At Home Soil Conservation
The use of fertile land for crops is essential for our society. However, a report on agriculture notes that US soil is seeing high soil degradation and a drop in soil fertility.
To make up for this loss, farmers use fertilizers containing nitrogen and phosphorus to continue growing essential crops. Not only does this cost additional funding, but this has also contributed to a vicious cycle of unhealthy outcomes for the environment such as the release of greenhouse gases and toxic farm run-offs. Rather than letting the problem proliferate further, farmers can engage in soil conservation techniques to boost soil fertility in the long run, helping businesses save money while maintaining productivity.
Given the long-term benefits of soil conservation, large corporations and sustainability experts have been influenced to implement more sustainable practices. Case in point, there is a rising demand for graduates coming out of universities with sustainability degrees who have been trained in soil conservation, as they can help companies evaluate their lands and develop processes to maintain natural resources.
Even as individuals, you can take part in soil conservation starting from your garden or yard. Listed below are some ways can practice soil conservation in the comfort of your own home.
Grow your own organic garden
While it may seem counterintuitive to protect the soil through gardening, having an organic farm can ensure balance in your local ecosystem. As recommended in our post on spring gardening, following the four-square method each year can be a great way to facilitate crop rotation and keep your soil healthy. This can help you rotate crops that rely heavily on different nutrients, ensuring the soil doesn’t become too imbalanced or depleted.
Furthermore, you can supplement your garden with natural fertilizers that use organic matter from plants or animals, such as compost or manure. Adding these natural fertilizers to your soil can give it a boost of nutrients and microorganisms, sustaining its quality and health.
Reduce impervious surfaces and soil erosion
Concrete driveways and patios are examples of impervious surfaces that allow water to flow freely over them. This can be especially problematic during heavy rainstorms, where a torrent of water can cause soil erosion. To compromise, you can use paving stones instead of pure concrete for your pathways, which allow water to seep through the gaps and be absorbed by the soil.
In other areas of your yard or garden, you can plant more trees and shrubs to keep the soil in place. If you’re short on time but need to cover some bald spots that don’t have vegetation on them, you can also opt to use mulch to cover the surface of your soil.
Maintain soil pH
Even if you’re not actively gardening, having the correct soil pH is an essential part of keeping soil healthy. The recommended soil pH is usually between 6.0 to 7.0, which is key for the release of essential soil nutrients needed by existing plants. There are plenty of commercially available soil testers that allow you to check pH levels and sometimes other beneficial information on your soil. Other good practices you can accomplish are:
Applying lime on the soil surface – High-efficacy lime can help manage surface soil acidity.
Tillage – Mixing acidic topsoil with alkaline subsoil as little as once every 10 years can manage overall pH levels.
Prescriptive tillage – Similar to tillage, you can till one part of a field once a year and move on to the next until the whole yard is complete.
Through these home practices, you can contribute to local soil conservation. Not only do you benefit from a picturesque yard or garden, but you also support the growth of a fertile, healthy environment.
Post by Jessica Brady