In recent years, people have become concerned about conserving natural resources. Conservation is the wise use of natural resources so that they will not be used up too soon or used in a way that will permanently damage the environment.
Taking care of soil is called soil conservation. It is important to use soil wisely. Good soil has the proper balance of humus, water, and minerals. The right amount of air is also needed. Soil conservation requires planning. It is important to plan how land can be used best. Some areas of land are good for farming because the soil is very fertile. Plants grow well with proper soil management. Land with forests or lakes may be good for a park or a home for wildlife. Where houses and schools should be built? What is the best for grazing animals? Deciding how to best use land and its natural resources is called land use planning.
People’s activities have been the major cause of soil pollution. The dumping of garbage and solid wastes from houses, businesses, and industries remove important nutrients from the soil and make it unfit for planting. Moreover the dumping of wastes adds to water and air pollution.
Environmental laws now regulated but do not completely stop the dumping of wastes. Oftentimes these wastes end up in landfills. A landfill is an area in which layers of wastes are buried between layers of soil. As more landfills close, more trash is dumped in other areas. This means that millions of kilograms of poisonous materials from wastes accumulate in the environment each year.
Soil is an important resource that must be conserved. One effect of human activity is the soil erosion. Soil erosion is the wearing away of soil by wind and water. Erosion can be prevented by strip cropping and contour plowing. The grooves of plowed land catch running water and allow it to seep slowly into the land. This prevents the water from washing soil downhill.
Farmers can also conserve soil by preventing erosion by wind. One way is to keep the land covered with plants. Plant roots hold the soil in place during strong winds. Crop rotation can be practiced to return to the soil. For example, corn crops remove large amounts of nitrogen compounds from the soil. The roots of bean plants, however, contain nitrogen fixing bacteria that add nitrogen compounds to the soil. By rotating corn crops with bean crops, a farmer can reduce the loss of nitrogen from the soil.
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