Soil stabilization. The use of a cover crop immediately after clearing is sometimes recommended to stabilize the soil in the following rainy season. Various creeping legumes are recommended for this purpose, including Mucuna, Centrosema, and Peuraria.
If these legumes are planted, they form a rapid cover, giving protection to the soil surface against rain drop impact. They further build up a supply of organic matter which assists in retaining the store of nutrients existing in the soil, and also improves soil moisture retention.
Farmers may be unwilling to practice soil stabilization after clearing, as the first crop after clearing is normally the best due to the build up of fertility under forest. Trials carried out at IITA yielded the data shown in (Table 2).
Table 2. Run-off and soil loss (IITA trials. Traditional clearing is partial clearing, leaving standing trees, as practiced by shifting cultivators).
Operation. In all clearing processes, it is important that operators are thoroughly trained before clearing commences. Unnecessary slewing of the tractor or too tight turning cause soil disturbance, and heaps of soil are pushed up which hinder later operations.
Manipulation of attachments is also important. For example:
Safety. No machine should be used for land clearing without proper protection for the operator. Protection packages are available from various manufacturers, which besides protecting the operator from falling trees, also protect the engine compartment from damage while windrowing trees. A mosquito net should always be available for the operator should he fell a tree which contains bees. The sting of African bees can be lethal.
|Objectives, Study materials, Practicals|
|1||What and when to clear|
|2||How to clear|
|3||Effects of land clearing|
|5||Suggestions for trainers|