At the most basic, erosion is when elements like soil, rocks, and sediment are worn away and transported by forces such as water and wind. In cases like the Grand Canyon, it can happen over millions of years as a river gradually carves away at the stone.
However, when it comes to agriculture, soil erosion often happens fast. A big rainstorm or strong winds can wash away the vital layer of nutrient-rich topsoil, leaving your land depleted. Some of the other detrimental impacts of soil erosion include...
Reduced ability to store water and nutrients
Higher rates of water runoff
Loss of young or newly planted crops
Low crop yields
Increased pollution and sediment in waterways
If you’re concerned about soil erosion on your land, there are several steps you can take to slow it down or prevent it. Depending on where you live and the environmental factors, you can customize your approach to meet your needs. Here are six solutions to help stop soil erosion...
Increase Organic Matter
Healthy soil is made up of the ideal mixture of water, air, minerals, and organic materials. There are many sources for organic materials, some of the most common being decomposing plant or animal materials found in compost or fertilizer. When organic material is in the right balance, it increases the soil’s water-holding capacity and reduces erosion. While you might be able to mix compost in by hand for a small garden, larger plots of land can use a tractor with tillage attachments to get just the right balance efficiently.
Plant a Cover Crop
One of the most effective ways to slow erosion is by planting a cover crop. Cover crops help return nutrients to the land and are typically planted between growing seasons so the soil isn’t bare. In addition to preventing soil erosion, cover crops can help control weeds, pests, and diseases. Common cover crops include mustard, alfalfa, rye, and buckwheat. If you’re wondering where you’ll find the time for this extra planting, tractor attachments like the precision seeder can plant up to three seed types simultaneously.
Supplement Bare Areas
Even if you don’t use your land for agriculture, heavily trafficked, bare patches of land are still prone to soil erosion. One quick fix for this issue is to supplement the soil with other materials. For areas that don’t have vegetation or see lots of activity, you can use mulch, gravel, or matting to slow the erosion process down. With the help of a box scraper, you can even turn those bare patches into level, precisely manicured plots and pathways.
Rain and wind are two of the most common soil erosion culprits. Though you might not be able to stop the rain from falling from the sky, windbreaks can drastically slow down the wind whipping across your property. Typically, windbreaks are made up of several rows of dense trees and shrubs that absorb the wind and block it from reaching your fields.
Build Terraces or Retaining Walls
Sloped land comes with its own set of issues. As water runs down the slope, it can quickly wash away precious topsoil. One of the most effective ways to prevent this is by building terraces or retaining walls. Terraces create a series of stepped, level areas so the water soaks into the ground instead of simply running downhill. Constructing terraces can require moving large amounts of land. Luckily, tractors in the YT3 Series and YM Series have a 2,500 pound front lift capacity at the pivot pin to make light work of heavy loads.
Having animals and livestock on your land creates an additional opening for erosion. As they tread across the same ground over and over, it becomes impossible for new plants to regrow. This bare soil becomes more susceptible to the detrimental effects of wind and water erosion. To counteract this, you can use a method called rotational grazing. It separates the pasture into specific areas so each section gets a rest period and opportunity to regrow.
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