Contour ridges on steep slopes
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CTA. 2007. Contour ridges on steep slopes. Rural Radio Resource Pack 07/1. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to cite or share this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57440
A farmer explains why he has built contour ridges on his land in a hilly area.
Cue: Hilly areas by their nature tend to create clouds and receive large amounts of rain. For farmers this can be an advantage, but can also lead to problems. One of the biggest problems is soil erosion. If water falls on steep land with little vegetation, it can become a powerful force of erosion, carrying all the nutrient-rich top soil down into rivers, and ultimately out to the sea. Preventing that damage is vital to a sustainable farming system. One way of achieving that is through contour ridges. These ridges, which can be made of earth or stone, are built across the slope, trapping the rainfall and encouraging it to enter the soil rather than flow down the slope. To be successful, contour ridges must be perfectly level. If one part of the ridge is lower than another, the water will simply form a pool at that point, which in time will create a hole in the ridge, allowing the water to escape. Julius Mollel is a farmer from the village of Oltrumet on the slopes of Mount Meru in northern Tanzania. Lazarus Laiser visited him on his farm to find out more about how farmers can use contour ridges to capture rainwater and prevent erosion. IN: ?I visited one of the farmers living ? OUT: ? used for feeding the animals.? DUR?N: 2?53? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Lazarus Laiser reporting from Arumeru district in northern Tanzania, a hilly area where farmers are using contour ridges to capture rain water and prevent erosion. The interview comes from a radio resource pack produced by CTA. Transcript Laiser I visited one of the farmers living in Oltrumet village, Arusha region, on the steep slopes of Mount Meru, the second largest mountain in Tanzania. Due to the steepness of the land he adopted the system of harvesting water to reduce the speed of water and the speed of eroding the soil. I can see the contours on the farm where I am right now standing. I can count one, two, three which is almost 1 metre high and they really did a good job of harvesting water. And Mr Julius Mollel, may you tell us briefly how the system works? Mollel (Vernac) The contours harvest water in the farm and the water remains in the soil instead of running and eroding the soil. Laiser Did you get any benefit? Mollel (Vernac) I can answer yes, I got a lot of advantages. First I got the soil, it was not eroded. Secondly the products increased, both trees and fruits like bananas and others as you can see. And all the rain that has dropped, I am sure it remained in my farm compared to other fields without contour. And lastly, if you come in dry season my farm is green. Laiser Now it is rainy season and I can see that there is a lot of water which remains on the farm, as Julius said. How difficult is it to plan the system? Mollel (Vernac) Difficulty is when you are making them because you need to measure. It is tiresome work and costs time. But when you continue you will be used to it. Of course you will forget all these things after the good product. Laiser Where did you get the knowledge? Mollel (Vernac) I got the knowledge from the project called SCAPA, Soil Conservation and Agroforestry Programme in Arusha, in our district Arumeru. Laiser Julius learned, got the knowledge from SCAPA, one of the projects which was helping the farmers. How much labour did it cost you? Mollel (Vernac) Time and my strength, nothing else. I did not use money. Laiser What lesson have you learnt personally in implementing this technology? Mollel (Vernac) I learnt to increase my income, to make the soil fertile without adding manure. I also learnt how to harvest the rainwater and the benefit of it. I urge my fellow farmers to apply this knowledge of contours to their farm to reduce soil erosion. Our land is small and easy to erode. If we do not put any control to harvest rain, water will not get good products. Laiser That is the farmer Julius Mollel and I can see that he has really benefited a lot, good maize, good fruits which are here. Also the cows can get good food and as I can see, some of the trees are being used for feeding the animals. End of track.
- CTA Rural Radio