|Environmental Benefits of Organic Agriculture|
Soil conservation is set of management strategies for prevention of soil being eroded from the earth’s surface or becoming chemically altered by overuse, salinization, acidification, or other chemical soil contamination. The principal approaches these strategies take are:
* choice of vegetative cover
* erosion prevention
* salinity management
* acidity control
* encouraging health of beneficial soil organisms
* prevention and remediation of soil contamination
other ways are
* no till farming
* contour plowing
* wind rows
* crop rotation
* the use of natural and man-made fertilizer
* resting the land
Many scientific disciplines are involved in these pursuits, including agronomy, hydrology, soil science, meteorology, microbiology, and environmental chemistry.
Decisions regarding appropriate crop rotation, cover crops, and planted windbreaks are central to the ability of surface soils to retain their integrity, both with respect to erosive forces and chemical change from nutrient depletion. Crop rotation is simply the conventional alternation of crops on a given field, so that nutrient depletion is avoided from repetitive chemical uptake/deposition of single crop growth.
Cover crops serve the function of protecting the soil from erosion, weed establishment or excess evapotranspiration; however, they may also serve vital soil chemistry functions. For example, legumes can be ploughed under to augment soil nitrates, and other plants have the ability to metabolize soil contaminants or alter adverse pH. The cover crop Mucuna pruriens (velvet bean) has been used in Nigeria to increase phosphorus availability after application of rock phosphate. Some of these same precepts are applicable to urban landscaping, especially with respect to ground-cover selection for erosion control and weed suppression.
Windbreaks are created by planting sufficiently dense rows or stands of trees at the windward exposure of an agricultural field subject to wind erosion. Evergreen species are preferred to achieve year-round protection; however, as long as foliage is present in the seasons of bare soil surfaces, the effect of deciduous trees may also be adequate. Trees, shrubs and groundcovers are also effective perimeter treatment for soil erosion prevention, by insuring any surface flows are impeded. A special form of this perimeter or inter-row treatment is the use of a “grassway” that both channels and dissipates runoff through surface friction, impeding surface runoff, and encouraging infiltration of the slowed surface water.
Back to the Arguments for Organic page
IFOAM is constantly updating the information on this website. Comments or suggestions contact the Platform Coordinator
Back to the Arguments for Organic Page
Back to the Growing Organic page
|IFOAM - International Federation of Organic Agriculture | firstname.lastname@example.org|