Soil conservation saves the land, even when a hurricane strikes

    | October 21, 2013

    Download this story

    In this week’s story from Madagascar, farmers and fisherfolk try to recover from a cyclone. Natural disasters such as cyclones, floods and hurricanes often cause a lot of damage to farmland. But that damage can be reduced when farmers use soil conservation techniques. Farmers can build rock walls, establish grass barriers, add organic matter to the soil, and grow cover crops.

    Some soil conservation techniques create physical barriers that stop soil from moving. Others use trees or cover crops to hold soil in place. Many soil conservation techniques hold moisture in the soil. Soil that holds moisture will stay in place when dry soil is washed or blown away. These are important considerations when you farm in a disaster-prone area.

    After Hurricane Mitch hit Central America in 1998, a scientific study compared the damage on farms that used soil conservation with farms that did not. Farms that used soil conservation had deeper topsoil and higher levels of soil moisture. And they suffered much less damage from the hurricane.

    Our script of the week tells the true story of Hurricane Mitch in the voices of two farmers who experienced it.