The second approach in maintaining Soil moisture in arid lands is by reducing soil evaporation by applying certain methods. This is important because after securing or preserving the water in the soil of the root zone of plants, it is important to stop this water for maximum time as arid lands or arid agriculture has the characteristics of low rainfall frequency. So till the next rainfall, the previous water of rain should be stopped from evaporation.
There are various methods to reduce evaporation of moisture from soil in arid agriculture. These are;
- Soil Mulching
- Straw Mulching
- Chemical Mulching
This method of soil moisture preservation can reduce the evaporation by 50 percent roughly. In this technique, a surface of mulch of soil is created by giving a shallow cultivation. The deepness of soil mulch is 5-8 cm. The advantage of shallow polughing or harrowing helps in breaking capillary link of lower soil with surface soil. Applying this technique is advice by the agriculture experts after every rainfall.
It is an artificial sort of a mulching technique. In this technique, straws of crop residues are used instead of soil. It has been proved scientifically that straw mulching reduces soil moisture up to 50-75mm. This is technique is widely practiced in arid lands by the farmers after wheat harvesting.
This is a new technique and is under experimentation. Evaporation of soil water is a severe problem in arid agriculture system and the above two techniques though save considerable amount of moisture evaporation; however, they are not long term approaches. Chemical mulching uses chemical Hexadecanol. During experiments, it showed that when sprayed and mix on the top quarter inch of soil, it reduces evaporation by 43 percent. The advantage of this mulching technique over other two is that this technique remained effective for a year. The surface layer of soil gets dry rapidly than untreated soil. The dry layer creates a buffer to evaporation.
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