Small Scale/Small Field Conservation

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  • i.s to lake care of meir

    al so as to leave it hell,


    Small Scale/Small Field Conservation is intended to help you solve natural resource problems using simple

    conservation practices and concepts . Meant for small fields or to be used on a relatively small scale, the

    practices featured can be designed and installed with a small investment of time and money. This booklet

    should serve to give you the basics- additional technical help is available from your local Natural ResourcesConservation Service office at your USDA Service Center.

    A single conservation practice may solve your problem, but conservation practices

    work best together. The benefits of conservation practices are generally additive- for

    instance, small gullies can usually- be stopped with gassed waterwaN-s car small structures

    (see pages G-7) . But the chosen

    practice will last longer and be

    more effective if the drainage

    area above the gull- is managed

    to absorb more rainfall and

    reduce runoff. Or, cropland

    protected by contouring is

    even better protected if crop

    residues, or mulches, arc left on

    kthe soil surface or if roxucrt >l-

    arc rotated xvith small grain,

    grass or legumes . This kind ( )i

    farming promotes better soil

    and x-atcr quality- as well as

    wildlife habitat . - The use of several practices planned and applict_1 to s()l%- c multiple

    problems is called the "systems approach" to conservation . Ask your local

    conservationist for help in designing a complete conservation system for \ -our land .

    Technical lielp from

    the NRCS to plan and

    install conservationmeasures is free to

    small farm o-ners.


    I111111- M ln

    hasturcs, cropland

    ~tnd w-0land arc anumg

    cc ~nscr~ ati~m imprmrmcnts

    ,mncrs c,f small farms maN

    ccmsidcr four their land .

  • ting the needs of fish andlife is true of a number of;idcrations in planning; complete;eryation systems on privatelycd land .






    ()\\'ING SHEET ~~.Residue monagemerContouringStripcropping/rotaticContour buffer stripsGrass/tree plantingCover crops

    OPPING GIA.LAFSlutes)rop structuresipe structures)rassed waterways

    RI :Dt ( :IN(, I\1PACIS ()1

    Crop residueCover cropsWindbreaks/ShelterbeltsVegetative wind barriers

    \N :\GIN(; (,,It\ZING I.\ND



    )evelop a system" ". . : . =orage

    Nater supplyFences

    ~1 .\NAGING Nt TRII;NTS/PESTSNutrient management basicsPest management basics?ractices you can use

    'I'll l : \\ IN D

    \1 PRO\'ING SOIL. QUALITYManage organic matter"Maintain chemical balances:onserve topsoil

    I :lA . :\NDS, \\()()DI .ANDS & \\-ILDLIF 1Wetlands benefitsmanaging woodlandsMeeting wildlife needs

    ,Iill .IZING S'I'll EAMBANKS,'[icing livestock outVater crossingock riprapmorass filter strip)ioengineering

    ',It\1S'I I : :\1)

    IS SI

    I :ti'Manure stackingComposting

    ,1~ Gutters and downspoutsHeavy use protectionDiversions

    11 .AKIN( ; :\ PLAN

    Where to start' Planning fundamentals

  • 1)rolec/11 e around cover ofcro resldue,f, ,last, orfifes is a basic 6onsenutlonielhod to conaln)f sfeef


    To slow sheet and rill erosion on cropland, you need to leave cover on the soil to prevent falling raindrops

    from splashing and dislodging the soil . You also need to help rainwater and runoff soak into the soil rather

    than run off a hillside, tearing more topsoil loose as it runs off the land . Basic soil-saving methods include

    some type of ground cover and cropping patterns that hold water on the soil to allow infiltration . Since sheet

    and rill erosion account for the majority of sediment in the Nation's waterways, practices that control sheet

    and rill erosion improve water quality . They also benefit fish, other aquatic life, and wildlife .

    t t t ,

    1 ; i

    .. i t,

    also calledconservation tillage, loaves last year's crop residueon the surface before and during planting operations .The residue is left on the surface by reducing tillageoperations and turning the soil less. Advantages :. Provides cover for the soil at a critical time of

    the year, preventing soil erosion, improvingwater quality, and helping wildlife andaquatic habitat .

    . Residue improves soil filth and adds organicmatter for a healthy, living soil .Fewer trips and less tillage reduce soilcompaction .Time, energy and labor savings are likely.

    `,C, ,*,4 +.Mulch protects soil in a strawhcrr\- field . The grc~utnd co~Vcr Icft h\- mulching (,rconservation tillage helps sac soil and 111o) StUt- C and helps control woods .

    >nulching and conservation tillage

    R(,tating rmv crops in alternating strips with Ic Mi ;c1 ~)r who-

    soil-swing plants sl()%\s cn)siom from h()tll the ~~ind .m d NXatcr.

    ( :

    tilling and planting;around the hill with nearly level rows - createshundreds of small ridges on a hillside . Theseridges slow water flo>xL- and increase infiltrationto reduce erosion.. Contouring can reduce soil erosion by asmuch as 50% from up and down hill farming.

    " Contouring is cost-effective .. Most landowners can contour with littleguidance .

    ensure crops are changed year by year in aplanned sequence . Crop rotation andstripcro~pping are common practices onsloping soils because of their potential foursoil saying. Stripcropping saves soil becausehalf the slope is in soil-conserving legumesor grasses most of the time .

    . Rotation also reduces fertilizer needs,because alfalfa and other legumes replenishsoil nitrogen that's been removed by grain crops.

  • " Pesticide costs may be reduced by naturallybreaking weed, insect and disease cycles.

    " Meadow or small grains cut soil erosionand improve soil condition .

    " Crop rotations add diversity to the land .


    _ are amongthe best soil conservation practices because ofthe excellent ground cover the plants provide." Improving stands of grass or woodlands can

    increase profits ." Healthy, well-managed woodlands andgrass lands provide long-term wildlife habitat .

    reduce sheet & iii

    " Vegetation provides cover and habitat forsmall birds, mammals and beneficial insects .

    " The strips reduce erosion by slowing waterflow and increasing water infiltration .

    are close-growing crops thatcover the land to protect the soil when cropresidues arc not adequate . Crops such as cerealrye, oats, winter wheat or legumes are plantedto temporarily- protect the ground from windand water erosion during times when croplandisn't adequately- protected against soil erosion.Cover crops

    op rotation



    pro Itecti\e cm-cr crops Ixt\x - een row crops such as grapes can build the soil as Ircll as protect it fromcrosivc h)rccs 4 eater and wind .

    Grass strips placed in contoured roves

    help catch the soil to break up steepslopes and reduce sheet and rill erosion

    Cons//// your XKC:S coll-serrationi.rt,~ol- tecLutica/ and/inalnl'a/ be/p ill protectil~gtour _roi/r f1-ow ero_riou_


    stopping soil erosion

    \ ~~rIIutul CI~\Ir III tr-~ :~rstc)ppinl; soil cro~sio~n .

    " Matching tree or grass species with soil types " keep ground protected .prevents soil erosion, increases income, and " add organic matter to the soil .boosts productivity. " trap nutrients and reduce weed competition .

    strips of grassin a contoured field, help trap sediment andnutrients . Similar to stripcropping, but withnarrow, permanent grass strips .

  • The dl~y o1 the draina,,a1ea chorea ,idle andla11d .rlope poiirt t0 the~Pe of 0mrlure heslwiled to control the will

    Gully erosion along and acrosssteep roads is a common prob-lem for orchard owners . Waterbars divert runoff water awayfrom orchard roads (bottom) .


    There are several types of soil erosion, but none is more visible on the landscape than gully erosion . Gulliesoften begin in slight depressions where concentrated runoff water from heavy storms tears at the soil . Theymay also form as rapidly melting snow or ice runs off the land . Sediment from gully erosion fills farm ponds,road ditches, streams and lakes, and causes other problems downstream .

    A variety of grade stabilization structures can be built within gullies to control erosion . They reduce thegrade, or slope of the gully channel, to slow the water and reduce its energy . Common structures includechute spillways, drop structures, pipe drop structures, and grassed waterways.

    ( ; ; ; it - :, ;\\ A chute spillway can be easy to install and lastfor several years . Chute spillways are used tocontrol overfills or headcuts within channelsor constructed Nvatenvays . Chutes can also beused to safely move water from farm fieldsinto the bottom of drainage ditches. Chutespillways can be constructed using variousmaterials such as concrete, loose rock, geoteltile,concrete blocks, or established sod. The typeof material will dictate the amount of timeand energy that will be needed to maintain thestructure after each runoff event. The suitabilityof the chute spillNvay to the site conditions isimportant since a lot of time, effort, andmaterials will be used to install the practice .It is important to have the practice designedby a qualified person .

    1 ) ;~ () ;~ 1~ ; ;, + c . ; ; ;c ;

    (small dam)The straight drop spillway is a dam that directs

    water floe- through or over a designed opening,where the water drops to a nearly level apronor stilling basin and then passes into thedownstream channel. Be