Our soil is very important when it comes to our quality of life. It not only plays a role in how things grow but also in the air that we breathe. There are methods that can protect and conserve our soil at the same time. The goal here is to reduce erosion and to ensure the soil’s fertility. These can be performed by the average citizen or by entire business industries.
Applying good operating procedures is one idea in this process. Practicing overall, environmentally friendly habits is another idea and a successful method. Conservation approaches are a benefit to individual communities and the entire Earth.
“Essentially, all life depends upon the soil… There can be no life without soil and no soil without life; they have evolved together.”
~ Dr. Charles E Kellogg, Soil Scientist and Chief of the USDA’s Bureau for Chemistry and Soils
With so many environmental issues going around like air pollution, water pollution, land pollution, global warming, ocean acidification, depletion of the ozone layer, people are looking into ways of keeping our planet sound. One such way to do this is soil conservation.
Soil conservation is the prevention of soil loss from erosion or reduced fertility caused by over usage, acidification, salinization or other chemical soil contamination.
25+ Wonderful Ways to Conserve and Protect Soil
Let’s take a look at 25+ ways to protect and conserve the soil.
1. Forest Protection
The natural forest cover in many areas has been decreased due to commercial activity. One of the purposes this cover provided was the protection of the soil. Businesses involved in building constructions can conserve by ensuring these areas are protected.
2. Buffer Strips
Soil erosion is a large problem that is being battled around the country. This is particularly an issue where there are natural bodies of water. Buffer strips come in handy for conservation efforts. They provide protection where stream banks exist. They can be created with grass, trees and shrubs.
3. No-Till Farming
There are a number of approaches used when it comes to farming. It is possible to do this work and still conserve the soil. No-till farming is an approach that allows crops to remain in place for a season. This keeps the soil from being left bare and unprotected.
4. Fewer Concrete Surfaces
The soil requires an adequate amount of water in order to function properly. Lots of concrete surfaces, especially in residential areas, make it difficult for water to get to the soil.
Using paving stones for patios and gardens work to protect the soil. They are also a tool to prevent soil erosion in specific areas.
5. Plant Windbreak Areas
Windbreaks are composed of shrubs, plants and trees. They work in combination and serve a conservation purpose. These will work together to slow the force of wind over ground areas. This is a method that can also work to prevent erosion of soil.
6. Terrace Planting
This type of planting is done by maximizing the topography of the land. It benefits from the way the rainwater flows naturally. This is a way to protect the soil from erosion. It is also a proven method to encourage growth from moist soil areas.
7. Plant Trees to Secure Topsoil
Simply planting trees is a good conservation method as it secures topsoil and erosion is prevented. Sow grass and plant shrubs and other greenery in bare spots in your yard or garden. The foliage will absorb excess water and protect the topsoil from the impact of rain, heavy wind and foot traffic.
As the tree grows, its roots will also help anchor the soil once they take hold, securing the soil beneath from water runoff. Grass and plant roots also draw nutrients from deep in the soil closer to the surface, improving the quality of the topsoil.
Ryegrass and clover make excellent choices for basic groundcover. Their roots spread deep and hold fast. Other useful anchoring plants include grains such as wheat, barley, and rye and crops of root vegetables like radishes.
8. Crop Rotation
The way you plant your crops can have an impact on the soil. Crop rotation is a process that works to conserve soil. It is accomplished by planting and growing a series of different crops in the same soil. This process prevents overgrowth of pathogens and a lack of fertility in the soil, overall.
9. Water the Soil
This is a simple process that provides a lot of benefits to the soil. Watering your soil along with plants and vegetables is important. This helps to not only nourish the soil but to protect it. Moist soil is not in danger of erosion due to wind activity.
10. Maintain pH
The pH levels in the soil can be affected by a number of things. Pollutants and acids are just two examples in this category. Purchasing a soil tester is a good way to monitor your soil’s levels. This also allows you to learn what needs to be added to ensure healthy soil and conservation.
11. Add Earthworms
There are a variety of things that live in the soil around us. You can add earthworms to your soil to ensure its health. This is a conservation method that encourages the decomposition of organic material. This is what earthworms do on a regular basis. They increase the soil’s ability to absorb nutrients.
12. Indigenous Crops
Farming is all about diversity, but indigenous crops are important. These are native crop options that enhance the soil. Planting these is a way to ensure conservation efforts. They should be planted even when diverse crops are being planted, as well.
Mulch is one of the great conservation tools that protect the soil, and the majority of these are used simply to beautify lawns. Mulch works to prevent erosion from the wind. It is also a great product to help the soil to retain the water it needs.
Spread a thin layer of mulch around the base of thriving plants during peak growing season. The mulch will keep the soil from being exposed to wind and water while preserving important nutrients and moisture in the soil at the root-level.
There are a number of different mulch products available on the market. Mulch can be bought cheap at any gardening center, or you can easily make at home by feeding scrap wood, live foliage and decaying plant matter into a shredder forming a composite.
Planting trees is a method of conserving the soil. Protecting the areas under trees, also called afforestation, is another method. This means planting foliage in forest undergrowth areas. This works to encourage healthy soil and water absorption.
15. Monitor Grazing
Farmers in different industries can play a critical role in conserving soil. These are often farmers with animals that graze. Monitoring the areas that cows and other animals graze is important.
This helps to prevent the depletion of the soil. It also addresses the issue of hoof damage, which can occur to the soil.
Dams are important resources when it comes to soil conservation. These structures work to prevent soil erosion. This is especially important in areas where rivers exist. Flooding of rivers has been the cause of many instances of soil erosion. Dams also offer additional protection.
Not all fertilizer products are effective for conservation efforts. The composition of these fertilizers can be the problem. Ingredients that damage the soil affect the crops that are grown. At the same time, there may be lasting damage to the soil itself.
18. No Compacting
A simple conservation method that some gardeners and farmers apply is not to compact the soil. This is a protection method that is helpful.
You can do this by creating dedicated paths in your garden. This helps you not to walk on wet soil, causing it to be compacted.
19. Control Storm Water
Setting up large containers to hold excess water in problem locations is helpful. This water can be reused for watering gardens and yards.
20. Monitor Growth
When crops or plants grow normally, they have a healthy appearance. If there is a problem with the growth, often the soil is the issue.
Checking the salient composition and fertility is important. This is done through regular monitoring of the soil and overall plant growth.
21. Accent Vegetation
There are certain types of vegetation that act as an accent to the planting process. These don’t only have visual appeal; they help planted items grow properly.
Clover and rye are two examples of these accents. These vegetation ideas can work to prevent runoff, which in turn protects the soil.
22. Tilling Approach
The no-till approach is one of the best when it comes to soil conservation. Individuals may opt to find a less harmful way to till the soil. This process can work to enhance the soil’s composition. It is important to consider your crops, garden location and the amount of rainwater it gets before tilling the soil.
23. No-digging Gardening
Building a no-dig garden involves layering materials over the topsoil to plant crops and other vegetation so that there’s no need to disturb the soil itself. When gardening is done above the soil, soil is not exposed to harsh digging and watering that can damage soil and lead to erosion.
Make multiple no-digging plots to serve as flower beds or patches for growing crops that require similar soil conditions. The basic structure is mostly the same, layering multiple tiers of compostable matter over a permeable surface like cardboard directly on top of the ground.
24. Dig Drainage Channels to Guide Rainwater Runoff
Create channels where water might collect and around the edges of your property to redirect runoff water. Drainage channels reduce runoff and keep surges of water from carrying off soil or killing plants due to overwatering.
You can also dig a simple paved irrigation ditch by hand or embed PVC or drainage pipe into the channel to install what is called a “French Drain” to keep water away with greater efficiency.
25. Install a Rain Barrel or Catch Basin
A rain barrel or catch basin can be implemented to collect excess water if precipitation tends to cause flooding in your area. In this case, rainwater is “caught” in the basin that is installed underground with a grated drainage opening, or directed straight into a barrel and saved for later use. These methods repurpose extra water instead of simply letting it erode vulnerable topsoil.
It’s easy to install catch basins yourself. It requires measuring the unit and digging a hole of right dimensions to accommodate it at the bottom of a slope.
26. Contact a Soil Expert
There are professional landscapers and certain ecological restoration non-profit groups which offer soil restoration services and assist in repairing the badly eroded soil around your home voluntarily or for little cost.
They assess the severity of the soil damage on your property by performing a detailed examination of your land and come up with solutions for restoring the soil to its natural health.
Even if your soil is healthy, you should consult with a professional landscaper at least once a year to inspect your property for potential problems and discuss preventative solutions.
27. Consider the Soil Amendment
After you diagnose various deficiencies in soil in consultation with a landscaper or other soil expert, the amendment is the process by which missing nutrients are added to eroded soil directly to restore the right chemical balance.
Many different types of amendments can be used. Compost is a common amendment that is used for gardening purposes along with others such as organic fertilizers, salt and peat. Soil amendment can be used in conjunction with aeration, earthworm introduction and meticulous watering to bring back the health of the soil.
In order to select the right amendment for your soil, it is first necessary to identify the exact properties your soil lacks.
Conservation is done through efforts applied right now. The broader goal for these efforts leads to the future. There are natural occurrences, like storms, that cause their fair share of erosion problems.