Top 6 Soil Conservation Methods in India and their Benefits

12 Jul 2023
Top 6 Soil Conservation Methods in India and their Benefits Article
Soil erosion has become a pressing problem in India leading to loss of arable land and desertification. The need is to adopt soil conservation methods to sustain agriculture and maintain productivity of the land. The important soil conservation methods in India are terracing, mulching, and contour farming, among others.

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Soil is a crucial natural resource that sustains agriculture, and its conservation is essential to maintain the productivity of the land. Soil erosion, depletion of nutrients, and soil pollution are some of the significant problems that affect soil quality in India. To combat these issues, various soil conservation methods are employed across the country. We will discuss different types of soil conservation methods in India and their importance in this blog.

Soil Conservation Definition & Meaning

Soil conservation refers to the management and protection of soil resources to prevent or minimise soil erosion, degradation, and nutrient loss. It involves implementing various practices and techniques to ensure the sustainable use of soil for agricultural, environmental, and societal purposes.

Soil conservation measures aim to maintain soil health, fertility, and productivity, while also preserving its physical structure, water-holding capacity, and nutrient content.

Soil Erosion and Soil Conservation

There is a key relationship between soil erosion and conservation. The primary goal of soil conservation measures is to prevent soil erosion, which is the process of soil particles being detached and transported by wind or water.

Erosion can cause the loss of top soil, which contains essential nutrients and organic matter necessary for plant growth.

When topsoil is eroded, it not only reduces agricultural productivity but also leads to sedimentation in water bodies, degradation of ecosystems, and environmental problems downstream. Both soil erosion and conservation impact soil fertility to a large extent.

Types of Soil Conservation Methods

By adopting soil conservation in India, farmers can maintain soil health, improve agricultural productivity, protect the environment, and ensure the sustainability of land resources for future generations. The following are the key types of soil conservation practices in India:


Top Soil Conservation Method - Terracing

  • Terracing or Terrace Cultivation is a traditional and widely adopted soil conservation method in hilly regions of India.
  • It involves creating horizontal steps or terraces on sloping land to reduce erosion caused by water runoff.
  • By slowing down the flow of water, terracing minimises soil erosion, improves water infiltration, and promotes moisture retention.
  • This method also creates level planting areas, allowing for efficient cultivation, and preventing nutrient loss through erosion.


Top Soil Conservation Method - Mulching

  • Mulching is a simple, yet effective soil conservation practice widely practised in India. It involves covering the soil surface around plants with a layer of organic or inorganic materials, such as crop residues, straw, leaves, or plastic sheets.
  • Mulching helps to minimise soil erosion by reducing the impact of raindrops, preventing moisture evaporation, and maintaining a more stable soil temperature.
  • This Soil conservation method in India also improves soil structure, enhances water infiltration, and suppresses weed growth.

Contour Farming

Top Soil Conservation Method - Contour Farming

  • Contour farming is another technique commonly used in India, particularly in areas with undulating terrain. It involves cultivating crops along the contours or contour lines of the land.
  • By following the natural contours, contour farming helps to break the flow of water, preventing erosion and allowing water to seep into the soil.
  • This method is effective in conserving soil moisture, reducing runoff, and maintaining the overall health of the soil.

Conservation Tillage

Top Soil Conservation Method - Conservation Tillage

  • Conservation tillage practices aim to minimise soil disturbance during land preparation for planting. This includes techniques such as zero tillage, minimum tillage, or reduced tillage.
  • By reducing or eliminating conventional ploughing, conservation tillage helps maintain soil structure, organic matter content, and microbial activity. It preserves soil moisture, reduces erosion, and minimises the release of Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere.
  • Conservation tillage is gaining popularity in India as it promotes sustainable farming practices and conserves soil health.


Top Soil Conservation Method - Agroforestry

  • Agroforestry is an integrated land use system that combines agriculture with cultivating trees or shrubs. This method not only provides additional income sources but also contributes to soil conservation.
  • Trees and shrubs planted in agroforestry systems act as windbreaks, preventing soil erosion by reducing wind speed.
  • They also enhance soil fertility by fixing nitrogen, improving organic matter content, and reducing nutrient leaching.
  • Agroforestry systems promote biodiversity, create microclimates, and support sustainable land management.

Crop Rotation

Top Soil Conservation Method - Crop Rotation

  • Crop rotation is a time-tested soil conservation method that involves systematically changing the crops grown in a particular field over time.
  • By alternating between different crop species, crop rotation helps break pest and disease cycles, reduces soil nutrient depletion, and enhances soil fertility.
  • This method also promotes biodiversity, improves soil structure, and mitigates weed infestation, leading to healthier and more productive soils.

Benefits of Soil Conservation in India

Implementing effective soil conservation methods is crucial to address the challenges of soil erosion and ensure the long-term health and productivity of Indian soils. The major advantages of soil conservation include:

Protecting Soil Fertility

  • Soil preservation methods play a critical role in preserving soil fertility, which is essential for healthy plant growth and high agricultural productivity.
  • By preventing soil erosion and nutrient loss, these methods help retain valuable topsoil, which contains organic matter and essential nutrients necessary for plant nutrition.
  • Preserving soil fertility ensures crops have access to the necessary nutrients for optimal growth, leading to improved yields and sustainable agriculture.

Conserving Water Resources

  • Water scarcity is a pressing issue in many parts of India. Thus, it is one of the most crucial benefits of soil conservation.
  • Soil preservation methods help conserve water resources by enhancing the water-holding capacity of soil and reducing runoff.
  • Techniques like mulching, conservation tillage, and water harvesting structures promote water infiltration, reducing evaporation and increasing soil moisture retention.
  • The importance of soil conservation includes conserved water availability to benefit crop growth, especially during periods of drought, and reduces the dependence on irrigation, thus promoting sustainable water management in agriculture.

Preventing Soil Erosion

  • Soil erosion is a significant problem in India, particularly in regions with sloping terrains, heavy rainfall, or strong winds.
  • Erosion removes the fertile topsoil layer, which takes hundreds or thousands of years to form naturally.
  • Soil conservation methods such as terracing, contour farming, and windbreaks act as physical barriers, reducing the velocity of water or wind and preventing erosion.
  • By safeguarding the soil from erosion, these methods maintain soil structure, retain nutrients, and protect the long-term productivity of agricultural land.

Mitigating Climate Change Impact

  • Soil conservation practices contribute to mitigating the impact of climate change by sequestering carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, in the soil.
  • Practices like agroforestry, cover cropping, and organic farming promote increased organic matter content in the soil, which helps sequester carbon and improve soil quality.
  • Additionally, healthy, and fertile soils enhance the resilience of agricultural systems to climate change impacts, such as extreme weather events, by providing better water and nutrient availability to crops.

Sustainable Land Management

  • Soil conservation methods promote sustainable land management practices, ensuring the long-term productivity and viability of agricultural land.
  • By adopting these methods, farmers can reduce their reliance on chemical inputs, such as fertilisers and pesticides, leading to more environmentally friendly and economically viable farming systems.
  • Sustainable land management practices protect soil health, reduce production costs, and enhance the overall sustainability of agricultural operations.

Protecting Biodiversity & Ecosystems

  • Soil protection methods not only benefit agriculture but also help preserve biodiversity and ecosystems.
  • Healthy soils support diverse microbial communities, beneficial insects, and other soil organisms, contributing to the overall ecological balance.
  • By preventing soil erosion, these methods also reduce sedimentation in water bodies, protecting aquatic ecosystems and maintaining water quality.
  • Conserved soil resources provide habitats for diverse plant species and wildlife, supporting biodiversity conservation.


In conclusion, soil protection methods in India are essential for preserving soil fertility, combating soil erosion, and ensuring sustainable agriculture. The importance of soil conservation cannot be underestimated. By implementing these techniques, farmers can protect their livelihoods, contribute to environmental preservation, and secure the future of India's agricultural sector.

Remember, proper implementation and adoption of these methods require awareness and support from policymakers and the community. Let us all work together to conserve our soil resources for future generations.

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