Thursday, July 18, 2024
General Agriculture

Systems of Soil Conservation and Improvement

Soil conservation also known as conservation of the soil is all about preserving or protecting the soil‟s fertility for good productivity. It as well has to do with the wise use of the soil with the intention of not allowing it to get deplenished of its nutrients, while using it for crop production.

To allow permanent farming activities on a farm with good yields, you have to improve the soil so that it can produce to meet up with its potentials.

Conservation and improvement of the soil for steady and high yields can be achieved in different ways such as the use of manure, organic farming, mixed cropping, crop rotation and use of mineral fertilizer (Ekohwo, 2015.

For a farmer who operates a mixed farming system, that is where crops are animals are kept in the same farm, it could also be the use of draft animals to do work in the farm, such farmer would be able to produce dung which is the most important manure that could be used to improve soil fertility.

This dung is free of charge because it is produced by his draft animals and it replenishes the soil nutrient of the soil naturally without much are do. When applied sufficiently on the farm, dung will improve the soil and increase the yields of the crops. The crops will produce more food for man and animals.

How to Produce Cowdung

To produce cowdung, it is necessary to keep the animals in a cowshed during the night to collect faeces and urine. Keeping the animals in a cowshed will help the farmer to keep safe or gather the dung from animals that would have been lost if they were allowed to roam around.

Ekohwo (2015) noted that the quantity of produced or generated cowdung depends mainly on:

The size of your cattle;

The feeding of your cattle;

The amount of litter in your cowshed.

From the fore going, it is obvious that a larger animal produces more dung than a smaller one, a well-fed animal produces more dung than a poorly fed one and allow enough grazing time during the day and add 10 kg of fresh grass every day, when you put your oxen into the cowshed.

Making of cowdung starts with:

Putting the litter (material used as bedding for animals) and urine into the cowshed and;

Allow it to get mixed with the dung,

Allow it to rot and then produces manure.

Dry litter must be added every day. This is because litter provides dry bedding for your animals and increases the amount of manure you produce.

Advantages of the use of cowdung as a source of manure helps the farmer to save a lot of money that would otherwise have been used to procure fertilizer.

In addition, it will improve the yields of the crops.

Before the cowdung can be brought to the farm, it must be rotten.

How to Produce Compost Manure

Compost is prepared from all organic waste materials (including kitchen waste, weeds, grass, crop residues, etc.) and it can be used to improve crop yields. Compost can be used as organic fertilizer on the farm and especially in the garden.

The process of making compost manure includes;

Choose a cool place for the establishment of your compost heap.

Peg a square with 4 poles at a distance of 2-3 metres. OR Dig a pit into which the waste materials would be thrown into.

Throw all available organic waste materials on the ground within the four poles.

When the layer of organic matter is about one hand span high, you spread a thin layer of humus soil or manure.

You continue to put organic matter (1 handspan) and manure (thin layer) until your compost heap is about 1 metre high.

Caution must be taken to ensure that;

The compost is kept moist throughout.

For proper mix of the compost, the heap can be turned from one heap, A into B, C and D. that is four heaps.

In addition, adding well rotten compost to manure and organic wastes speeds up the rotting process.

Compost must be kept moist even in the dry season, you have to water your compost and protect it against the sun.

This can be done by covering your compost heap with leaves or grass and leave it for some time to rot before applying to the field. After we are sure that rottening has taken place, the heap can then be turned into another heap or pit.

For complete rotting, you have to turn your compost after some time (4-6 weeks after complete establishment).

Mix the organic matter and put the outer layers inside and the inner layers of the compost outside. Especially when you use your compost for gardening, it needs complete rotting.

How to produce Green Manure

Green manure is manure from special manure plants or crop residues.

Many Green Manure Plants do not produce direct food, but they improve the soil. Green manure has been proved to be a good source of soil fertility management. This has been demonstrated from improved yield in crops planted on soils just after applying green manure.

Some popular green manure plants are; Tephrosia, Sesbania, Crotalaria, Leucaena, Pidgeon Pea, Calapagonium, Centrosema, etc.

How to bury Organic Matter

To avoid loss and improve the decomposition of organic matter from plant drop, we have to mix the organic matter with the soil.

The oxen farmer is able to achieve this purpose by;

* Using the cart (animal or man drawn implement), to transport the manure to the farm.

* The roller cutter which could be used by the farmer to clear and perhaps chop plant residues into small easily decomposed parts; and

* The ridger for this exercise. He uses the ridger to bury the organic matter into the soil

The buried organic matter gives humus to the soil. We call this organic farming. It improves your soil and the following crop will produce a lot of food.

Mixed Cropping

Mixed cropping is the planting of two or more crops on the same field or piece of land at the same time. To keep the soil in balance of nutrients, we are required to combine (mix) crops that are exhaustive and require different nutrients (which make the soil poor) and those that have the capability to replace or replenish the soil of nutrients (with crops which improve the soil).

Some of the crops that make the soil poor are: maize, rice, wheat, yam, cassava, cocoyam, potatoes, etc. On the contrary, those crops that are capable of improving the soil nutrients include legumes like: ground nuts, beans, soya beans, peas, etc.

Advantages of Mixed Cropping System

Mixed cropping system helps in the conservation of soil fertility.

Since the crops used in mixed cropping system are different, their root systems also differ and as such will require different layers of the soil better, that means: they use the available water and nutrients better.

Mixed crops with different preferences for nutrients, use the different minerals available in the soil better.

Mixed cropping results in a higher plant population per unit area and increases yields.

The system helps in the control of soil erosion and suppresses weed growth.

Mixed cropping system reduces the risk of pests and diseases infestation.

Mixed cropping diversifies the food supply since different types and quality of crops are produced and through this different quality food to meet the family diet.

Mixed cropping reduces the risk of complete crop failure. If one crop fails, the other crops can still produce enough food for the farmer family.

Upland and Lowland

Upland and lowland are portions of plain that are conditionally categorized by their elevation above the sea level.

 Soil Conservation

Lowlands are usually not higher than 200m (660 ft), while uplands are somewhere around 200m (660 ft) to 500 m (1,600 ft) above sea level. And sea level is a land or an area of land lying above the level where water flows or where flooding occurs (Upland and lowland – Wikipedia)

Characteristics of Upland and Lowland Habitat

Upland habitat according to Upland and lowland Wikipedia has the following characteristics;

Upland habitats are cold because they experience lower temperatures, high rainfall and are windy

The habitat is clear.

The habitat is rocky.

The rivers are fast-flowing in mountainous areas.

Read Also : Effects of Altitude and Soil Condition on Animal Production

Upland areas are high above sea level.

They are often (but not always) mountainous, and;

They usually consist of igneous rocks.

The characteristics of Lowland habitat according to Upland and lowland Wikipedia are;

Lowland habitats are warm.

They have slow-flowing rivers.

The habitat is found in relatively flat lowland areas,

The water found in lowland areas are frequently coloured by sediment and organic matter.

Importance of Uplands

Upland vegetation ecosystems are important both to man and the system he leaves in. These woodland, grassland, and shrubland habitats offer vital ecosystem services. In specific terms,

138 Upland and lowland Wikipedia, stated that upland areas help in;

They help conserve soil.

They also help to store carbon.

The habitat as well helps to ensure proper cycling of nutrients

Upland habitat helps to recycle energy, and;

Water is also conserved through this habitat.

They also provide a variety of wildlife habitat.

The Problems of Upland Habitat

Wikipedia of Upland and lowland as well stated that the problems of upland land farming have resulted in the following;

Degradation of the soil since it is continually being used and poorly cultivated for agricultural purposes

It has also resulted to world-wide soil erosion.

Upland habitat has led to the contributions of tropical land-use change to global climatic warming.

Upland habitat has also been blamed or decried for the rapid rates of land clearance and deforestation in a number of cases or situations.

In some cases, the habitat has presented a picture of looming environmental disaster, which has spelt doom for the people.

Poor use of the soil has led to consequent losses of productivity

Challenges faced by Upland Agriculture

Several challenges have been faced by the rapidly growing populations. Upland and lowland Wikipedia pointed out some of the challenges to include;

The deforestation of forest: Upland agriculture has led to the deforestation of the forest and this has brought about reduction in forest and its resources for agricultural expansion.

Establishment of roads: Roads are actually constructed to create access for people. Due to increasing population and urbanization, there is an increase in the construction of roads to provide access for farmers and settlers, both to the logged-over land itself and to distant markets.

Demands for cash to meet domestic needs: The demand for cash by the farmer to meet domestic needs such as paying for consumer goods, children’s education, and for agricultural inputs which have become a necessity in the face of continuing declines in yields, has made it impossible for the farmer not to have enough cash to meet up with challenges in cultivation of crops.

The unsafe use ofpesticides: The unsafe use of pesticides (many of which are banned elsewhere in the world), often used at rates well above those recommended has contributed to the degradation or collapse of the forest and soil fertility loss.

Poor topography of the soil: Most of our lands are either hilly, slopy or exist as valley. Such topography are described as poor and not too good for upland agriculture. Here, they give rise to rapid loss of topsoil and accompanying rapid declines in soil fertility.

Creation of erosion menace: The creation of erosion has led to the degradation of land and this make such land unfit for agricultural purpose.

In suumary, soil conservation or conservation of the soil involves protecting the soil’s fertility for good productivity. It involves the wise use of the soil so that it will continue to meet with its potential in terms of productivity.

Soil’s conservation can be achieved through application of organic manure, green manure, practice of mixed cropping and crop rotation systems as well as application of mineral fertilizer. The use of the systems mentioned above have their advantages which actually supersedes their disadvantages.

In where upland and lowland are concerned, lowlands are usually not higher than 200m (660 ft), while uplands are somewhere around 200m (660 ft) to 500 m (1,600 ft) above sea level.

Upland has much importance such as its ability to conserve the soil, recycling of nutrients, and water conservation. Continuous use of upland habitat has led to soil degradation, soil erosion and losses of productivity.

This article explained the systems of soil conservation and improvement. It looks into how the soil fertility can be conserved for improved productivity.

In achieving this, some of the methods that can help in improving the soil like the use of organic manure, green manure, crop rotation, etc. were taken into consideration. The study also differentiated (using their characteristics) upland from lowland.

Upland was seen as somewhere around 200m (660 ft) to 500 m (1,600 ft) above sea level, while lowlands are usually not higher than 200m (660 ft). The study as well treated some of the importance, problems and challenges of upland habitat.

Read Also : Palm Fruit: Health Benefits, Facts and Recipes


Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with several years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education - PhD Student in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Policy... Visit My Websites On: 1. - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and WealthInWastes TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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