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Soil and Water Conservation – Goals and Types

Aug 25, 2022
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Water 

The majority of the Earth’s surface is covered with water and is essential to life on our planet. Only 3% of the world’s water is freshwater, with slightly more than two-thirds of that frozen in glaciers and polar ice caps. Surface water, under river flow, groundwater, and frozen water are all-natural freshwater sources. Water is a renewable resource that is used in all aspects of life. Water is used by plants to absorb minerals and nutrients. Water is also used by humans for agricultural, industrial, household, and recreational purposes. Drinking water is derived from groundwater, which is in low supply and depleting day by day. 

 Distribution of water and its uses

Scarcity of water 

While the term “water stress” is new, it refers to the difficulties in getting freshwater sources over time, which can lead to additional depletion and deterioration of current water supplies. Increased freshwater usage and depletion of available freshwater supplies are two converging factors that generate water scarcity. Physical (absolute) water scarcity and economic water scarcity can both lead to water shortages. When natural water supplies are insufficient to meet a region’s demand, physical water scarcity develops, while economic water scarcity occurs when adequate water resources are mismanaged. 

Conservation of Water 

Water conservation is the practice of using water efficiently in order to reduce unnecessary water consumption. It refers to the development, management, and preservation of groundwater and surface water resources, as well as pollution prevention. 

Goals of Water Conservation  

Sustainability  

The depletion of fresh water from an ecosystem should not exceed its natural replenishment rate to maintain availability for future generations.  

Energy Conservation  

Water pumping, delivery, and wastewater treatment facilities all use a lot of energy. Water management consumes more than 15% of total electricity usage in various parts of the world.  

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Habitat Conservation  

Minimizing human water use aids in preserving freshwater habitats for local wildlife and migrating waterfowl and reducing the need to construct new dams and other water diversion infrastructure. 

Methods of Conservation of Water 

Water conservation methods include reducing water consumption, increasing efficiency, and reducing pollution at the household, industrial, and government levels. Improved technology, processes, and policy can all be used to conserve water and avoid issues such as water scarcity. 

Rainwater Harvesting 

Rainwater harvesting is augmenting natural rainwater filtration into underground formations with artificial methods. Percolation naturally recharges groundwater resources. However, due to indiscriminate development and rapid urbanization, the exposed surface for soil has decreased, resulting in a decrease in rainwater. 

Rooftop Rainwater Harvesting 

Rooftop Rainwater Harvesting

 It is a rainwater collection system that captures rainwater as it falls. The roof becomes the catchment in rooftop harvesting, and rainwater is collected from the house/roof of the building. It can be kept in a tank or diverted to a system for artificial recharging. This method is less expensive, very successful, and, if correctly done, can help augment the area’s groundwater level. 

  • Catchment Area 

The catchment of a rainwater collecting system is the surface that collects rainfall directly. It could be a terrace, a courtyard, or paved or unpaved open space. 

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  • Transportation 

Water collected at the catchment area should be transported using UV resistant pipes of the required capacity to the storage. 

  • First Flush

The first flush is a device used to flush out the water from the first shower. The first rain shower must be flushed to avoid contaminating storable/rechargeable water with pollutants from the atmosphere and the catchment roof. 

  • Filter 

Filters effectively remove turbidity, color, and microbes from water. Water should pass through filters after the first flushing of rainfall. Filters come in various shapes and sizes, but their primary purpose is to purify water. 

Examples for filters-sand gravel, charcoal, sponge, PVC-Pipe. 

Surface Runoff Harvesting 

Surface Runoff Harvesting 

Surface runoff rainwater harvesting is a way of collecting rainwater that flows along the ground during rains and collects it in a tank beneath the ground for irrigation and other uses. Surface runoff is also known as Overland Flow. It is essential to incorporate efficient and effective water conservation methods, such as reducing evaporation, when storing rainwater. Technology is simple to implement and extremely profitable when used correctly. The primary goal of surface runoff rainwater harvesting is to meet the ever-increasing demand for water while also reducing water pollution, soil erosion, and road flooding. 

Grey water recycling 

Greywater Recycling

‘Greywater’ also known as Graywater or Sullage refers to all wastewater generated in buildings from streams without fecal contamination – i.e., all streams except for the wastewater from toilets. Greywater recycling, then, refers to the treatment of wastewater from appliances such as showers, baths and sinks, to be re-used and fed back into a property for non-potable purposes such as flushing toilets and irrigation. 

Reusing wastewater is an important aspect of long-term water resource management. Greywater can be a valuable alternative water source, particularly in desert and tourist areas, where high water demand is common during the dry season. 

The following are some of the potential environmental benefits of greywater recycling: 

  • Reduced extraction of fresh water from rivers and aquifers, 
  • Septic tanks and water treatment plants have a lower environmental impact. 
  • Reduced energy consumption and chemical pollution caused by water treatment 
  • Groundwater replenishment and nutrient recovery 

Other ways to conserve water 

Ways to conserve water 

Soil Conservation 

Soil 

Soil and its importance 
  1. Recycling system for nutrients and organic waste
  2. Medium for plant
  3. Modifier of the atmosphere
  4. Habitat for soil organisms
  5. Engineering medium

Soil (The skin of Our Earth) perform a variety of important functions in both natural and man-made ecosystems: they serve as a growing medium for various plants; they absorb and emit gases (such as carbon dioxide, methane, and water vapor) and dust, thereby altering the atmosphere; they provide a habitat for soil-dwelling organisms; they absorb, retain, release, and alter the majority of water inland systems; and they recycle nutrients, including carbon, so that living things can use them over an extended period. 

Why conserve Soil? 

Soil is formed as a result of weathering and is eroded as a result of natural processes. This type of erosion occurs naturally, but anthropogenic activities have increased the rate of erosion to 40-50 times the natural rate. Human activities such as intensive agriculture, deforestation, infrastructure development, urbanization, and climate change are examples of such activities. As a result, it is crucial to save and conserve the soil. 

Conservation of Soil 

Soil conservation entails limiting top-layer erosion as well as lowering fertility owing to misuse, acidification, salinization, or other chemical soil contamination. 

Methods of Soil Conservation 

Terrace Farming 

Terrace Framing 

It is an agricultural practice that involves creating terraces, or steps, into the slopes of hilly and mountainous areas to catch water for crops, and it is mainly used for growing rice. By carrying nutrients and vegetation from terrace to terrace, rainwater maintains the soil’s health, reducing soil erosion and improving soil productivity in otherwise idle plots. 

Contour Farming 

 Contour Farming 

Contour farming is similar to terrace farming, but instead of altering the structure of a hill, the farmer uses its natural slope. Plowing parallel to the hill’s contours creates rows of small dams that prevent nutrients, organisms, and plants from running off while increasing water infiltration. 

Crop Rotation 

Crop Rotation 

Crop rotation is an agricultural method that replaces planting the same crop year after year on the same piece of land. It is a method of sustainable agriculture that requires long-term planning, with crops changed every season. 

It not only improves soil health and organic matter but also reduces the use of fertilizer and pesticides, which lowers costs. In addition, it reduces the number of chemicals that enter water supplies, thereby improving water quality. 

Wind Breaks 

Wind Breaks

 Windbreaks are rows of trees and bushes planted between crop fields to reduce the wind’s erosive influence on the soil. Living organisms can also find shelter in windbreaks. Using trees that yield fruits and nuts as windbreaks can help farmers diversify their income. 

Mulching 

Mulching 

Between the plants, an organic material such as straw is used to cover the barren ground. It aids in the preservation of moisture in the soil. 

Rock Dam 

Rock Daam 

Rock dams are small barriers or dams constructed from stone, bagged sand or gravel, or other durable materials, which are placed across drainage channels.  It reduces erosion in an irrigation channel by reducing the velocity of flow. 

Summary:

  • Water conservation s the practice of using water efficiently in order to reduce
    unnecessary water consumption. It refers to the development, management, and
    preservation of groundwater and surface water resources, s well as pollution
    prevention.
  • Rainwater harvesting and Grey water recycling are essential methods to conserve water.
  • Soil conservation entails limiting top-layer erosion as well as lowering fertility owing to misuse, acidification, salinization, or other chemical soil contamination.
  • Soil conservation methods include Terrace farming, Contour farming, Mulching, Crop rotation, Wind breaks and rock dam.

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