What is Soil Erosion?

Soil erosion is the displacement of the upper layer of soil; it is a form of soil degradation. This natural process is caused by the dynamic activity of erosive agents, that is, water, ice, snow, air, plants, animals, and humans.

What is Soil Conservation?

Soil conservation is the prevention of loss of the top most layer of the soil from erosion or prevention of reduced fertility caused by over usage, acidification, salinization or other chemical soil contamination.

Types of Erosion

Types of soil erosion include:

Splash Erosion: Splash erosion is the first stage of the erosion process. It occurs when raindrops hit bare soil. The explosive impact breaks up soil aggregates so that individual soil particles are ‘splashed’ onto the soil surface.

Sheet Erosion: Sheet erosion is the uniform removal of soil in thin layers, and it occurs when soil particles are carried evenly over the soil surface by rainwater that does not infiltrate into the ground.

Rill Erosion: Rill erosion is removal of soil by concentrated water flow, and it occurs when the water forms small channels in the soil as it flows off site.

Gully Erosion: Gully erosion is the removal of soil along drainage lines by surface water runoff. Unless steps are taken to stabilize the disturbance, gullies will continue to move by headword erosion or by slumping of the side walls

Some Types Of Conservation

  • Contour ploughing: Contour ploughing orients furrows fellows following the contour lines of the farmed area. Furrows move left and right to maintain a constant altitude, which reduces runoff. Contour ploughing was practiced by the ancient Phoenicians for slopes between two and ten percent. Contour ploughing can increase crop yields from 10 to 50 percent, partially as a result of greater soil retention
  • Terrace farming: Terracing is the practice of creating nearly level areas in a hillside area. The terraces form a series of steps, each at a higher level than the previous. Terraces are protected from erosion by other soil barriers. Terraced farming is more common on small farms.
  • Keyline design: Keyline design is an enhancement of contour farming, where the total watershed properties are taken into account in forming the contour lines.
  • Perimeter runoff control: Tree, shrubs and ground-cover are effective perimeter treatment for soil erosion prevention, by impeding surface flows. A special form of this perimeter or inter-row treatment is the use of a “grass way” that both channels and dissipates runoff through surface friction, impeding surface runoff and encouraging infiltration of the slowed surface water.
  • Windbreaks: Windbreaks are sufficiently dense rows of trees at the windward exposure of an agricultural field subject to wind erosion. Evergreen species provide year-round protection; however, as long as foliage is present in the seasons of bare soil surfaces, the effect of deciduous trees may be adequate.
  • Cover crops/crop rotation: Cover crops such as legumes plant, white turnips, radishes and other species are rotated with cash crops to blanket the soil year-round and act as green manure that replenishes nitrogen and other critical nutrients. Cover crops also help suppress weeds.

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