Primary methods to prevent desertification: planting, retaining or collecting moisture in the soil, and fertilizing (Google / Xomba)

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How to Protect Your Land from Becoming a Desert

Desertification is the process in which good, fertile land erodes, is warn away, by climate or destructive use into a desert.

Once desertification has started there are several ways to control it and stop it from spreading, the same processes can also be used to prevent desertification in the first place. The primary methods involve planting, retaining or collecting moisture in the soil, and fertilizing.

Planting trees, perennials, and leguminous plants can vastly reduce or even prevent desertification. Trees and perennial plants, (plants that will live though the year, for more than two years) will reduce desertification by preventing erosion which destroy the land and cause desertification. Perennials, specifically, will not only prevent erosion, but it will also dissolve the excess nitrogen that will contaminate the ground and surface water. Perennials will also overwhelm weeds which reduces the need for herbicides that also can cause desertification. Conversely, leguminous plants will extract nitrogen from the air and fix it in the soil which will restore any lost nitrogen, and restore the fertility of the soil.

In addition to planting, another thing to do is to retain or collect moisture in the soil to prevent desertification. The best way to do this is with irrigation and integrating land and water management to protect soils from erosion. Additionally, stones can be used around plant bases to collect rain and dew to help retain soil moisture. Grooves can also be dug to collect rainfall and trap seeds. We can also use methods from Iran in which they will spray petroleum over semi-arid cropland. The petroleum coats the seedlings to prevent moisture loss and stop them from blowing away.


Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.