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close this bookSoil Conservation Techniques for Hillside Farms (Peace Corps, 1986, 96 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentTraditional Honduran hill side farming techniques and resulting problems
close this folderSoil conservation strategies
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View the documentStrategies aimed at minimizing soil disturbance
close this folderStrategies in cultivation systems characterized by extensive soil disturbance
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentCrop rotation
View the documentContour barriers (live, dead and mixed barriers)
View the documentContour ditches (drainage and infiltration ditches)
View the documentTerraces (individual, discontinuous narrow, and continuous bench terraces)
View the documentWaterways from draining excess water for fields
View the documentGully prevention and control
View the documentSteps to follow in designing a conservation plan
close this folderSoil fertility and its maintenance
View the documentIntroduction to soil fertility
View the documentChemical fertilizers
close this folderOrganic fertilizers
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View the documentManures and crop residues
View the documentGreen manure crops
View the documentComposting
View the documentComposting with earthworms
close this folderExtension methodology
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentTimetable of events associated with a ''typical'' two year peace corps volunteer service.
View the documentGuidelines for evaluating extension work
View the documentExtension techniques
View the documentWorking with groups
close this folderConclusion
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View the documentSuggested references
View the documentEnglish - Spanish vocabulary list
View the documentDichotomous key to the selection of soil conservation practices
View the documentResults of the Santa Cruz extension project: farm budgets and the profitability of modern agricultural techniques.
View the documentTwo simple levels for use in surveying contour lines
View the documentSome demonstrations useful in promoting new techniques

Strategies aimed at minimizing soil disturbance

1. Protecting Native Vegetation

Ideally, the environmental damages associated with agricultural activities could be avoided by protecting the native vegetation, which keeps the problem from arising. This method, however, ignores man's dependence on traditional agricultural techniques to support himself and is difficult to promote, especially as human populations increase. This strategy does however, provide other valuable benefits such as maintaining a clean, reliable supply of drinking water, and reserves for native fauna and flora, which also become increasingly important as the human population increases.

2. Replanting Native Vegetation

In view or the benefits of native vegetation, replanting of previously cleared land can be an effective method for protecting land, water supplies, and native wildlife. (Fig. 5)

Reforestation (or replanting of grasses or shrubs, depending on natural vegetation type) can be carried out using native species or introduced species adapted to the local conditions, having some desirable characteristic (fast growth rate, the ability to fix nitrogen, forage or wood value, etc ), and which will facilitate the return of a protective vegetative canopy A description of some species is given in Firewood Crops Shrub and Tree Species for Energy Production (N.A.S. ,

Fig. 5. Reforestation

3. Perennial Crop Cultivation Systems

Another technique which results in a minimized soil disturbance is the planting of perennial crops, such as fruit trees or pasture grasses, rather than annual crops such as corn or beans. In this manner, after the initial disruptive clearing and planting of the land a permanent ground cover is attained and the environmental damages associated with the raindrop impact are lessened. (Fig. 6).

Fig. 6. Perennial Crops - Fruit trees and pasture grasses

4. Use of Ground Cover while Cultivating Annual Crops

There are techniques for maintaining a protective ground cover even while cultivating annual crops. These include minimum tillage and mulching systems. In minimum tillage systems, only the narrow row where the seeds are planted is tilled and the remaining ground surface is left intact. Because these intact areas are more compacted and have a law weed covering, they are more erosion resistant.(Fig. 7) Mulching is the use of dead material or the planting of a ground cover which results in a covering of the bare soil areas in a field. As in the other techniques, the covered soil is less susceptible to erosion than bare soil. In the section on "Green Manure Crops" some suggestions for using legume cover crops are presented.

Fig. 7. Minimum tillage cultivation system