Dryland areas are particularly susceptible to soil erosion – and healthy topsoil is vital to healthy, productive agriculture in dryland regions. The Water and Livelihoods Initiative (WLI) aims to improve soil conservation in participating countries through the following strategies: promoting sustainable farming practices that minimize topsoil loss and improve fertility; strategies that mitigate the effects of drought; and gully restoration and the construction and maintenance of soil conservation structures that can effectively reduce run-off and conserve soil moisture.
Susceptibility to flash floods and water erosion.
Susceptibility to drought and desertification – increasing the vulnerability of topsoil to wind erosion.
Limited access to technologies that can monitor and model erosion rates – undermining effective decision making.
Soil conservation innovations:
Innovations to reduce susceptibility to soil erosion: constructing and monitoring soil conservation structures capable of limiting and preventing surface run-off and the removal of healthy soils – including check dams, terraces and contour lines.
Promoting conservation agriculture: this practice, which involves not plowing and leaving crop residue in fields for soil fertility and water conservation, minimizes the loss of topsoil.
Monitoring and modeling: close monitoring of soil data, sediment quality and quantity, salinity, and run-off; and using modern technologies to compute run-off and sedimentation rates for different areas to stimulate improved watershed management.
Drought-tolerant plants: introducing fodder plants that can thrive in drought conditions and help to bind soil and reduce erosion.
Selected research activities and results:
Data is being collected so that Soil Water Assessment Tools (SWAT) can be used in Lebanon to model run-off and sedimentation rates, helping to improve decision-making at the basin-level.
At one site in Palestine – Thaherya - 67 hectares of rock terraces, check dams, and contour lines have been constructed, helping to significantly reduce soil erosion and collect an additional 81 m3of water.
Some 33 check dams have been constructed at the Majdyya research site in Jordan’s badia region – helping to reduce run-off and erosion and increase the amount of soil moisture.
Application of K-fertilizer and compost to mitigate the effect of brakish irrigation water on potato and enhance yields in Iraq.