Soil Conservation


Soil Conservation includes all measures that help in protecting the soil from erosion and exhaustion

  • It has been estimated that two-thirds of our arable land needs conservation measures
  • Hence, the urgent need to conserve soil for sake of prosperity of Indian masses


The following methods are generally adopted for conserving soil:

  1. Afforestation
    • Indiscriminate felling of trees should be stopped and efforts should be made to plant more trees
    • Efforts to increase forest cover to 33% of total land should be made; with the proportion being 20% for plains and 60% for hilly/mountainous regions
  2. Checking overgrazing
    • Overgrazing of forests and grass lands should be properly checked
    • Separate grazing grounds should be earmarked
  3. Changing Agricultural practices
    • Some of the changes suggested in this perspective are:
      • Crop rotation
        • When same crop is grown year after year, it takes away certain same nutrients away from soil, making it infertile
        • Hence, different crops have to be grown, as different crops take up different nutrients through out the year
        • Growing leguminous plants helps in fixing nitrogen to the soil
      • Strip cropping
        • When crops are cultivated in alternate strips, parallel to once another; they can be harvested at various intervals
        • This ensures that the land is not left fallow at any interval, thereby leaving it less prone to erosion
      • No-till farming
        • No-till farminginvolves planting seeds into the residue of the previous crop, with no tillage between harvests. No till leaves 60 to 70 percent of a field covered with crop residue.
      • Contour ploughing
        • If ploughing is done at right angles to the hill slope, following natural contours of the hill, the ridges and furrows break the flow of water down the hill
        • This enables plants to absorb more moisture and reduce erosion
      • Checking shifting cultivation
        • This involves persuading tribal people to switch over to settled agriculture
        • This can be done by making arrangements for tribal people by giving them land and agricultural equipment
      • Terrace farming
        • Terracing is the practice of creating nearly level areas in a hillside area.
        • The terraces form a series of steps each at a higher level than the previous
        • Terraces are protected from erosion by other soil barriers
      • Windbreaks
        • Windbreaks are sufficiently dense rows of trees at the windward exposure of an agricultural field subject to wind erosion.
        • Evergreen species provide year-round protection
  1. Salinity Management
    • Use ofHumic acids may prevent excess salination, especially given excessive irrigation.
    • Humic acids can fix both anionsand cations and eliminate them from root zones
    • Planting species that can tolerate saline conditions can be used to lower water tables and thus reduce the rate of capillary and evaporative enrichment of surface salts. Salt-tolerant plants includesaltbush, a plant found in much of North America and in the Mediterranean regions of Europe
  2. Use of Natural Fertilizers
    • Excessive use of chemical fertilizers can result in chemical run off and groundwater contamination
    • Natural fertilizer are a better alternative, as they replenish the soil with essential nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium; while offering the added benefit of providing the soil with organic matter.
    • Natural fertilizers include livestock manure, mulch, municipal sludge, and legume plants such as alfalfa or clover.

Measures/Schemes for Soil Conservation in India

  • Watershed Development Project in Shifting Cultivation Areas (WDPSCA)
    • This was implemented from 1955 onwards to Protect hill slopes of Jhum areas through soil and water conservation measures on a watershed basis
  • NABARD Loan- Soil & Water Conservation Scheme under RIDF(2001 onwards)
    • The scheme envisages to promote sustainable development through conservation and management of soil and water.
  • Rashtriya Krishi Vigyan Yojana (RKVY)
    • The thrust area is to protect the loss of topsoil, improving soil fertility, enhancing crop production, land and water productivity of watershed areas comprising of wastelands, river valleys and the eco-system as a whole
  • Soil Health Card Schemes
    • The scheme aims at promoting soil test based and balanced use of fertilisers to enable farmers to realise higher yields at lower cost.
    • Also the objective is to aware growers about the appropriate amount of nutrients for the concerned crop depending on the quality of soil.