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Avoiding Soil Loss

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Avoiding Soil Loss

Why did someone cut designs into this hillside?

Although the hillside is interesting, that's not why this was done. Terracing prevents soil erosion on a hillside that is being farmed. Many techniques can be utilized to reduce soil erosion.

Preventing Soil Erosion

Soil is a renewable resource, but it can take thousands of years to form. That’s why people need to do what they can to prevent soil erosion.

Farming Methods that Reduce Soil Erosion

The Dust Bowl taught people that soil could be lost by plowing and growing crops. New ways of farming were developed to protect the soil. Some of the methods are described below ( Figure below ).

There are many farming methods that help prevent soil erosion.

Other Ways to Reduce Soil Erosion

There are several other ways to help prevent soil loss. Some of them are pictured below ( Figure below ).

  • Prevent overgrazing. Frequently move animals from field to field. This gives the grass a chance to recover.
  • Avoid logging steep hillsides. Cut only a few trees in any given place. Plant new trees to replace those that are cut down.
  • Reclaim mine lands. Save the stripped topsoil and return it to the land. Once the soil is in place, plant trees and other plants to protect the bare soil.
  • Use barriers to prevent runoff and soil erosion at construction sites. Plant grass to hold the soil in place.
  • Develop paving materials that absorb water and reduce runoff.
  • Restrict the use of off-road vehicles, especially in hilly areas.

Taking steps to control erosion can help save soil.

Vocabulary

  • contour cropping : Plowing along contour lines to slow soil erosion.
  • cover crops : Crops are planted year-round to increase fertility and prevent erosion.
  • no-till planting : Crop residues are left on the soil and soil is disturbed less.
  • strip cropping : Strips of closely sown crops alternate with strips of row crops.
  • terracing : Farming that takes place on a series of platforms down a hill.

Summary

  • Soil is a renewable resource. Sometimes it is lost faster than it can be replaced.
  • Farming methods that can reduce soil erosion include terracing, contour cropping, windbreaks, and no-till planting.
  • Caution with grazing, recreational activities and reclaiming used lands can help reduce soil erosion.

Practice

Use the resource below to answer the questions that follow.

  1. Describe contour farming.
  2. What is terracing?
  3. How does strip cropping work?
  4. What is agroforestry?
  5. How does tree litter help crops?

Review

  1. Why is it so important to reduce soil erosion?
  2. What farming techniques better protect soils?
  3. What else can be done to reduce soil erosion?

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