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4.4 Soil Conservation: Erosion Control

D. De Wrachien and G. Chisci In most cases a combination of measures is needed to reduce the effects of the processes that cause erosion and to stimulate land use so that the soil is kept permanently productive. However, it must be emphasized that none of these methods has universal application. In selecting from possible measures, the following issues must be considered [1]:

• Any measure must be suitable for the intended land use and cropping systems.

• The objectives must be relate to rainfall and soil. In high-rainfall areas, a common goal is to lead unavoidable runoff safely off the land using drains and ditches. In semiarid regions the objective is that of slowing down the runoff to nonscouring velocities to encourage infiltration or deposition of silt.

• The inputs, especially of labor, must be affordable and the benefits must be sufficient to justify the inputs.

Anyway, the final choice, among possible conservation procedures, should depend on the social and economic conditions of those involved.

There are so many different measures used in erosion control that some form of grouping is needed to describe them. Mechanical methods encompass all techniques that involve earthmoving, such as digging drains, building banks, and leveling sloping land. Anything else, nowadays, is lumped under agrobiological measures. This is appropriate for large mechanized farms where machines are used to do the earthmoving and this is followed up with improved farming methods. But the division does not suit the concept of erosion control through better land husbandry by means of mechanical protection. Moreover, it becomes artificial when it deals with progressive terracing using grass strips or live hedges. Anyway, for want of better terms, the above-mentioned approach is kept is this section. Measures special for wind erosion control are descibed in Section 4.4.3 of this chapter.

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