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Rainwater harvesting and conservation for rangeland and cropland productivity in communal areas
Expanded Title:Extensive research in South Africa has gone into developing a water harvesting system for growing crop in homestead gardens, although focus is shifting to implementing water harvesting in croplands at a much larger scale. Various techniques were identified of which only few were deemed appropriate for use in this project. It was decided to concentrate on-farm micro-catchment techniques including contour ridging, tied ridging, tied furrows, strip catchment tillage, mechanized basins & stone terracing. The In – field rainwater harvesting technique was originally proposed in South Africa in year 2000 as an alternative to conventional crop production. The technique was designed to maximize productive losses of rainwater. By combining the advantages of water harvesting, no –till, basin tillage and mulching on high drought – risk duplex and clay soils, the integrated rain water harvesting technique reduced runoff to zero and evaporation considerably. The general aim of this research was to assess rainwater harvesting and conservation (RWH &C) techniques/practices and related institutional arrangements for improved rangeland and cropland productivity in communal areas through on – station (controlled) and on – farm (participative) research. Two types of methodologies were used during this project: The RWH & C techniques that tested with the statistical laid out on –station field experiments over four maize as indicator crop, were conventional tillage (CT), no –tillage (NT), minimum tillage (MIN), mechanised basins (MB), in –field rainwater harvesting (IRWH) with a 2m runoff area, IRWH with a 2.4m runoff area and daling plough (DAL). (a) On – farm demonstration method in the Eastern Cape was conducted on the Krwakrwa/Hutton ecotype and in Limpopo it was conducted on the Lambani /shortlands ecotype and in the Free State on the Merino/Arcadia and Gladstone/Bonheim ecotopes. The treatments used were mechanized basins, minimum tillage, in-field rainwater harvesting, daling ploughs, minimum tillage and conventional tillage. At Krwakrwa the treatments were implemented on a tilled and no – till contour. At Gladstone and Merino the treatments were in- rainwater harvesting with and without cultivation and contour. (b) On-farm rangeland demonstrations in the Eastern Cape a 6ha area was fenced on the disturbed rangelands where only 2 ha were used for the experiment and the rest would have been for expansion by using the best suitable method. The rehabilitation of disturbed rangelands included the chopping of Acacia Karroo, poisoning and brush packing of bush, planting of legumes and grasses. The whole experimental site was cleared of bush and was then planted with mixture of legumes and grasses. A number of parameters were used to evaluate the socio – economic conditions of the communities in the three provinces where the on – farm demonstrations plots were implemented. These parameters included demographics (population and household composition, age, access to services (water, sanitation, electricity, communication, health and education) and finances (employment, income and expenditure). The following are key summary results from this project. Results obtained from the cropland indicated that: (a) Results obtained from five different ecotypes over a total period of 20 seasons indicated that appropriate RWH&C techniques (IRWH, DAL and MB) are superior to CON for the production of sustainable higher maize yields, RWP values and income in semi – arid areas. (b) RWH techniques (IRWH and DAL) performed better than the conservation techniques (NT/MN and MB). (c) Results indicated that DAL, MB and IRWH perform better on soils with <29%, 29 – 36% clay respectively. (d) Application of appropriate RWH & C techniques (IRWH, DAL and MB) in communal croplands can be used to improve food security and crop land productivity through increased RWP, higher maize yields and higher incomes. Results from rangelands indicated that: (1) Rangeland condition in Lambani could be increased by 51% within one season by cutting the bush and covering bare patches with the branches. The increased dry matter production was 160%. (2) There were no similar good results on improving the disturbed rangelands in one season. In the Eastern Cape good results were achieved with germination but plant survival was unsuccessful. In the Free State restoration was also unsuccessful. This could be attributed to climatic conditions in combination with high clay content soils. Several recommendations were made from this project and this include issues on croplands such as appropriate RWH & C techniques need to be implemented in homestead gardens and croplands to improve household food security in rural communities. (a) More RWH &C demonstration plots need to be established in rural communities to raise awareness regarding the potential benefits of RWH &C. (b) Proper land use planning need to be done to identify suitable areas for implementation. Detailed soil surveys are needed to create soil maps. These soil maps can be used to identify the high potential areas for crop production. (c) It was also recommended that relevant government departments should draft legislation to limit the number of animals that are allowed to graze in certain areas to prevent overgrazing and degradation of the natural veld.Other recommendations were issues such as goverment services, training, institutions & land register.
Date Published:01/04/2014
Document Type:Research Report
Document Subjects:Agricultural Water - Small holder irrigation, Agricultural Water - Rainwater harvesting
Document Keywords:Environment, Municipality
Document Format:Report
Document File Type:pdf
Research Report Type:Standard
WRC Report No:1775/1/14
ISBN No:978-1-4312-0561-5
Authors:Botha JJ; van Staden PP; Koatla TAB; Anderson JJ; Joseph LF
Project No:K5/1775
Originator:WRC
Organizations:Agricultural Research Council – Institute for Soil, Climate and Water, Stellenbosch; Eastern Cape Department of Agriculture; Limpopo Department of Agriculture; Free State Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
Document Size:58 368 KB
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