Soil And Water Conservation Methods – Management Practices
a) Strip cropping: This consists of growing erosion permitting crops and erosion resisting crops in alternate strips. The erosion permitting crops are cotton, jawar, bajara, etc. which allow the run off water to flow freely within the rows. The erosions resisting crops are mostly legumes like groundnut, much (Phaseolus aconitiolius), hulgn (Dolichos biflorus), Sow bear (Glycine max) which spread and cover the soil and do not allow run off water to carry much soil with it the soil which flows from the strips growing erosion permiuming crops is caught by the alternating springs.
In selecting a suitable legume crop it should be seen that the maximum canopy and root development of the crop coincide with the period of high intensity of rainfall.
b) Mulching : A mulch is natural or artificially applied layer of plant residues or other material on the surface of the soil with the object of moisture conservation, temperature control, prevention of surface compaction or crust formation, reduction of run off and erosion, improvement in soil structure and weed control. Artificial mulches of different kinds such as Jowar or bajara stubbles, stubbles, paddy straw or husk, sawdust etc., increase absorption of water and minimize evaporation. They also control run off and soil losses.
c) Rotation of crops: Rotation means growing a set of crops in a regular succession over the same field within a specified period of time. Continuous growing of Jowar or bajara crop causes more erosion, but if followed by a legume crop viz., hulga, matki or gram which covers the soil is causes less erosion. Rotation also helps in removal of plant nutrients in a uniform way from future depth of soil and in maintaining the fertility of the soil in dry farming region of Maharashtra adoption of gram Jowar rotation not only helps in conservation of moisture but also in increasing the crop yields the beneficial effect of rotation can be seen from the following table.
d) Contour cultivation: Tillage operations viz., ploughing, harrowing, sowing and Interculture should be done across the slope of land. This will help in creating obstructions to the flow of water at every furrow, which acts like a small bund and results in uniform distribution of water. This helps more initration of water less run off and erosion, and gives higher crop yield. Any cultivation done along the slope will accelerate golly formation, more run off and erosion and consequently permanent damage to land.
e) Planting of grasses for stabilizing bunds: Grasses prevent soil erosion and improve soil structure. The entire soil mass is penetrated by countless roots and soil aggregates and particles are enmeshed by the root system. Grasses should be grown on bunds which are not suitable for cultivation, both for checking erosion and providing pasture for cattle. Several grasses as well as legumes were tried on bunds at the Agricultural Research Station; Solapur which receives about 600 mm. of rainfall to see which of them will withstand drought conditions, give maximum root growth and canopy coverage, and stabilize bunds effectively. It was observed that anjan planted with spacing of 15 x 15 cm., produced the highest quantity of roots, followed by marvel – 8, Rhodes, thin Napier, blue panic, and kusal .Legumes do not have many roots but produce better canopy within a short period, while grasses are under the process of establishment. Planting of legumes mixed with grasses is, therefore, advantageous in preventing soil erosion in initial stages.
f) Planting of trees and afforestation: Forests conserve soil and water quite effectively. They not only obstruct the flow of water, but the falling leaves provide organic matter which increases the water holding capacity of the soil. If tree planting is done in the planned manner in open areas, it will serve as good wind break and if done along the banks of streams and rivers, it will regulate their flow. Farm forestry is another important aspect in soil and water conservation. The danger caused by deforestation has been only recently appreciated and a big plantation programme of hybrid eucalyptus, teak, casurina has been taken up by the Forest Departments in reserve forests, catchments areas of irrigation projects and on Government waste lands Vanamahotsava is also observed every year in the early part of monsoon and millions of trees are planted by the public with the help of the maff of the Agricultural and Forest Departments local bodies like Zillah Paris had, Panchayat Samitis and Gram Panchayat What is however important is to pay proper attention planted.
g) Cashew ant plantation : In coastal districts of Maharashtra which receive more than, 1,250 mm. rainfall a new programme of cahsewnut plantation has been undertaken from 1963 – 64 on hills having slope between 10 and 20 p.c.The sea breeze is conducive to the growth of cahsewnut plants and they do not require much aftercare once they establish in the soil. Staggered trenches of 300 x 30 x 30 cm. size are dug on contours at a distance of 6m. Cashew plants are raised in polythene bagsin nurseries and two months olds a plings are planted on the lower side of the trench with plant to plant distance of 6m.