation, mining, overgrazing, mismanagement, and improper utilization have led to continuous depletion of land resources. This has resulted in the deterioration of soil physical properties, inhibiting farm production and productivity.
Despite taking nature 600-1000 years to form 1.0 inch of topsoil, the same amount of soil can be eroded easily in just two to three rainfall events due to lack of conservation and improper utilization. Water erosion has become the most harmful factor in the deterioration of productive land, affecting about 31% of the total geographical area in the state. It has been reported that 14.15 million tons of productive soil is lost every year from the state. Unprotected cultivated land has a soil loss rate of about 120 tonnes/ha/yr, which can even go as high as 300 tonnes/ha/yr.
Soil erosion results in the loss of plant nutrients and organic matter, siltation of reservoirs and riverbeds, adversely affecting irrigation and power potential. It also causes floods that damage crops, animals, habitation, communication, and more. Most of all, it adversely affects agricultural production, forest stand, and water availability for irrigation and drinking, leading to a disturbance in the ecological balance.
Soil Erosion and Erosion Causing Agents:
Soil erosion is the process of detachment of soil particles from the top soil and transportation of the detached soil particles by wind and/or water. Two major erosion causing agents are wind and water. The detaching agents are falling raindrop, channel flow and wind. The transporting agents are flowing water, rain splash and wind.
- It is a process of wearing away of soil by wind, water, and other erosion causing agents.
- It is a serious environmental problem that can lead to loss of topsoil, reduced soil fertility, and increased sedimentation in water bodies.
- Read More: [[How land degradation is different from soil erosion]]
Types of erosion:
There are two major types of soil erosion:
- Geological erosion (Natural or normal erosion): Geological erosion is said to be in equilibrium with soil forming process. It takes place under natural vegetative cover completely undisturbed by biotic factors. This is very slow process.
- Accelerated erosion: Accelerated erosion is due to disturbance in natural equilibrium by the activities of man and animals through land mismanagement, destructing of forests over grazing etc., Soil loss through erosion is more than the soil formed due to soil forming process.
Soil Erosion Causing Agents:
Water and wind are two key agents that degrade soils through various kinds of erosion processes. globally around 1100 MHa of land is affected by water erosion (56% of the total degraded land) and around 28% of the total degraded land area is affected by wind erosion.
Following are the major soil erosion causing agents:
- Water erosion: This is the most common form of erosion, caused by the force of raindrops and flowing water. Water erosion can be exacerbated by factors such as steep slopes, heavy rainfall, and the removal of vegetation.
- Wind erosion: Wind erosion is caused by the force of wind on exposed soil. It is more common in arid and semi-arid regions, and can be exacerbated by factors such as overgrazing, tillage practices, and the removal of vegetation.
- Tillage erosion: Tillage erosion is caused by the repeated use of heavy machinery on soil, which can cause soil compaction and the loss of topsoil.
- Mass movement: Mass movement is the movement of soil and rock down a slope due to gravity. It can be caused by factors such as landslides, rockfalls, and soil creep.
- Glaciers and ice: Glaciers and ice can also cause soil erosion by scraping away soil and rock as they move.
- Landslides: Landslides can cause soil erosion by rapidly moving large amounts of soil and rock downhill.
- Volcanic Activity: Volcanic activity can cause soil erosion through the deposition of ash and the flow of lava, which can remove vegetation cover and destabilize soil.
- Geological Processes: Geological processes such as weathering, erosion, and deposition can cause soil erosion over long periods of time.
Preventing soil erosion requires a combination of practices, such as conservation tillage, cover cropping, contour farming, and other erosion control measures. These practices help to maintain soil structure, reduce soil compaction, and improve soil health, which in turn helps to reduce erosion. By implementing effective soil conservation practices, we can reduce the impact of soil erosion and protect our soil resources for future generations. Soil erosion can be caused by both natural and human activities. Read More: [[Soil erosion causing activities]].
- Read More: [[Soil erosion and its management]]
Other processes of land degradation are Soil compaction, Waterlogging, Acidification, Alkalinization & Salinization depends on parent material, climate conditions and crop management practices.
Impact of Soil Erosion:
Soil erosion can have significant impacts on agriculture, both in terms of crop productivity and long-term sustainability. Soil erosion can have significant impacts on the environment, economy, and society. Here are some of the impacts of soil erosion in the agricultural context:
- Reduced Crop Yields: Soil erosion can remove the top layer of soil, which contains essential nutrients for plant growth. This can lead to reduced soil fertility, lower crop yields, and reduced profitability for farmers.
- Loss of Topsoil: Topsoil is the most fertile layer of soil and contains high levels of organic matter. Soil erosion can remove topsoil, making it difficult for crops to grow and reducing the soil’s ability to retain water and nutrients.
- Soil Compaction: Soil erosion can also lead to soil compaction, which makes it difficult for plant roots to penetrate the soil and access water and nutrients.
- Read More: [[what is soil compaction]]
- Soil Acidification: Soil erosion can lead to increased soil acidity, which can negatively impact plant growth and soil health. Read More: [[Soil acidification]]
- Loss of Soil Structure: Soil erosion can disrupt soil structure, reducing the soil’s ability to hold water and nutrients, leading to poor plant growth.
- Reduced Soil Fertility: Soil erosion can remove the top layer of soil, which contains essential nutrients for plant growth. This can lead to reduced soil fertility and lower crop yields.
- Read More: [[Impact of soil erosion on soil resources]]
- Increased Water Pollution: Soil erosion can cause sediment to enter water bodies, which can lead to increased water pollution and harm aquatic ecosystems.
- Water Quality Impacts: Soil erosion can also have significant impacts on water quality. When soil erodes, it can carry with it nutrients, pesticides, and other chemicals, which can contaminate nearby waterways and harm aquatic ecosystems.
- Decreased Biodiversity: Soil erosion can lead to the loss of plant and animal species that depend on soil for their survival.
- Climate Change: Soil erosion can contribute to climate change by releasing carbon into the atmosphere and reducing the soil’s ability to sequester carbon.
- Read More: [[Impact of soil erosion on water resources]]
- Infrastructure Damage: Soil erosion can cause damage to infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and buildings, which can be costly to repair.
- Increased Flood Risk: Soil erosion can reduce the soil’s ability to absorb water, leading to increased flood risk.
To mitigate the impacts of soil erosion in agriculture, it is important to adopt practices that protect and conserve soil, such as conservation tillage, cover cropping, and erosion control measures. By adopting sustainable land management practices, soil erosion can be reduced, leading to improved soil health, higher crop yields, and long-term sustainability of agricultural production.
Measures to control water erosion
- Agronomic measures to control soil erosion
- Mechanical measures (Engineering measures)
- Forestry measures
- Agrostological measures
Agronomic Measures to control Soil Erosion:
Agronomic measures are techniques that can be used to control soil erosion by modifying agricultural practices. These measures are effective in low rainfall areas particularly in fairly erosion resistant soils having a gentle slope of the landscape (≤2% slope). These measures are designed to maintain soil health and fertility, promote water infiltration, reduce water runoff, and control soil erosion. These measures are cheaper, sustainable, and may be more effective than mechanical measures (Engineering measures).
Here are some agronomic measures that can be used to control soil erosion:
- Cover Crops: Cover crops are crops that are planted to protect the soil from erosion. Cover crops can help to improve soil structure, increase organic matter, and reduce water runoff. Cover crops such as grasses or legumes can be planted in between cash crops to provide soil cover and reduce the risk of erosion.
- Crop Rotation: Crop rotation involves alternating crops with different rooting depths and structures. This helps to maintain soil structure and fertility and reduce the risk of nutrient depletion. Crop rotation also helps to reduce soil erosion by reducing the amount of tillage required and promoting soil cover.
- Conservation Tillage: Conservation tillage involves minimizing the amount of soil disturbance during tillage operations. This can be achieved through practices such as reduced tillage, no-till, and strip-till. These practices help to maintain soil structure and reduce soil erosion by leaving crop residues on the soil surface and reducing the risk of water runoff.
- Terracing: Terracing involves constructing level platforms on steep slopes to reduce the gradient of the slope and promote water infiltration. Terracing can help to reduce soil erosion by slowing down the speed of water runoff and reducing the amount of soil that is carried away.
- Contour Farming: Contour farming involves planting crops across the slope rather than up and down the slope. This helps to reduce water runoff and promote water infiltration, reducing the risk of soil erosion.
- Grassed Waterways: Grassed waterways are vegetated channels that are designed to convey water runoff from fields. These channels help to slow down the speed of water runoff and promote infiltration, reducing the risk of soil erosion.
- Mulching: Mulching is a method of covering the soil surface with organic or inorganic material to protect it from erosion, retain moisture, regulate soil temperature, suppress weeds, and improve soil fertility. Mulching can be done using a variety of materials, including leaves, straw, wood chips, gravel, plastic, and even paper.
- Strip cropping: Strip cropping is a method of planting crops in alternating strips or bands of different crops or cover crops, which can help to reduce soil erosion and improve soil health. In this method, one crop is planted in a strip or band, and the next strip is planted with a different crop or cover crop. The strips may be of different widths, depending on the specific cropping system and management goals.
- Land preparation: Land preparation is an important step in agriculture that can help to check soil erosion by preparing the soil for planting and reducing its susceptibility to erosion.
- Application of manures and fertilizers: Application of manures and fertilizers can help to check soil erosion by improving soil structure, increasing water-holding capacity, and promoting plant growth.
- Choice of crops: Row crops or tall-growing crops like sorghum, maize, and pearl millet are not suitable for erosion control because they expose the soil and promote erosion. In contrast, close growing or erosion resisting crops that have dense canopy cover and a robust root system, such as cowpea, green gram, black gram, and groundnut, are effective in reducing soil erosion. Increasing the seed rate can help increase crop canopy density. Read More: [[How selection of the right crop is crucial for soil and water conservation]]
By adopting these and other agronomic measures, farmers can help to control soil erosion, maintain soil health and fertility, and promote sustainable agriculture. The benefits of these practices include improved water quality, reduced sedimentation, improved soil fertility, and increased crop productivity.
Mechanical measures (Engineering measures) to Control Soil Erosion:
Mechanical measures, also known as engineering measures, are physical structures or barriers that are built to control soil erosion. Some of the commonly used mechanical measures to control soil erosion include:
- Terracing: Terraces are level platforms that are constructed on sloping lands to reduce the velocity of water runoff and increase infiltration. Terracing involves the construction of embankments or ridges across the slope at intervals to create a series of level platforms.
- Contour plowing: Contour plowing involves plowing across the slope rather than up and down the slope. This helps to reduce the speed of water runoff and increase infiltration, thus reducing erosion.
- Strip cropping: Strip cropping involves planting different crops in alternate strips across the slope. This helps to reduce the speed of water runoff and increase infiltration, thus reducing erosion.
- Grassed waterways: Grassed waterways are natural or constructed channels that are lined with grass to reduce the speed of water runoff and increase infiltration. They are typically used in areas with high water runoff, such as along the sides of roads or on steep slopes.
- Retaining walls: Retaining walls are structures that are built to hold back soil on steep slopes. They are typically made of concrete, stone, or brick and are designed to withstand the force of water runoff.
- Gabions: Gabions are wire baskets filled with rocks or other materials. They are often used in combination with retaining walls to provide additional support and reduce erosion.
- Check dams: Check dams are small dams that are constructed across gullies or other channels to slow down the flow of water and reduce erosion. They are typically made of stone or concrete and are designed to withstand the force of water runoff.
- Riprap: Riprap involves placing large rocks or stones along the banks of streams or other water channels to reduce erosion. The rocks or stones help to slow down the flow of water and protect the soil from being washed away.
- Contour bunding: Contour bunding is a soil conservation technique that involves creating a series of small ridges or mounds of soil across the slope of a hill. These bunds act as barriers that trap sediment and water runoff, reducing the speed and volume of surface water flow, and allowing more water to infiltrate into the soil.
- Graded bunding: Graded bunding is a type of soil conservation technique used to control soil erosion in agricultural lands. It involves constructing small earthen embankments across the slope of a field at regular intervals to form a series of steps. The height and spacing of the bunds are designed according to the slope of the land, soil type, and rainfall intensity.
- Bench terracing: Bench terracing is a soil conservation technique used in agriculture to reduce soil erosion and retain water on steep slopes. It involves the construction of a series of broad, nearly level platforms or benches on the contour of the slope, separated by earth banks or bunds. The bunds form small catchment areas that trap and retain water and prevent soil from being washed downhill.
- Vegetative barriers: Vegetative barriers are living plant materials that are strategically placed to control soil erosion. They are designed to slow down or divert water flow, and prevent the detachment and transport of soil particles. Vegetative barriers can be trees, shrubs, grasses, or any other plants with deep and strong root systems that can hold soil particles in place.
- Gully Control: Gully erosion is a severe form of soil erosion that occurs when running water cuts deeply into the soil, creating channels or gullies that can be several feet deep. Gully erosion can cause significant damage to agricultural land, forests, and infrastructure, and it can contribute to downstream sedimentation, water pollution, and flooding. Here are some measures that can be used to control gully erosion: Terracing, Gabions, Riparian buffers, Vegetative barriers, Grassed waterways.
Forestry Measures to Control Soil Erosion
Forestry measures to control soil erosion involve the planting and management of trees and forests to prevent or reduce soil erosion. Some of the measures include:
- Afforestation: The establishment of forests in areas that were previously not forested. Trees help to reduce soil erosion by binding the soil with their roots and reducing the impact of raindrops on the soil surface.
- Reforestation: The replanting of trees in areas where forests have been cleared. Reforestation helps to restore the natural environment and protect the soil from erosion.
- Forest management: Proper forest management practices such as selective cutting, prescribed burning, and controlled grazing can help to maintain the health of the forest and reduce soil erosion.
- Riparian buffers: The planting of trees and shrubs along the banks of rivers and streams to protect them from erosion caused by water runoff.
- Agroforestry: The integration of trees into agricultural systems to provide multiple benefits, such as reducing soil erosion and improving soil fertility.
- Silvopastoral systems: The integration of trees and livestock production. Trees are used to provide shade and shelter for livestock, and their roots help to stabilize the soil.
- Windbreaks: The planting of trees and shrubs to reduce wind erosion of soil. Windbreaks also provide other benefits such as reducing wind damage to crops and buildings.
These measures help to protect the soil from erosion, maintain soil fertility, and ensure the sustainable use of forest resources.
Agrostological measures to control soil erosion:
Agrostological measures are measures that involve the use of grasses or other vegetation to control soil erosion. These measures include:
- Grassed waterways: These are natural or constructed channels that have been planted with grass or other vegetation. They help to slow down the flow of water, reduce erosion, and trap sediment.
- Contour strips: These are strips of grass or other vegetation that are planted across the contour of the land. They help to slow down the flow of water, reduce erosion, and trap sediment.
- Vegetative barriers: These are rows of grass, shrubs, or other vegetation that are planted across the slope of the land. They help to slow down the flow of water, reduce erosion, and trap sediment.
- Windbreaks: These are rows of trees or shrubs that are planted perpendicular to the prevailing wind direction. They help to reduce wind erosion and protect soil from wind damage.
- Afforestation: This involves the planting of trees on degraded land to prevent soil erosion and improve soil fertility.
- Agroforestry: This involves the integration of trees with crops or pasture. The trees help to reduce soil erosion and improve soil fertility.
These measures are effective in controlling soil erosion and can also provide additional benefits such as improving soil fertility, providing habitat for wildlife, and enhancing the aesthetic value of the landscape.
The desirable characters of grasses for soil conservation
Grasses used for soil conservation should be selected based on their ability to provide effective ground cover, reduce soil erosion, and promote soil health and fertility. Grasses used for soil conservation should possess several desirable characters, including:
- Deep rooting: Grasses with deep root systems are able to penetrate deep into the soil, creating channels for water to infiltrate, which helps to reduce surface runoff and soil erosion.
- High biomass production: Grasses with high biomass production can provide effective ground cover and contribute to soil stabilization.
- Fast establishment: Grasses that can quickly establish themselves after planting or seeding are desirable as they can provide ground cover and soil protection as soon as possible.
- Adaptability to local conditions: Grass species that are adapted to local climatic and soil conditions are more likely to thrive and provide effective soil conservation.
- Tolerance to grazing and mowing: Grasses that can tolerate grazing and mowing can be useful in agricultural settings where livestock grazing or hay production is practiced, as they can continue to provide soil protection even under these conditions.
- Perennial growth: Perennial grasses are desirable for soil conservation as they provide long-term soil protection and can also help to build up soil organic matter over time.
- Drought resistance: Drought resistance refers to the ability of a plant or crop to survive and continue growing even in conditions of water scarcity or drought. Plants that are drought-resistant have adapted physiological and morphological features that enable them to conserve water and withstand prolonged periods of drought.
- Develop good canopy: Developing a good canopy is an important characteristic for grasses used in soil conservation. A dense and healthy canopy can effectively reduce soil erosion by slowing down the velocity of runoff, increasing the water-holding capacity of the soil, and reducing the impact of raindrops on the soil surface.
- Less palatable to cattles: Some grasses that are less palatable to cattle are following. It’s important to note that while these grasses may be less palatable to cattle, they still provide important ecological benefits and can be used in conservation efforts to prevent soil erosion.
Tall Fescue (Festuca arundinacea)
Bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum)
Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon)
Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)
Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)
Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans)
Big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii)
Timothy (Phleum pratense)
- Rhizominiferous: Rhizominiferous refers to plants that have a deep root system, which helps in binding the soil particles and preventing soil erosion. These plants have a fibrous root system that is able to penetrate deep into the soil, providing stability and structure to the soil. Examples of rhizominiferous plants include alfalfa, clover, rye, and bermudagrass. These plants are commonly used in agriculture for soil conservation and forage production.
- Some grasses can be grown and harvested on a small scale, making them ideal for cottage industries. Some examples include:
Bamboo: Bamboo is a fast-growing grass that can be used for making furniture, handicrafts, and other household items.
Vetiver: Vetiver is a perennial grass that is used for making perfumes, soaps, and other cosmetic products.
Lemongrass: Lemongrass is a popular herb that is used for making tea, essential oils, and other products.
Rattan: Rattan is a climbing palm that is used for making furniture, baskets, and other household items.
Jute: Jute is a fiber obtained from the stem of the jute plant, and it is used for making bags, ropes, and other products.
Coir: Coir is a fiber obtained from the outer husk of coconuts, and it is used for making mats, brushes, and other products.
Land use classisfication (Land capability classification developed by USDA)
Land capability classification is a system used to evaluate and classify land for its potential use. It is based on the soil properties and landscape characteristics of a given area. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has developed a land capability classification system that groups soils into eight classes based on their potential for different types of land use. Read More: Land use classification.
The Land Capability Classification (LCC) developed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is a system of land classification that assesses the potential of a particular land for different kinds of land use based on soil properties, climate, vegetation, and topography. The LCC system was developed to assist land managers, planners, and conservationists in making informed decisions about land use and management.
The USDA Land Capability Classification system categorizes land into eight classes based on its potential for use. These classes range from Class I (prime farmland) to Class VIII (unsuitable for cultivation).
The criteria used in the classification process include slope, soil texture, erosion, drainage, soil depth, and other factors that affect land productivity. The system provides a framework for evaluating the potential of land for different uses such as agriculture, forestry, wildlife habitat, and recreation.
The Land Capability Classification system developed by the USDA divides land into eight classes based on the soil characteristics and limitations that affect its potential for agricultural use. The eight classes are:
Class I: Land with very slight limitations that is suitable for cultivation of a wide range of crops. Class II: Land with moderate limitations that is suitable for cultivation of most crops but may require some conservation practices to minimize erosion. Class III: Land with moderate to severe limitations that is suitable for cultivation of crops with more restricted requirements, such as pasture, hay, or forestry. Class IV: Land with severe limitations that is suitable primarily for pasture, hay, or forestry with careful management. Class V: Land with very severe limitations that is suitable primarily for woodland or wildlife habitat. Class VI: Land with limitations that preclude cultivation or pasture but may be suitable for extensive grazing or recreation. Class VII: Land that is not suited for cultivation, pasture, or grazing but may have some value for wildlife habitat or forestry. Class VIII: Land with severe limitations that preclude most use, except for conservation purposes or limited grazing.
Definition of Wasteland by NRSA (National Remote Sensing Agency): Wasteland is that land which is presently lying unused or which is not being used to its optimum potential due to some constraints.
Wasteland refers to land that is not in use for any productive purpose, either due to natural factors or due to human activities. It is characterized by barren and degraded soil, lack of vegetation, and absence of water resources. Wastelands may be caused due to natural reasons such as water erosion, wind erosion, or waterlogging, or due to human activities such as overgrazing, deforestation, mining, or industrialization. The term “wasteland” is often used to refer to land that has the potential for productive use but is not currently utilized.
Wasteland classification by national wasteland development board:
National wasteland development board classifies wastelands into two categories:
- Cultivable wasteland
- Uncultivable wasteland
The cultivable wastelands have been classified into:
(a). Gullied and/or ravenous lands
(b). Undulating land without shrubs
(c). Surface waterlogging land and marsh
(d). Salt affected land
(e). Shifting cultivation area
(f). Degraded forestland
(g). Degraded pasture/grazing land
(h). Degraded forest plantations
(i). Strip lands
(j). Sand dunes
(k). Mining/industrial wastelands
Uncultivable wastelands which cannot be used for vegetation are classified as:
(a) Brown rocky/stony/shut of rocks
(b) Steep sloppy areas
(c) Snow covered and/or glacier lands
Extent of Wastelands NRSA estimates put wastelands at 16.21% of the total land area of the country. Of this, 16.74% is culturable and rest 4.47% is unculturable. The wastelands are found maximum in Jammu and Kashmir 60.10%.
Total wastelands in India: 129.57mha
Category-wise wastelands of India
Causes of Wasteland Formation:
Wasteland formation is a complex issue that is often the result of a combination of natural and human-induced factors. Understanding the causes of wasteland formation is essential for developing effective strategies to prevent and remediate degraded land. Here are some of the most common causes of wasteland formation:
- Over grazing
- Unskilled irrigation
- Improper developmental activities such as dumping of wastes, mine wastes
- Improper land use practices
- Climate change
- Natural disasters
How to improve wasteland formation:
Improving wasteland formation involves a range of measures aimed at restoring degraded land to productive use. Here are some possible steps that can be taken:
- Soil and water conservation measures: Implementing soil and water conservation measures like contour bunding, terrace farming, grassed waterways, and cover cropping can help to reduce soil erosion, conserve moisture, and improve soil fertility.
- Afforestation and reforestation: Planting trees and other vegetation on wasteland areas can help to improve the soil quality, provide a source of timber, and prevent further soil erosion.
- Agroforestry: A combination of tree planting and crop cultivation can help to restore degraded land, provide food and income for local communities, and improve the ecological diversity of the area.
- Rainwater harvesting: Harvesting rainwater can help to recharge groundwater resources, increase soil moisture, and improve crop yields.
- Sustainable land use practices: Promoting sustainable land use practices like conservation tillage, crop rotation, and intercropping can help to improve soil health and prevent soil degradation.
- Livestock management: Introducing improved livestock management practices like rotational grazing, stall feeding, and fodder cultivation can help to reduce overgrazing, prevent soil compaction, and improve soil fertility.
- Community participation: Involving local communities in the process of wasteland development and management can help to ensure their active participation and support, and can also help to generate income and employment opportunities.
- Afforestation: Planting trees on wasteland can help improve the soil quality and prevent further soil erosion. It can also provide a source of timber, firewood, and other forest products.
- Agroforestry: Growing crops along with trees can help improve the soil fertility and increase the productivity of wasteland. Agroforestry systems can also provide multiple benefits, such as food, fodder, and fuelwood.
- Rainwater harvesting: Constructing structures such as check dams, contour trenches, and percolation tanks can help conserve rainwater and recharge the groundwater table. This can help improve the soil moisture and reduce soil erosion.
- Soil conservation measures: Implementing soil conservation measures such as contour farming, terracing, mulching, and cover cropping can help control soil erosion and improve soil fertility.
- Livestock management: Integrating livestock into the farming system can help improve soil fertility by providing organic manure and improving soil structure through grazing.
- Integrated farming systems: Developing integrated farming systems that combine crops, livestock, and fish farming can help improve soil fertility and increase the productivity of wasteland.
- Land reclamation: Land reclamation through various techniques such as soil amelioration, soil stabilization, and soil modification can help improve the quality of wasteland and make it suitable for cultivation.
- NRSA wasteland classes (1986-2000)
- WASTELAND DEVELOPMENT PDF by NRSA
- Wastelands Atlas of India by National Remote Sensing Centre and Ministry of Rural Development (2010)
- Soil and Water Conservation Department GOI Meghalaya
- Soil and Water Conservation Measures for Agricultural Sustainability
- Handbook of Agriculture by ICAR, 6th Edition