March 10, 2018 Sustainable Farming Written by Emily Folk
Repairing Damaged Soil
It’s undeniable that there’s a worrying trend of more

frequent flooding across the world, and more severe flooding when it occurs. And this is not an isolated pattern: Nicaragua, Bolivia and Romania all saw rainfall and flooding reach levels of severity the likes of which had not been known for almost 100 years.

While urbanization has made the concrete jungles of the world particularly at risk to flooding given the increased prevalence of impenetrable ground surface, rural areas are also far more vulnerable to flooding than ever before. Why is this so?

The explanation includes multiple factors such as increased livestock production leading to dense soil so that water cannot percolate downwards; and that monoculture agricultural practices tend to cause erosion of the land’s topsoil thereby removing the land’s absorption capacity. Lastly, we have global warming inducing higher temperatures and in turn causing more moisture evaporation from seas, lakes and rivers which returns to land by rainfall.

So what can you do to promote sustainable farming and reduce the damage done to soil?

1. Drain the land

This may seem obvious, but before you make any drastic changes the soil should be allowed to drain naturally and gradually. In many cases this should last for a few days. However if your soil contains more clay as opposed to loam or sand, this process may extend to a week.

In such circumstances, you may need to explore channel digging to help promote water drainage, as this could be the point where your crops and plants begin to die.

2. Replenish its nutrients

    • Add compost

As stated above, floodwater erodes the topsoil which is humus-rich. As it does so, it also washes away the nutrients thereby depriving plant roots from accessing the necessary minerals. Organic compost is by far the best way to replenish your soil; think of making your own compost bin with kitchen scraps, dead leaves and unbleached paper napkins.

    • Add manure

Well-composted chicken manure is an option to help restore nutrients and minerals in your soil which are vital to plant-growth. Animal manure should be left for circa 90 days before applied to agricultural land in order to bulk up nitrogen levels without adding any toxicity.

3. Alkalize it

Soil fermentation post-flooding can lead to an acidic environment which is counter-productive to plant growth. Adding organic lime aids the soil by returning its pH level back toward neutrality.

4. Prepare the mulch

Bare soil does not bode well for healthy land, therefore heavily mulching your damaged soil with straw, chopped leaves or seaweed will protect the soil additives you have administered and also enhance even more mineral levels and the general ideal growing conditions for your crops.

5. Bioremediation

This is an effective waste management process using live organisms to remove any harmful pollutants present in your soil as a result of flooding. Such contaminants include heavy metals, sewage sludge, coal tar, petroleum and harmful hydrocarbons. Bioremediation’s biggest benefit is that it contributes to the environment and is effective for cleaning insecticides and herbicides.

Natural agricultural practices do leave rural areas susceptible to flooding. However, by taking the above steps to properly drain, replenish and repair your soil, you can begin the process of replanting any damaged crops. As flooding may occur in the future, be aware of which plants better weather floodwaters as these species may be preferable to replant.

You may also wish to focus on preventative agricultural practices such as crop rotation and non-GMO farming to further protect your soil from any future flooding.

This is a guest post written by Emily Folk.
Emily is a conservation and sustainability writer.
She is the editor of Conservation Folks, and you can see her latest updates by following her on Twitter.