Soil erosion, soil degradation and declining soil fertility are widely regarded as major problems threatening the sustainable use of sloping agricultural land in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region. Soil erosion reduces the rooting zone depth and quality and is the most pervasive long term cause of soil productivity loss. The primary causes of soil erosion are excessive or poor tillage practices that leave bare soil exposed to the eroding forces of water and wind. Decline in soil fertility is a natural process that results from various factors, the main one being the growing and removal of crops without replacing the removed nutrients; nutrient loss through soil erosion and nutrient leaching also play a role, particularly on sloping land. Soil status is an important indicator of land productivity and one of the most important factors contributing to crop yield. Prevention of erosion and management of soil fertility are among the most important issues in agricultural production; but maintaining soil fertility for sustainable crop production is a great challenge.
The soil management activities at the Godavari site focus on various methods for reducing erosion and improving soil fertility that do not require large inputs, are not based on the use of inorganic fertiliser, and can be used by individual farmers with few resources. The major practices are described below.