Soil conditions are currently experiencing problems. And I’m not referring to your neighbor’s yellowed grass! Soil degradation involves soil depletion in water and minerals. Have you ever heard of erosion or desertification? These are the possible consequences of soil degradation.
The soil is mainly used in the agricultural sector. Luckily, the techniques in agriculture have changed a lot. It was time because the old practices of intensive agriculture have destroyed the soil for decades! Indeed, many farmers exploited soils until their productivity began to decline. Obviously, all minerals and soil water were drained. Nevertheless, as productivity declined (usually after 5-6 years of intensive farming), farmers continued by reproducing the same destructive pattern of other lands. They abandoned completely siphoned fields, fields that took decades to regenerate to drain new ones.
Today, fortunately, Science has led to the development of new efficient and eco- responsible practices to protect soil. Here are the means proposed:
- The green manure (legume or grass-legume mixture) improve soil fertility and protect it from erosion and frost;
- The natural windbreaks (rows of trees and / or shrubs) protect the soil from erosion by slowing the wind speed;
- The crop rotation (succession of different cultures) in the same field improves the fertility of the soil, reduces the use of pesticides and prevents erosion and the cycle of diseases;
- The riparian zones (grasses and shrubs that separate streams of fields) prevent erosion of riverbanks , help keep the minerals and protect waterways from contamination;
- The technique of direct seeding and reduced labor (less aggressive seeding of the soil) protects the soil from erosion and promotes infiltration.
There are several ways to protect soil in agriculture. For more information, please consult Agri-Réseau’s Good Agri- Environmental Practices guide. There are also the MAPAQ (Quebec Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food) and Agri-Réseau sites that provide relevant information and solutions to farmers. Do not hesitate to visit their website! The only problem with the new agricultural practices is that it is not enough to develop them, it is also necessary that the people of the middle apply them! So, for sustainable agriculture, talk about it!