Soil Conservation in India

Soil Conservation in India
Posted on 19-08-2023

Soil Conservation: Strategies and Initiatives

Soil conservation encompasses various strategies aimed at safeguarding soil from erosion and depletion. With an estimated two-thirds of arable land requiring conservation efforts, it is imperative to prioritize soil conservation for the well-being of India's population.

Methods of Soil Conservation:

Afforestation: The indiscriminate cutting of trees must cease, and efforts should be directed towards increased tree planting. It's essential to strive for a forest cover of 33% of total land, with proportions of 20% for plains and 60% for hilly/mountainous regions.

Overgrazing Management: Effective measures to control overgrazing of forests and grasslands should be implemented, including the designation of separate grazing areas.

Agricultural Practice Changes: Modifying agricultural practices is crucial. Some recommendations include:

  • Crop Rotation: Growing the same crop annually depletes specific nutrients from the soil, rendering it infertile. Diverse crops should be cultivated to utilize various nutrients throughout the year. Leguminous plants can help fix nitrogen in the soil.

  • Strip Cropping: Planting crops in alternating strips along parallel lines allows staggered harvests, preventing fallow periods and reducing erosion risk.

  • No-Till Farming: This involves planting seeds directly into the residue of the previous crop, leaving a significant portion of the field covered with crop residue.

  • Contour Ploughing: Ploughing perpendicular to hill slopes using natural contours forms ridges and furrows that hinder water flow, aiding moisture absorption and erosion reduction.

  • Shifting Cultivation Mitigation: Encouraging tribal communities to adopt settled agriculture by providing land and agricultural tools.

Terrace Farming: Terracing creates nearly level platforms on hillside areas, using steps to prevent erosion. These terraces can be safeguarded with additional soil barriers.

Windbreaks: Strategically planting dense rows of trees on the windward side of fields susceptible to wind erosion provides year-round protection.

Salinity Management: Employing humic acids can counter excessive salination due to over-irrigation. Salt-tolerant plant species can lower water tables, reducing capillary and evaporative salt enrichment.

Natural Fertilizers: Reducing chemical fertilizer usage to prevent runoff and groundwater pollution. Natural fertilizers like livestock manure, mulch, and legume plants provide essential nutrients and organic matter.

Soil Conservation Initiatives:

  1. Watershed Development Project in Shifting Cultivation Areas (WDPSCA): Implemented since 1955, this initiative focuses on conserving hill slopes in shifting cultivation regions through watershed-based soil and water conservation methods.

  2. NABARD Loan - Soil & Water Conservation Scheme under RIDF (2001 onwards): Aims to promote sustainable development by conserving and managing soil and water resources.

  3. Rashtriya Krishi Vigyan Yojana (RKVY): Targets protecting topsoil, enhancing soil fertility, boosting crop and water productivity in watershed areas including wastelands and river valleys.

  4. Soil Health Card Scheme: Promotes balanced fertilizer use based on soil testing, enabling farmers to achieve higher yields at lower costs. It also educates farmers about optimal nutrient amounts for specific crops based on soil quality.

In summary, effective soil conservation strategies, coupled with well-implemented initiatives, are paramount to preserving India's soil health, ensuring sustainable agricultural productivity, and securing the prosperity of its population.

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