Soil Conservation for Sustainable Agriculture

Soil Conservation for Sustainable Agriculture
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Soil Conservation for Sustainable Agriculture

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Publisher: Agrobios Publications
ISBN: 9788177541045
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PREFACE
such an extent by erosion that not enough productive soil is left for the' present population. In Puerto Rico, portions of the Southern Piedmont, and the Rio Grande V lley for example, erosion already has crowded many people off the land and brought others to the level of precarious subsistence farming. Some of this land can be stabilized, and some severely impoverished areas can be improved, but many land users must seek better soil elsewhere if they are to remain in the business of farming or . ranching. Today the nation has an abundance of land, but not enough good land. Probaby, if there had not been so much good land in the beginning, there would not have developed the early idea that the productive soil of America was limitless and inexhaustible. This erroneous appraisal of the land resource, passed along as a tradition, accounts for much of our costly steep-land tillage, overgrazing, and failure to defend vulnerable soil from the ravage of erosion. The present plight of the land brings to mind the extremes to which other countries with small areas of arable soil must go in order to make maximum use of every available acre. In southern France, for example, certain poor soils are utilized under a rotation of fish culture with grain production. In Italy, under the program of the Bonifica Integrale, many areas of severely gullied steep slopes are being smoothed down with explosives in order to reclaim them for agricultural use. Always, where populations have increased and agricultural lands have been exploited and wasted, people have looked beyond their borders for additional land. This urge has brought about conquests, wars, and migrations to new lands. Permanent agriculture has been achieved in only a few regions, for the most part of relatively small size, throughout the world. Some parts of the world, blessed with gentle rains, favorable soil, moderate slopes, native skills, and inherent love for the soil, have been held securely. Elsewhere-in Peru, Guatemala, Mexico, the Philippine Islands, parts of Europe, and China-people of primitive culture in ancient civilizations, bench-terraced and, in some instances, irrigated steeply sloping land. The investment of human labor in such enterprises reached fabulous proportions about 18,000 or more an acre, on the basis of present costs for human labor, went into the walled terraces and irrigation works of the Incas in the Andes Mountains. A permanent agriculture, then, is possible, even where the land is highly vulnerable to erosion, when people are willing to pay the price of protecting it. Where the price has not been paid, civilizations have disintegrated and disappeared. If .necessary for survival, the American people undoubtedly would bench-terrace all their tilled land, as did the Incas, but it would be done at an undreamed of cost. Fortunately, American agriculture is now in a stage where heavy costs may be avoided by consistently working with, rather than against, natural forces, and by
PREFACE
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provident action based on a thorough diagnosis of the present problems of land use. All our experience has demonstrated that erosion can be controlled in