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Land clearing is used in agriculture to prepare the land for crops. This can include removal of debris, vegetation and cultivation of the land. There are several different land clearing methods and problems that can occur with this process. There are several important factors to consider before land clearing is started as this ensures that the cost is reasonable and the land is properly prepared for agriculture.
Areas that are heavily forested and need to be cleared are in danger of removing all of the topsoil. Topsoil holds the majority of organic matter in soil and underneath the soil is sterile. The use of machines for land clearing removes the trees and the root balls of the trees, and also takes away all of the topsoil. An alternative to this is hand clearing, which is more expensive and time consuming; however, it reduces the amount of topsoil that is removed. Therefore, less time is needed to prepare the soil and add any needed nutrients.
Clearing land that is covered with weeds can cause problems also. Mechanical cultivation, flooding and chemical control are all used to clear weeds; however, there are types of weeds such as the alang-alang that grow again due to the rhizomes in the ground once the land has been cleared. Normally, once the land has been cultivated, the weeds start to grow again. Flooding can help kill the weeds; ultimately, repeated cultivation is needed to cut up all the rhizomes in the ground.
The cost of clearing the land determines the lands suitability for agricultural use. Land that has many stones and rocks may not be suitable or removal of these materials is necessary. Rocks can be removed by hand, blasting, crushing or mechanical removal; however, the more rocks you have, the more expensive the cost to remove them. Some agricultural lands such as orchards and pastures do not suffer from stones in the ground but crops such as wheat and corn can have problems. Besides removing the stones and rocks, you also need to include the cost of transporting any rocks and stones to another location.
Drainage is required for certain agricultural land uses. Drainage adds on additional costs, though this depends on the type of soil and use of the land. In some areas, particularly those with semi-arid and arid climates, salinity and soil water must be carefully controlled. Additionally, drainage may be needed if the soil does not easily release water and causes puddles or soggy ground. This is a problem for many crops as too much water can cause disease or overgrowth.
Liz Tomas began writing professionally in 2004. Her work has appeared in the "American Journal of Enology and Viticulture," "BMC Genomics" and "PLoS Biology." She holds a Master of Science in food science from Cornell University and a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry from the University of New Hampshire. She is pursuing her Ph.D. in oenology at Lincoln University.