Stabilized soil does not wash away or erode. Soil stabilization is the focus of sustainable agricultural practices worldwide because stable soil is essential for growing food. Drought and famine are two of the consequences of unstable soil.The current rate of soil erosion far exceeds the rate of soil creation, according to a report by the Center for Earth Leadership. It takes 500 years for 1 inch of topsoil to be created naturally, but there are several ways to increase the rate of soil stabilization in a home garden.
Soil stabilization is increased by adding organic matter such as compost. It provides materials for roots to cling to, which reduces erosion. Soil that contains adequate organic matter retains water easily. Soil devoid of organic matter washes away, creating the dry conditions that cause dust storms. Compost is easily made in the backyard using kitchen scraps and yard clippings.Many local recycling programs offer workshops on backyard composting.
Mulch is a layer of materials such as straw, leaves or chipped bark that is placed around plants to protect the soil and the plant root system. Mulch slowly decays and increases soil stabilization by adding organic matter. Soil’s stabilization is increased yearly as more mulch is added to the garden. The result is a higher level of soil fertility as well as soil stabilization. Seeds and plants are put into the ground by gently separating the mulch layer.
Practice No-till Gardening
The American Dahlia Society recommends the no-till method of gardening, which increases soil stabilization and fertility. Tilling introduces oxygen into the soil and increases the rate of organic matter decomposition. No-till methods use cover crops and mulching to continually replenish the soil. Tom Cleere and Steve Nowotarski of the American Dahlia Society say, “Soil blows and washes away without protective covering crops. Years ago farmers became dependent on chemical fertilizers, herbicides and machinery to increase their yield. The results of such practices have left Iowa with half its topsoil gone.”