Q. 5

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Answer :

Land degradation is the loss of the quality and physical characteristics of land and soil. It reduces the economic value and productive capacity of the land. In its extreme case, land degradation can result in a desert-like condition. It is caused by both natural and human interferences, even though in most cases human interferences intensifies the situation. Deforestation, excessive use of chemicals, overgrazing, mining and rapid changing of the landscape are some of the major causes of land degradation.

The major measures that can be taken to reduce land degradation are-

Afforestation- Land degradation and soil erosion occurs mainly because of the reduction in the capacity of the soil to hold water. The main agent that holds back the soil during surface run-off is trees. Deforestation and indiscriminate cutting of trees have resulted in the erosion of topsoil. Thus afforestation and reforestation is the main way through which land degradation and soil erosion can be prevented. Planting trees helps in holding back the topsoil and reduces the impact of surface run-off to a very large extent.

Reducing the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides- Land degradation occurs through the increased level of chemicals sprayed to raise the yield of crops. These chemicals result in land pollution and destruction of the physical nature and texture of the land. Increased use of these chemicals kills earthworms, Rhizobium, bacteria and other microorganisms essential for maintaining the fertility of soil and quality of the land. Reducing chemicals and using organic manure will reduce land degradation to a great degree.

Changing cropping patterns- Cultivating the land for a particular season and then leaving the land desolate will reduce all the nutritional elements of the land. This will make the land barren. Thus the farmers have to practice crop rotation and intercropping to maintain the fertility of the land. Crop rotation helps in maintain the soil quality during the off-season periods of the main crop while intercropping helps to retain the quality of soil by sowing different crops at alternative rows along with the main crop. Mulching and covering the topsoil with grass or straw should be done to maintain the quality of land and retain its moisture.

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<span lang="EN-USNCERT Geography- Resources and Development