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What steps can be taken to control soil erosion in the hilly areas?

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  • Last Updated : 10 Jul, 2022
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Soil erosion is a natural process in which topsoil is displaced by physical sources such as wind and water. In the process,  soil particles are loosened or washed out into valleys, seas, rivers, streams, or distant lands. Human activities such as agriculture and deforestation are exacerbating the situation.   Soil erosion is a continuous process that occurs slowly or at an alarming rate. This leads to permanent loss of topsoil, environmental degradation, and soil collapse.  

Corrective Measures  

  • Watershed development projects must provide for soil and water quality conservation, land use, crop selection, and tillage practices, agricultural practices, degraded land recovery, erosion control, reforestation planning, shrubs, grasses, and fodder soybean cultivation.  
  • Implementation of this resource planning strategy requires a complete mapping and socioeconomic investigation.
  • The aspirations, needs, character, habits, and customs of the local population must be well coordinated with the production plan of the watershed.  They must meet people’s needs for fuel, feed, energy, water, crop selection, and horticulture. 
  • The Plan must provide for the development and restoration of wastelands, pastures, agricultural forests, quarries, and public forests.
  • The expanded solid green cover ensures good penetration of water supplied to the subterranean pool.  
  • Forests and agricultural land must not be damaged by road construction in order to maintain ecological balance. 
  •  Some mountain slopes are exposed to long-term sunlight and are usually very bright due to their clear atmosphere. This energy can be used for a variety of purposes, including pumping water from deeper rivers and reservoirs. Provided the basic infrastructure to harness this huge solar energy potential is provided, these devices can be of tremendous value.

Steps To Prevent Soil Erosion

Afforestation 

Forests play an important role in the fight against soil erosion. Forest canopies absorb the erosion force of raindrops, while forest floors protect the soil and help absorb more rainwater, reducing runoff. Afforestation of economic farms should be carried out on contour shelves, taking into account the peculiarities of the terrain.

Crop Rotation

Fields remain bare between harvesting one crop and sowing the next. There are periods when crops are not available on farmland. During this period, farmers grow grass or other crops to prevent soil erosion. This helps the soil recover lost minerals.

Terrace Farming  

In hilly areas, farming is done by cutting stairs on the mountain slope. This slows the flow of water and the soil removed in one stage settles in the next. So the soil is not completely lost. 

River and Landslide Correction

River erosion problems are exacerbated in the foothills of the northern Himalayas and the northeastern Himalayas. A major cause of the problem is the reduced ability to transport runoff and sediment due to high runoff from mountain slopes with heavy silt filling the channel bottom.

Landslides provide adequate drainage and can be controlled using barrier dams, building retaining walls, etc. made of rocks, masonry, and living plants.   All of these actions require engineering skills and are expensive. Immediately after the skid zone is stabilized by engineering measures, active efforts should be made to cover the surface with permanent vegetation, including fast-growing suitable trees.

Stone Terracing of Hill Slopes

Steep slopes when put under cultivation are subject to severe erosion, with every rain the topsoil is washed away at an accelerated rate. In such areas, if stones are available in plenty, the construction of stone walls across the slope will help in conserving soil.

These stone walls, known as stone terraces, are small embankments constructed with stones across the hill slope and these can be adopted on any slope where stones are available in plenty at the spot. A large area of ​​the Mukunda (Orissa) basin is covered with stone terraces and based on our experience, we recommend the following stone terrace specifications:   Section can be 0.5 m2 depending on the depth of the foundation. If the slope increases by more than 10%, it is better to give a foundation of 30cm instead of 15cm, and the level of the stone fault should be done using the  Dumpy level or Abney level. Terraces should be given a longitudinal slope of 0.2 to 0.3 m per 100 m towards the outlet or storm sewer.

Sample Questions

Question 1: How does soil resistance increase erosion?  

Answer:

 By maintaining the physical structure of the soil, it can increase the soil’s resistance to erosion. Good agricultural practices allow the application of appropriate organic fertilizers by burying crop residues.

Question 2: How does soil erosion affect crop yield?  

Answer:

Soil erosion can reduce soil fertility and negatively affect crop yields. It can also send soil-saturated water downstream, creating heavy sedimentary layers that impede the smooth flow of streams and streams downstream and can eventually lead to flooding. Soil erosion, once it occurs,  is likely to repeat itself.

Question 3: What forces lead to maximum soil erosion?  

Answer:

 Water and wind erosion are the two main causes of land degradation. Together, they account for about 84% of the total area deforested, making excessive erosion one of the most serious environmental problems worldwide.

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