Method of soil conservation

The appropriate method of soil conservation depends upon the topography, soil type, cropping and livestock system, and climate. To help these decisions, the U.S. farmer can call on the Soil Conservation Service (SCS). A professional conservationist will survey and classify the soil into one of eight broad land-capability classes according to its best use with least erosion. The important consideration is that each parcel of land is managed according to its needs. This means that land not suitable for any type of agriculture, even through unaffected by erosion, should be left for wildlife and recreation, forest land should be used to produce trees, range, and grassland should be used to produce forage, and land suitable for cultivation should be reserved for crop production.

Each kind of farming needs its own special conservation practices, but even with careful land management, additional measure are often necessary to improve land use.

Grass waterways

These are strips of land of varying width permanently seeded to a grass sod. They conduct water to drainage outlets and control runoff from sloping land with cultivated crops. Waterways are used with contours or terraces that drain in to them.

Contour tillage

One easy cropping practice that reduces losses of topsoil is to till the land on the contour (level elevation) instead of up and down the hill. The land is plowed and the crop rows planted and cultivated around the slope, always as the same elevation from end to end. The rows are curved and sometimes come together in points. The ridges left by the tillage tools from small dikes to catch water, allowing more time for it percolate into the soil instead of running down the hill.

Contour strip-cropping

This effective practice is used to conserve both soil and water. Soil conservation is enhanced by alternating strips of solid-planted crops with row crops; for instance, strips of grain or hay crops can alternate with corn or sugar beets. The trips always run on the counter. In some cases this practice reduces erosion by more than half of what it would be if either crop were planted alone.


Terraces are used on long gentle slopes to decrease runoff and to increase water infiltration. On gently rolling land, terraces are low board mounds that follow the contour and retain water that would otherwise run down the slope. The terraces are constructed with a slight grade excess water will flow slowly to an outlet, often a grass waterway. Terraces are also  used in some places on steep slopes. They have been used for countries in the Andes, china, and many other parts of the world where insufficient flat arable land is available. In Thailand, rice Is grown on steep, terraced hillsides.