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Chapter 9 Guide: Soil and Agriculture
Terms in this set (48)
The practice of cultivating soil, producing crops, and raising livestock for human use and consumption
Land that humans use to raise plants for food and fiber
Land used for grazing livestock
A complex plant-supporting system consisting of disintegrated rock, organic matter, air, water, nutrients, and microorganisms
A deterioration of soil quality and decline in soil productivity, resulting primarily in forest removal, cropland agriculture and overgrazing of livestock
Biologically powered agriculture, in which humans and animal muscle power, along with hand tools and simple machines, perform the work of cultivating, harvesting, storing and distributing the crops
Uses large amounts of fossil fuels, water, inorganic fertilizers, and pesticides to produce large quantities of monoculture crops or feedlot stock. AKA High-input agriculture or Modern Intensive Farming
Growing only one type of crop, requires lots of pesticides and human involvement, depletes the soil
Growing one crop in developed countries, using modern techniques, started in the US in the 1950's (1st) and then in India and Indonesia in 1967 (2nd), produce greater number of crops using a high-yield hybrid monoculture crop (wheat & corn for the 1st, and rice for the 2nd green revolution), uses large amounts of fossil fuels, inorganic fertilizers, water for irrigation, and pesticides
Rock that is broken down to make soil
In the R Horizon, parent material, rock that is broken down over time
The disintegration over time of rocks, by wind, water or gradual friction
The layers of the different types of soil in the ground
the cross-section of soil showing the different soil horizons (layers).
The process of water making its way down through the layers of soil in the ground
contains humus (fully decomposed leaf litter), macroinvertebrates, and nutrients, comprises the A Horizon
less than 0.002 mm, low permeability, good h20 capacity, good nutrient capacity, poor aeration, poor workability, high porosity
diameter greater than 0.05 mm, high permeability, poor water capacity, poor nutrient capacity, good aeration, good workability, low porosity (cannot hold water)
relatively equal portions of sand, silt, clay (ideal soil for farming)
a process in which the value of the biophysical environment is affected by a combination of human-induced processes acting upon the land.
Movement of broken down rocks or soil
The processes created while trying to farm on marginal land (arid or semi-arid) so that crops yield less than 10%
Dust Bowl (1926 - 1934)
The grasses of the Midwest (Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico) that had a complex root system were replaced by monoculture crops with simple root systems. Added to this change was the common practice of plowing the field after the harvest, leaving the soil exposed to strong winds during the winter months. The farming practices were changed with the Soil Erosion Act of 1935 that lead to the Soil Conservation Service (now named Natural Resources Conservation Service as part of the USDA). It promoted conservation practices such as contour plowing, crop rotation, conservation plowing, terracing, and windbreaks.
local units of government who are required by state law to carry out natural resource management programs. Districts work with landowners and operators who are willing to help them manage and protect land and water resources on all public and private lands in the US.
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
Formerly known as the Soil Conservation Service (SCS), is an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that provides technical assistance to farmers and other private landowners and managers.
growing a different type of crop in a rotation of 3 or 4 different crops
tillage and crops are run across the slope of the land, creating a slightly ridged surface that traps soil and water. It is NOT effective on slopes of > 8%(use terracing for those)
make or form (sloping land) into a number of level flat areas resembling a series of steps, can be used to grow crops on mountains or unstable areas
2 or more crops are grown at the same time on the same plot (wheat that uses nitrogen and a legume that puts the nitrogen back into the soil. (This is NOT the same as strip cropping!)
a wider area than a windbreak that contains trees as well as shrubs to help reduce wind erosion, retain soil moisture, provide habitats for wildlife and fuel.
the method in which a controlled amount of water is supplied to plants at regular intervals for agriculture. It is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall.
Saturation of soil with irrigation water or excessive precipitation so that the water table rises close to the surface.
the increase in salt concentration on the surface of the soil due to excess irrigation, accumulation of salts in soil that can eventually make the soil unable to support plant growth
a chemical or natural substance added to soil or land to increase its fertility
also known as mineral or commercial fertilizer, is fertilizer mined from mineral deposits or manufactured from synthetic compounds
fertilizers derived from animal matter, animal excreta (manure), human excreta, and vegetable matter. (e.g. compost and crop residues). Naturally occurring organic fertilizers include animal wastes from meat processing, peat, manure, slurry, and guano.
Destruction of vegetation when too many grazing animals feed too long and exceed the carrying capacity of a rangeland or pasture area.
Conservation Reserve Program
In exchange for a yearly rental payment, farmers enrolled in the program agree to remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant species that will improve environmental health and quality.
Summarize the influence of agriculture on the development and organization of human communities.
Originally, humans were nomadic and traveled year-round to get their food. After the Agricultural Revolution, people planted farms, and started to make and grow their own food. This allowed humans to create civilizations around their farms, building larger buildings and establishing larger communities.
Describe the methods used in traditional agriculture.
Traditional agriculture is biologically-powered farming, in which human and animal muscle power, along with hand tools and simple machines, perform the work of cultivating, harvesting, storing, and distributing crops. The fertilizers used are biologically gathered (manure).
What processes are the most responsible for the formation of soil?
An average soil is said to consist of 45% mineral matter, 25% water, 25% air, and 5% organic matter. Weathering of rock also forms soil, this is called denudation in soil development terminology. Deposition is another key aspect of soil formation. In deposition, resources from other locations are moved, and add to the denundated rock to create a combination of minerals and resources.
Identify the five primary factors thought to influence soil formation.
-Parent Material: the mineral or organic material that soil is made from, soil also contains the same basic characteristics of the Parent Material, like color and texture and acidity
-Time: With time, soils qualities can change due to exposure to water, pressure and addition of other resources
-Climate: Specifically the temperature and precipitation, moisture determines the chemical processes that can occur in the climate, also determines the level of plant and animal cover, determines the erosion level
-Relief: The amount of erosion and the deposition of additional resources is determined by relief, slopes are also exposed to varying levels of sunlight
-Organisms: The animals and plants above the soil determine the resources that will come into the soil, organisms that die and will decompose add minerals, animal waste also impacts the contents of the soil
How are soil horizons created?
The A horizon (topsoil) develops as plants add organic material to the soil and plant roots weather pieces of rock. B horizon develops as rainwater washes clay and minerals from the A horizon to the B horizon. The C horizon forms as bedrock weathers and rock breaks up into soil particles.
Identify three human activities that can promote soil erosion.
-the creation of fields with poor planning, and excessive tilling on those fields
-overgrazing of livestock, resulting in minimal grass coverage
-clear-cutting forests (especially on steep slopes)
Describe four kinds of soil erosion by water. What factors affect the intensity of water erosion?
1. Inter-rill erosion: the movement of soil by rain splash and its transport by this surface flow.
2. Rill erosion: erosion by concentrated flow in small rivulets.
3. Gully erosion: erosion by runoff scouring large channels (deeper than 1 foot).
4. Stream-bank erosion: erosion by rivers or streams cutting into banks.
The USDA-NRCS uses the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE)
A = R × K × LS × C × P
A = annual soil loss (tons/a/yr)
R = erosivity of rainfall (function of total rainfall and rainfall intensity)
K = erodibility of the soil (function of soil texture, soil organic matter, and soil structure)
LS = slope length/steepness
C = cropping and management factors (e.g., crops grown, canopy cover, residue cover, surface roughness)
P = erosion control practices (contour tillage and planting, strip-cropping, terracing, subsurface drainage)
What farming techniques help reduce the risk of erosion due to conventional cultivation methods?
contour tillage: crops run across the slope of the land, creating a slightly ridged surface that traps soil and water
strip-cropping: cultivation in which different crops are sown in alternate strips
terracing: farming by cutting step-like rows into the sides of steep slopes to plant crops in
subsurface drainage: Water is carried into the outlet by main drains, which receive water from the laterals. Submains are sometimes used off the main drain to collect water.
How can large amounts of fertilizer add to soil also end up in water supplies and the atmosphere?
Farmers often add copious amounts of fertilizers to make up for loss from erosion and rainfall. After the fertilizers are washed away, they can either carry into waterways or the water carrying them can evaporated and they will be carried into the atomosphere
Describe the effects of overgrazing on soil.
Overgrazing reduces plant diversity in an area, livestock that is forced to feed on overgrazed land will often not gain enough weight for the winter months, reduces plant cover which results in soil erosion, other animals that usually feed on the grasses and resources do not have food.
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