Soil is the precious gift of nature to the mankind. All the plant family, animal kingdom and human society at large depend upon soil for their sustenance directly or indirectly. Ironically, soil is the most neglected commodity on the earth. Shifting cultivation on the hill slopes, non-adoption of soil conservation techniques, and over exploitation of land for crop production due to population stress, leads to enormous soil erosion. It will take hundreds of years to form an inch of soil, but in no time it gets washed away down the slope due to erosion.
Soil Conservation is the process by which the loss of soil is checked, reducing the velocity of run-off through erosion control measures for maximum sustained crop production and for protection of human lift. So conservation of soil is essential for sustenance of human life on the earth.
Soil conservation is set of management strategies for prevention of soil being eroded from the earth’s surface or becoming chemically altered by overuse, salinisation, acidification, or other chemical soil contamination.
OBJECTIVE OF SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION
✓ Enhancing and sustaining productivity of available land stock for primary production systems of crop cultivation livestock rising and forest management. ✓ Generating additional employment opportunities and income through secured livelihood in rural areas. ✓ Maintaining beneficial relationship between land and water cycles and deter / moderate hazards of droughts and flood. ✓ Retarding Watershed degradation caused by deforestation, soil erosion, sedimentation, land degradation and hydrologic deterioration of the watersheds. ✓ Locating, reclaiming and developing culturable wastelands, fallows other than current fallows and degraded lands to meet increasing and competing demands for additional land stock for various sectors.
IMPORTANCE OF SOIL CONSERVATION
Most people know that they need clean air and clean water to stay healthy. Fewer people realize that their well-being also depends on the health of the soil. Soil supports the growth of most of our food and fibre, so its productivity is a major factor in the economies of Canada and other nations. But soil also has a much broader, global role. Soil acts as a filter, cleaning air and water. It exchanges gases with the atmosphere and thus influences the global climate. Soil receives organic wastes and recycles their nutrients back to plants; it also holds and breaks down some toxic wastes. Because soil plays such a key role in world health, economics and environmental stability, we must conserve it and use it in a sustainable manner.
DIFFERENT MEASURES FOR SOIL CONSERVATION
Mechanical Soil Conservation measures
Mechanical measures include various engineering techniques and structure. This practices aim at some objective as follows: ✓ To divide a long slope of land into a series of shorter ones in order to reduce the velocity of run off water. ✓ To retain the water in the land for long period so as to allow maximum water to be absorbed and held in the soil and less water flows down the slope of the land at non-erosive velocity. ✓ To protect the soil against erosion by water.
The important mechanical soil conservation measures are as follows:
Contour bunding consists of building earthen embankment at intervals across the slope and along the contour line of the field. A series of such bund divide the area into strips and act as barrier to the flow of water. As a result, the amount and velocity of run-off are reduced, resulting reducing the soil erosion. Contour bunding is made on land where the slope is not very steep and the soil is fairly permeable. Contour bunds are also called level terraces, absorbtion type terraces or ridge type teracces. Contour bunding works are carried out over wide areas in many parts of India, notably in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra...