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Essay on Soil Conservation
- Essay on the Introduction to Soil Conservation in India
- Essay on the Principles of Soil Conservation
- Essay on Soil Conservation Research and Training Centers
- Essay on Soil Conservation Regions in India
- Essay on Soil Conservation Problems in India
- Essay on Soil Conservation Programmes under Five Year Plans
- Essay on the Approaches to Soil Conservation
- Essay on the Planning of Soil Conservation Strategies
- Essay on Soil Conservation Strategies for Cultivated and Non-Cultivated Lands
Essay # 1. Introduction to Soil Conservation in India:
In India about 81 m. million hectare lands out of total geographical area of 326.8 m.hectares are affected by erosion problem. In other terms “out of net cultivated area of 185.8 m ha, 56.7 m ha lands are suffering from erosion either due to water or wind. Out of these about 40 mha lands are badly affected and need immediate control measures.
The dominating factors which are responsible for producing the problems of soil erosion in India, are the excessive deforestation, overgrazing, faulty agricultural practices and occurrence of flood.
In order to maximize the extent of net cultivable area, the importance is now given to the soil conservation work in the country. In the first five year plan, the urgency has been given for making the nationwide policy, dealing with various existing problems, which resulted into recognization of soil and water conservation work plan.
In the first five year plan (1954 to 1956) the soil conservation schemes were approved in three heads; they are the immobilizing of deserts, bunding and terracing on hilly lands and afforestation of ravines and severely eroded areas. In which, about 2.8 lakh hectares land were used for bunding and terracing practices in the first five year plan.
In addition, eight regional training cum research centres were also established to study the soil conservation problems of the country. During this, the Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Jodhpur was established to undertake the studies on the desert problems existing in the state of Rajasthan.
The Central Soil and Water Conservation Research and Training Institute, Dehradun as one of the ICAR institutes was also established in 1954 as a central body to conduct different activities regarding soil conservation, which was subsequently recognized as central institute in the year of 1974. This institute has 8 regional research centres all over the country, located at Chandigarh to tackle the Siwalik foothill problems, Agra, Kota, Vasad, Bellary, Oata Chamund, Koraput and Datia.
Similarly, in the second five year plan the soil conservation works such as contour bunding and terracing were carried out with rapid progress, and an area of about 8 lakh hectares was completed. Soil conservation and land use survey was also initiated on about 5 lakh ha land. In addition, the soil conservation measures were also conducted on different catchment areas of major river valleys of the country as very urgent, to check the increasing rate of silt deposition in the reservoirs.
Essay # 2. Principles of Soil Conservation:
The ultimate objective of soil conservation is to have maximum sustainable level of production from the given land piece along with maintaining the soil loss below the threshold limit. The threshold value of soil loss theoretically reveals the balance between the natural rate of soil formation and the soil erosion.
Also, the objective need to reduce the erosion for checking nutrient loss from the agricultural land, or indirectly to prevent the pollution of water bodies; to decrease the sedimentation rate in reservoirs, rivers, canals and ditches are very important. In longer term, the soil erosion is required to control the land deterioration or it gets to be abandoned which cannot be reclaimed thereafter, because of limited options for future land use.
Since, soil erosion is the natural process, therefore, it cannot be prevented, but can be reduced to an acceptable limit. On this aspect, a decision is required to take, that the soil erosion rate should not affect the sustained agricultural production, along with minimizing the environmental impacts.
Overall, the strategies of soil conservation should be based on the following main points:
I. Development of soil cover to protect the soil from raindrop impact.
II. Increasing infiltration capacity of the soil to reduce the erosion impact.
III. Increasing infiltration capacity of soil to reduce the runoff.
IV. Improving aggregate stability of the soil; and
V. Increasing surface roughness to reduce the runoff velocity.
The objective of soil conservation can be fulfilled by various measures, in which the agronomic measures, soil management and mechanical measures are the main. The agronomic or biological measures utilize the vegetations to minimize the erosion. Soil management refers to the practices for preparing the soil to generate a vigorous vegetative growth and improve soil structure so that there would be good resistant against particles detachment or soil erosion.
The mechanical measures manipulate the land topography for controlling soil loss. The bunds and terraces are the main structures under mechanical measures used for controlling the flow of water, and thereby checking the soil loss.
When deciding the conservation measures to employ, the first preference should always be given to the agronomical measures; not to the mechanical measures, because of the following reasons:
I. Very less expansive as compared to the mechanical measures.
II. Develop direct effect on reducing the raindrop impact; increasing the infiltration rate; reducing the runoff volume and decreasing the water velocity.
III. Mechanical measures are ineffective on their own, because they cannot prevent detachment of soil particles. The main role of mechanical structures is to supplement the agronomical measures.
Essay # 3. Soil Conservation Research and Training Centers:
In India, the research on soil and water conservation was started around in the thirties of this century. For the purpose, in 1953 the Government of India set up Soil Conservation Board, which chairman is the Union Agriculture Minister, and members of it are appointed from different departments and organisations.
The main function of this board is to coordinate the soil conservation research programmes throughout the country. This board also set ups different regional research centres, demonstration and training centres for pursuance of different objectives related to soil conservation.
The different research centres and their research problems dealt, are given as under:
Apart from above soil and water conservation research centres, the Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Jodhpur (Rajasthan) is also conducting several valuable research programs in the field of soil and water conservation, especially for arid zones. The Soil Conservation Centre, Hazaribagh is also dealing the soil conservation problem of Damodar Valley area.
The establishment dates of different soil conservation research, demonstration and training centres in India are given in Table 1.3.
The all above soil conservation centres were transferred to ICAR in Oct., 1967. The Central Soil and Water Conservation Research Demonstration and Training Centre, Hyderabad became as headquarter of AICRP for Dry land Agriculture, which is now named as CRIDA. In 1952 at Jodhpur a Desert Afforestation Research Station was also established, which was re-designated as Desert Afforestation and Soil Conservation Station in the year 1957, which now is CAZRI.
Essay # 4. Soil Conservation Regions in India:
For integrated planning of land resources to meet the requirements of primary production sectors and also socio-economic development sectors, it is very essential to carry out the exercise on delineation of the entire country into different identified areas/zones/regions, based on suitable parameters, which represent similar potential problems and socio-economic compulsions. In this direction, Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Agriculture and Indian Council of Agricultural Research made a combine effort to delineate the entire geographical area of country into ten (10) soil conservation regions.
These are given as under:
1. North Himalayan Region.
2. North-Eastern Himalayan Region.
3. Assam Valley and Gangetic Delta Region.
4. Desert Areas Region.
5. Indo-Gangetic Alluvial Plain Region.
6. Eastern Red Soil Region.
7. Southern Red Soil Region.
8. Black Soil Region.
9. Mixed Black and Red-Yellow Soil Region.
10. East-West Coast and Island Region.
Essay # 5. Soil Conservation Problems in India:
As per research findings, for generating 2.5cm soil depth about 1000 years are required, while a faulty farming system can destroy 2.5cm soil depth within few years by augmenting the soil erosion rate from an average sloppy land. In India, majority of areas are under severe effects of soil erosion problems.
In other words, there is very little area free from the soil erosion problem. However, the severity of soil erosion problem is being more in humid and sub-humid areas due to high rainfall and improper management of land and water. As per report, out of 305.9 million hectares area, about 45 million hectares are in need of urgent conservation measures.
The agricultural lands share more aerial extent regarding erosion problem. Apart from reduction in crop yields due to loss of nutrients, the erosion also destroy the soil resources every year at alarming rate. In Maharashtra (India) more than 70% of cultivated area has been reported to get affected by the erosion in varying degrees. And about 32% of lands are heavily eroded, which are no longer to cultivable.
In Sholapur district (Maharashtra) due to erosion about 17% medium depth lands (more than 45 cm) have been converted into shallow depth lands (less than 45 cm) in 75 years period (1870 to 1945). Similarly, the districts of Akola, Buldana and Yeotmal have also been reported to have such problems. About 2.3million ha lands are already under ravines, which constantly threat to the adjoining fertile cultivated lands.
The Shivalik hills where forests and vegetations have been denudated; the Himalayas; the Western Ghats; the Eastern Ghats and the mountainous regions of Deccan have been under severe soil erosion problems, and agricultural lands have been destroyed.
In Hoshiarpur (Punjab) an area of about 19,282 ha has been under erosion, which has increased to 32,022 ha from 1984 to 37,730 ha up to 1997 and is expected to about 60,000 ha up to 2036. In the Himalayan regions, because of improper land management, the problem of landslides and land- slips are also in very serious stage. The status of soil conservation problems in India is presented in Table 1.6.
Essay # 6. Soil Conservation Programmes under Five Year Plans:
The salient features of land management and soil conservation programmes carried out during different live year plans are described as under:
A. First Five Year Plan (1951-52 to 1955-56):
Under this five year plan, the following main aspects of land management and soil conservation were taken into consideration:
1. Creation of resources for facilitating the research and training programmes in the field of land management and soil conservation.
2. Streamlining of administrative and organisational structures dealing the problems of land management and soil conservation.
3. Establishment of Soil Conservation Board at national level to co-ordinate and guide land management and soil conservation programmes throughout the country.
4. Establishment of nine soil conservation research and demonstration centres.
They are at:
(iv) Hazari bagh,
(vii) Ooctamund, and
(vii) Vasad and Chatra (Nepal).
5. The soil conservation centre was also opened at Jodhpur for conducting the study on the problems related to arid zones. This centre was renamed as CAZRI, Jodhpur, later on.
B. Second Five Year Plan (1956-57 to 1960-61):
The followings are the main salient features of this five year plan, regarding land management and soil conservation:
1. The All India Soil and Land use Survey Organisation was established at central level.
2. The centrally sponsored schemes were stressed on implementation of conservation measures in the catchments of major river valley projects.
C. Third Five Year Plan (1966-67 to 1968-69):
In this five year plan, the works which were carried out during previous three five years plan were continued. Since, the period was very short, therefore, the meaningful result could not achieved.
D. Fourth Five Year Plan (1969-70 to 1973-74):
During this five year plan the following main achievements were obtained:
1. The research and training centres were further strengthened.
2. The All India Soil and Land Use Survey was become able to prepare a detail analysis of different watersheds of the country. On the basis of relative erodibility, all the watersheds were classified into sub-watersheds.
3. Afforestation practices were undertaken at broader scale to improve the conditions of degraded lands.
4. The Integrated Watershed Management was successfully undertaken in different parts of the country.
The catchments of major river valley projects were also included in this programme.
E. Fifth Five Year Plan (1974-75 to 1977-78):
In this five year plan the problems undertaken during previous plans were continued for investigating more results.
However, the main achievements obtained during Vth five year plan were as under:
1. The land reclamation and development organisations were opened in different states of the country.
2. Lands subject to the careful practices due to shifting cultivation were taken into consideration at large scale.
3. The projects carrying out on Land management and Soil conservation were further integrated.
4. The DPAP, FPAP and RDP were also introduced, in which
DPAP: Drought Prone Area Programme
FPAP: Flood Prone Area Programme
RDP: Rural Development Programme
5. For reclaiming ravine areas of Yamuna, Chambal and Mahi rivers new technologies were introduced.
6. For developing the package of practices to tackle the problem areas of the country, new research schemes were also formulated.
7. New technologies for landslide and gully control were also searched out and tested successfully in the field.
F. Sixth Five Year Plan (1980-81 to 1984-85):
The main achievements of this plan were as follows:
1. In this plan period more concentrations were made on the treatment of small watersheds which area varies up to 2000 ha. It was derived as conclusion that smaller watersheds are more manageable than the bigger watersheds.
2. Areal seeding technique was introduced for afforestation purposes of ravine areas.
3. In this plan an intensive programme for integrated management of about 200 sub-watersheds of 8 flood prone catchments of Ganga River were under taken for study purposes.
4. For continuous monitoring of different water management programmes a system was developed.
5. For erosion control in mountainous regions more attention was paid.
G. Seventh Five Year Plan (1985-86 to 1989-90):
The main features of this plan are as under:
1. Adoption of afforestation practices in watersheds.
2. More attention was given on providing of soil conservation trainings.
3. Development of appropriate institutional framework with a view to forge a close relationship amongst different departments and organisations, which are associated to the soil and water conservation schemes.
4. For better effectiveness of different soil and water conservation projects more concentration was given on their monitoring work.
Apart from above, the plan wise area treated and expenditure incurred under them are given in Table 1.7.
Essay # 7. Approaches to Soil Conservation:
By the definition of soil erosion, it is well clear that if soil is covered the water intake capacity of soil is increased; stability of soil aggregates is improved and surface roughness also gets increase, as a result the detachment and transport of soil particles by rain splash, runoff/overland flow and wind are significantly checked.
The presence of soil cover dissipates the impact of rain drops and thereby reduction in soil erosion. Increase in intake capacity of the soil makes the runoff rate to reduce, virtually the soil erosion also reduced, accordingly. The surface roughness reduces the overland flow velocity and also of wind effect to detach the soil particles.
The widely used methods are as follows:
I. Agronomic or biological measures.
II. Soil management; and
III. Mechanical measures.
For deciding the conservation measures to employ, the preference is always given to the agronomic measures, because:
I. They are less expensive.
II. Directly deal to reduce the rain drop impact, increase the infiltration rate, reduce runoff volume and decrease the velocity of runoff and wind.
III. Easier to fit them into existing farming systems.
Basically, the agronomic or biological measures utilize the conductive effects of vegetations to minimize the soil erosion.
The management approach to soil conservation is concerned, it deals the ways of preparing the soil to promote dense vegetative growth and improve its structure so that it can create more resisting surface for reducing the impact of rain and wind and soil erosion, thereby.
The mechanical measures are constructed/used by manipulating the surface topography; and are ineffective on their own because they cannot prevent the detachment of soil particles. Their main role is to act as supplement measure for agronomic measures used to control the flow of excess water and wind. In other words, the mechanical measures can be as an attempt to control the water or wind’s energy for checking the erosion.
The mechanical measures are being costly to install and also their maintenance. Some mechanical structures like, terraces and bunds create problems for agricultural operations. Unless the soil depth is sufficient at the given site, the terrace construction is not feasible.
At shallow soil depth, the terrace construction exposes the bed rock or less fertile sub-soils and therefore it results in low crop yield. Similarly, on irregular slopes the terraces are varied in width, which makes the use of farm machineries difficult. Apart from above, there is always risk of terrace failure due to severe storm with return periods of 20 years or more.
The agronomic measures combined with good soil management practices provide better influence on detachment and transportation of soil particles in the process of soil erosion, whereas mechanical measures are effective in controlling the transportation process by creating checks at regular intervals along the water flow course. Voetberg (1970) and Morgan (1986) have shown the effect of various soil conservation measures on detachment and transportation of soil particles in soil erosion process, cited in Table 1.8.
Essay # 8. Planning of Soil Conservation Strategies:
For reducing soil erosion in effective manner, the formulation of soil conservation schemes must be based on appropriate design, considering most appropriate sequence of events associated to the soil erosion phenomena. The success of any soil conservation scheme or plan depends very much on how accurately the nature of erosion problem has been identified and on the suitability of conservation measures selected to deal the problem and relation to the agricultural land use system, which is easy to implement by the farmers or other personnel.
The sequence of events to be considered for planning soil conservation strategy, suggested by Perrens and Trustrum (1984) are given as under:
(A) Land and Water Resource Inventory:
(i) Land Resource Inventory:
a. Erosion and present land use
b. Physical Factors – soils, geology, rainfall, land slope, vegetation, micro- relief and drainage pattern.
(ii) Water Resource Inventory:
a. Existing development and use
b. Physical Factors – stream flow, floods, water quality and sedimentation.
(B) Land Capability Assessment and Erosion Sedimentation Index:
(i) Land Capability Assessment:
Assessment of Capability and Suitability of Land Scape Units
(ii) Erosion/Sedimentation Index:
a. Identification of sources of erosion hazard and fate of the sediment.
b. Ranking of landscape unit and elements based on erosion and sedimentation sources and sinks.
(C) Potential Land Use and Suitability and Conservation Needs:
(i) Potential Land Use and Suitability:
Based on resource capacities and constraints, e.g.-
D-extensive cropping and grazing
(ii) Conservation Needs:
Consideration of socio-economic factors and integrating soil conservation with land use systems.
(D) Conservation Need with Land Use Potential:
C-gully control works
D-contour cultivation and strip cropping
E-zero or minimum tillage.
(E) Options and Priorities:
i. Economic analysis (benefit/cost analysis) to evaluate the alternatives, e.g.-
1. Reservation of A and B for forestory.
2. Developing farming system for D.
3. Improving productivity of C.
4. Development of cropping and tillage system for E.
(F) Management Actions:
a. Wind erosion
b. Sheet erosion
e. Land slides
g. Stream bank.
(G) Quantification of Impacts on Landscape and Productivity, i.e:
a. Loss of top soil (C, D, E)
b. Sediment yield from stream bank (D, E)
c. Sediment deposition on land (E)
d. Sedimentation in reservoir
e. Increase in flood height
f. Declination in crop productivity
g. Declination in range land productivity
h. Water quality change
i. Decrease in water yield
j. Reduction in reservoir output due to sedimention.
(H) Evaluation of Impacts:
a. Cost of erosion control
b. Benefits due to increased yield
c. Value of irrigation water.
Essay # 9. Soil Conservation Strategies for Cultivated and Non-Cultivated Lands:
Soil Conservation Strategies for Cultivated Land:
The problem of soil erosion in cultivated land gets generate, particularly when soil is being without cover or when trees, bushes or grasses have been removed.
Normally, the erosion gets accelerated, when:
a. Attempting to slopes that are too steep.
b. Cultivating up and down the slope.
c. Continuous use bf land for the same crop without rotation.
d. Use of fertilizers and organic matters in inadequate quantity.
e. Compaction of soil through use of heavy machineries and pulverizing the soil at the time of seed bed preparation.
The aim of soil conservation strategies for cultivated land is to establish and maintain a good ground cover for controlling the soil erosion. Its feasibility is predicted on the basis of crops being grown and how quickly they are capable to produce 40 to 50 percent ground cover. The study indicates that the tall trees and low-growing crops with big leaves are the least effective in protecting the soil. Similarly, continuous growing of cereals, rubber, oil palm, grape, maize, sugar beet etc., causes moderate to severe erosion problem.
The flow chart showing the soil conservation strategies for cultivated and non-cultivated lands, developed by EL-Swaify, Dangler and Armstrong (1982) is illustrated in Fig. 1.1 and 1.2, respectively.
Soil Conservation Strategies for Non-Cultivated Lands:
The non-cultivated land is concerned the pasture lands are taken into consideration for preparing the soil conservation strategies. The pasture lands consist of dense grass cover and normally not have the soil erosion problem. Erosion problem in these lands mainly arises, when the vegetative cover is removed either due to over grazing or by drought and excessive burning. For such lands, the control of erosion is mainly achieved by the use of agronomic measures and soil management techniques. The erosion control measures are appended in the flow chart, shown in Fig. 1.2.
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