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Friday, June 4, 2021

Soil Conservation - Indian Geography

Soil Conservation - Indian Geography

Looking at the importance of soil resources for a country of over a billion people, judicious utilization and conservation of soil are of paramount importance. 

The farmers of the drier regions of Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Western Madhya Pradesh have successfully protected their fields from soil erosion by planting rows of trees to reduce the velocity of winds which continually erode soil cover. Soil conservation includes a reduction in soil erosion, afforestation, rational utilization of soils, and ways to enhance their sustainability.

Soil Conservation - Indian Geography

Some of the important steps which can go a long way in the conservation of soils are as under:

1. Afforestation:

Tree plantation helps in the reduction of soil erosion. Trees reduce the intensity of runoff and increase the seepage of water to the underground water table. Social forestry can be developed along the banks of rivers, canals, lakes, roads, and railway tracks.


2. Restriction of the Felling of Trees:

Apart from afforestation, it is equally important to check the indiscriminate felling of trees. People's awareness that resulted in the launch of the Chipko Movement can help in achieving this objective.


3. Contour Ploughing and Strip Cultivation:

In the hilly and mountainous areas, plowing should be done according to the contours and not in an up-down direction of the slope. Contour plowing is an effective way of checking soil erosion. Similarly, small strips can be developed on gentle slopes for sowing crops, which help overcome the menace of soil erosion.


4. Control of Floods:

In India, the problem of soil erosion is closely associated with floods. The floods generally occur during the rainy season. Efforts, therefore, need to be made for the storage of floodwater or the diversion of additional rainwater. The inter-connecting of rivers as in the Garland Canal Project or the Ganga-Kaveri Link Canal Project can be an immense help in this direction.


5. Reclamation of Ravine and Badlands:

Reclamation of gullies and ravines is also necessary to overcome the problem of soil erosion. Several such schemes involving plugging of gully mouths, construction of bunds across the gullies, leveling of gullies, afforestation, restriction on grazing are under implementation in the Chambal ravines of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan.


6. Restriction of Shifting Cultivation:

In the states of North-East India and Western and Eastern Ghats, shifting cultivation (slash and burn) is one of the main causes of soil erosion. The shifting cultivators need to be persuaded to stop shifting cultivation and be trained and motivated to adopt terraced farming. A scheme to control shifting cultivation has been launched in the seven states of NE- India. This is a beneficiary-oriented program that aims at the rehabilitation families of the Jhumias (shifting cultivators). There is a need to extend this program to other states of the country and gradually replace this agricultural system with sedentary farming.


7. Restoration of long Fallow:

There are 96 lakh hectares of fallow land. The old fallow land is mainly found in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh. This old fallow land can be brought under cultivation, grazing, and orchards with shall be helpful in the reduction of soil erosion.


8. Reclamation of Saline and Alkaline (Usar) Soil:

The saline and alkaline affected area in the country is more than 80 lakh hectares. It may be seen that the state of Kerala (24.47 lakh hectare) followed by Chattisgarh (23.55 lakh hectare) has soils majorly affected by salinity, alkalinity, and acidity. Application of cow-dung and gypsum are quite helpful in the reclamation of salt-affected soils.


9. Other measures of Soil Conservation:

The government of India has been attempting to check the soil erosion throughout the planning period. 

The following steps can go a long way in reducing the rate of soil erosion:

  • Construction of small dams across the tributaries of rivers in their upper reaches to control floods and soil erosion.
  • Linings of canals to stop seepage of water which leads to waterlogging.
  • Solving the problem of waterlogging by improving the surface and vertical drainage.
  • Formation of windbreak and shelterbelts in arid and semi-arid regions.
  • Increasing use of organic and compost manure.
  • Popularising the application of cow dung and green manure.
  • Scientific rotation of crops.
  • Filling up gullies and forming terraces along the slopes.
  • Leveling of ravines and planting of trees and grasses in the slopes.
  • Promotion of afforestation in the degraded soils.
  • Adopting the techniques of sustainable agriculture.
  • To educate the public about the diverse effects of soil erosion through seminars, conferences, and workshops in the regions of degraded soils.

As per the Ministry of Agriculture report, the Government of India aims to make India's land degradation neutral by 2030. In India, 69% (about 105 million hectares) is dry land and 32% of the land is undergoing desertification. About 1 mm of topsoil is being lost and due to soil erosion, the land being lost is 5334 million tonnes annually. The integrated land-use planning can stop or reverse the certification of the Indian land.

The non-non-judicious and excessive use of inorganic fertilizer (NPK) is deteriorating soil fertility and causing nutrient deficiencies. The use of irrigation water from the canal might lead to secondary salinization that also affects the quality of the soil.

Several schemes and projects have been initiated by the Government of India. 


Some of them are listed below:


  • Centrally Sponsored Scheme: Integrated Watershed Development Programme (IWDP) funded by the Department of Land Resources, Ministry of Rural Development, GoI.

  • Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY).

  • Cherrapunjee Ecological Project-Restoration of degraded land under Sohra Plateau.

👉 Previous Page: Major types of Soil - Indian Geography

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