Every seasoned farmer knows the health of their topsoil significantly impacts their crops. Soil provides essential nutrients to plants, which means sub-par land can negatively impact crop production. However, soil degradation is at an all-time high in the United States, and one of the most significant contributors is erosion.
Erosion is the natural process where wind and water wear the top layers of the earth away. Unfortunately, this process is often unavoidable as wind will always blow, and water is a crucial aspect of agriculture. However, there are techniques you can implement to limit the effects of erosion on your bottom line. If you find signs of decay such as bald patches on your land, exposed rocks, or exposed roots, it’s time to make some changes to save your topsoil. If you need help with erosion control, you can consult with product providers like Granite Seed for insight. Additionally, you can try the following strategies to save your soil.
Because erosion occurs on exposed surfaces, you can protect your soil by limiting bare areas and planting vegetation. Plants are excellent tools to prevent decay since their leaves shield the ground from raindrops and their roots hold the soil in place. Incorporating cover crops into your rotation during seasons with harsh weather can preserve your land, saving it from the impact of devastating storms.
Tilling breaks the ground apart to facilitate new crop growth, but it also destroys the soil structure and drastically increases erosion. To prevent topsoil loss, strive to limit tillage or consider no-till farming if possible. Not only will you reduce erosion, but decaying plant material will also restore nutrients to the ground. In particular, perennial plants—which regrow each year— allow you to limit tillage and preserve precious topsoil.
Agriculture industry workers around the world rely on contour farming to maintain topsoil health. This farming technique refers to planting crops in level, curving rows that match the ground’s natural contour, inhibiting water runoff down slopes, and reducing erosion. Strip farming adapts the contour technique to very steep slopes, alternating crops with each row. Usually, a cover crop is used for one of the alternating rows to stop water from flowing down inclines.
If farmers learned anything from the 1930s Dust Bowl, it’s how devastating high-winds can be to farmland. To avoid damage from natural elements, plant shrubs or trees in rows around your fields, which will effectively block wind from blowing your crops and eroding your topsoil.
When working on your farm, water should be routed carefully around your cropland. Disastrous flooding can cause irreversible damage to fields, leaving the land unusable for next year’s crops. To avoid detrimental effects, implement diversion structures, which are paths designed to route water away from vulnerable areas.
To further prevent erosion, consider planting grass in waterways to stabilize the soil near the outlet. The grass will slowly runoff, protecting nearby water features.
From decreasing soil fertility to creating build-up, effectively blocking water flow in natural streams. Make sure to take advantage of tried-and-true techniques and keep resources on hand to keep your soil healthy and your crops thriving.