What Are Innovative Ways for Farmers to Stop Soil Erosion?

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Farmers can help control erosion by practicing no-till farming, using terrace farming or by contour farming. Another method that works well in windy areas is strip farming. All these methods try and halt the loss of topsoil due to water and/or wind erosion.

Once the growing season is over, what remains is usually plowed back into the soil. No-till farming leaves the remaining plants intact. The practice keeps the soil in place even if the fields are exposed to wind and water. The leftover plants are usually partially decomposed when they are plowed into the soil before spring planting, increasing the mineral content.

Terrace farming involves creating a series of sod "step platforms" for the crops. In certain topographies, the steps must have a frame, but for farmers with slightly sloping fields, reshaping the soil usually works. Terraces slow the movement of water going downhill, which reduces the amount of soil carried away.

Contour farming is similar to terrace farming. Instead of plowing in straight rows up and down hilly slopes, the crops are planted to match the contour of the fields. Rows are curved to accommodate the slopes, effectively slowing the water flow.

Strip farming is practiced in high-wind areas. Crops are planted in strips, with every other strip allowed to go fallow. The strips are alternated to maximize the nutrients in the soil. Grain seeds, such as rye, are commonly used. The strips work by reducing the surface wind speed, inhibiting erosion.