Farming on the Edge: Getting the Most Out of Marginal Lands (Click here to listen)

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I’m Barbara Klein with the VOA Special English Report. To call something "marginal" means it is not very good. Farmers have their way to define marginal land: It is the last to be under good conditions, and the first to be under poor conditions.
Low soil is not the only land could be considered marginal. It might be in an area where is limited. Or a hillside might rise too .
There are uses for marginal land, however. Most often it is used as grassland. Grasses XXXXXXX feed for animals like cattle, sheep and .
Grass seed can be bought from a supplier. Or grasses can be used. But it is important to establish good ground cover to avoid soil through erosion.
Forage crops like and alfalfa can be XXXXXXXX. These members of the legume family high protein food for XXXXXX animals. They also improve the quality of the soil.
Most plants use up nitrogen. But legumes put nitrogen back into the soil. Forage crops also help erosion.
However, using marginal land for XXXXXX is not a simple issue. There is a of overgrazing. Cattle can damage forage crops by eating down to the roots. Also, the of the animals crushes the soil and can make it too hard for growing.
A way to reduce the is to move animals from one field to another. This method is known as rotational XXXXXXX. Experts say rotational XXXXXXX is extremely important for marginal land.
Another use for marginal land is for tree crops. Studies have shown that the white and loblolly XXXXXX are two kinds of trees that grow well on such land. They grow fast and XXXXX good quality . Another tree is the poplar, found in many parts of the world. Slower-growing trees like the black walnut also XXXXXXX a crop.
Trees support the soil. They reduce the effects of wind and rain. And they help the sun.
Failure to take the care needed to marginal lands can make a bad situation worse. But good planning can turn a marginal resource into a highly productive one.
This VOA Special English XXXXXXXX Report was written by Mario Ritter. Our reports are online at If you have a question about XXXXXXXXX, send it to We might answer it on our program. I'm Barbara Klein.