February 26, 2015
When water or wind causes an area of land’s topsoil to wash away, soil erosion will occur. While erosion is a natural process, when the land starts to be cultivated, it can turn into a very big problem. When topsoil has been removed from land, it will no longer be capable of supporting plant life. This is why it is so crucial to prevent soil erosion from occurring in the first place.
Problems caused by soil erosion
When topsoil gets washed away, the nutrients that are necessary for plant growth get washed away as well. Gullies can be created, which make the creation of a level area to plant your crops much more difficult. The remaining soil will more easily have a crust form on it, which creates a barrier that is hard for seeds to penetrate. Rain water will have difficulty being absorbed. Marine life will also feel the negative impact of soil erosion. As streams and rivers fill up with excess soil from erosion, the aquatic ecosystem’s delicate balance will be disturbed. Pesticides and herbicides might be contained within the soil, which may harm animals and fish that need the river or stream to survive.
Plant life’s role in soil conservation
Topsoil is protected by plant life in several ways, enabling soil conservation. Heavy rains are prevented from knocking loose much of the top soil. Soil is also prevented from quickly drying out. This prevents powerful winds from blowing it away. The soil is held in place by plant roots, making it harder for water to wash it away.
Farmers routinely use a variety of methods to limit or prevent soil erosion from occurring. The majority of these are able to be adapted so they can be used in a home garden. Let’s take a look at some of the ways soil erosion can be prevented to allow the growth of plants to be maximized:
1. Conservation tillage
This is when part of the vegetation is left in the ground, as opposed to removing everything. When used in a garden, a strip of grass could be left behind. This will allow the soil to remain in the borders you have created.
2. Contour farming This method is good to control the erosion of soil caused by water runoff. Planting is done along a hill’s slope by following the land’s natural contours, as opposed to simply planting straight across, down or up.
3. Cover crop
This can be planted when you are not using your land. Cover crops absorb the air’s nitrogen and deliver it back into the ground. Aside from that, they are also a great way to protect your land.
Planting a windbreak can help if you are experiencing wind erosion. A fence with small holes in it, a row of bushes or trees can all serve as an effective windbreak. Basically, you need something that will prevent strong gusts of wind from blowing across your property and causing wind erosion.
5. Healthy soil
Having soil that is healthy and has a lot of organic matter will contain a strong structure. Therefore, it is not as easy to blow or wash it away. Every year, add a large amount of compost and be careful not to till too much as you are doing your planting.
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