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Indian Geography / Indian Soils

Soil Erosion and Degradation

    The destruction of soil cover can be described as soil erosion. Soil degradation is nothing but decline in soil fertility. Soil conservation is a methodology that is followed for maintaining soil fertility, prevent soil erosion and to ameliorate the degraded conditions of the soil.

    Soil Erosion

    • Soil erosion happens mainly due to streams and rivers and in some cases it is due to winds also. The main source of erosion in India is running water.

    • The other reason for soil erosion is Deforestation. Lots of forest lands were acquired for agriculture and the agricultural crops that replace the forest trees, cannot hold onto the soil tightly and worsen the soil erosion, which in turn loses its fertility. As lands lose fertility, more forests are being cut down for agriculture.

    • Overgrazing is one more reason for soil erosion. Overgrazing cuts down the growth of the plants and the ability of water to permeate, which in turn damages the soil microbes and causes erosion of the soil.

    • Gullies and Ravines are mainly found in Chambal-Yamuna basin in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Soil covered with pebbles and stones are found in Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Karnataka and Rayalaseema area of Andhra Pradesh.

    Soil Degradation

    • Contamination of soils because of excessive use of chemicals results in Toxicity, which in turn causes soil degradation.

    • Excessive water logging causes induced salinity, which in turn reduces soil fertility. In the lands of Punjab, Haryana, western Rajasthan and Coastal plains, there is induced salinity.

    • Due to intensive cultivation, there is nutrient exhaustion. More than 50% of Indian soils are facing Nitrogen deficiency, followed by Potassium and Phosphorus.

    Conservation of Soil

    • Conservation of soil can be done by Contouring, Terracing, Afforestation in catchment areas of river basins and Introduction of Watershed management programs.

    • Watershed Management techniques include (i) Regulation of the surface runoff by making them to move slowly, (ii) Inter connection of streams, (iii) Drain the streams towards a common storage point within the watershed and (iv) Making optimal use of rainwater by Contour Bunding, Construction of series of check dams, Making Diversion channels, Constructing Percolation pits and Spread dams.

    • Watershed management is crucial in arid and drought prone areas. Examples of Watershed projects are Alwar Watershed of Rajasthan, Ralegan Siddhi Watershed of Maharashtra, Sukhomajri Watershed of Haryana, Jhabua Watershed of Madhya Pradesh, etc.