Alternative irrigation: the promise of runoff agriculture by Christopher J Barrow

By Christopher J Barrow

An advent to runoff agriculture - a sort of agricultural irrigation - this article describes how using floor and subsurface water, frequently missed and wasted, permits either small farmers and advertisement agriculturists to enhance yields and the safety of harvest, even in harsh and distant environments. The textual content introduces the concepts and methods, in addition to the demanding situations and the potential for the an important method, that could give a contribution lots to lowering land degradation and enhancing conservation and sustainability.

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Extra resources for Alternative irrigation: the promise of runoff agriculture

Example text

Than environmental conditions would otherwise allow (Lovenstein et al, 1991). It can also feed water storage tanks or cisterns for livestock, domestic supply or irrigation. Runoff control can mean agriculture where rain-fed methods are insecure or impossible, better yields and more security of harvest or pasturage. Even one or a few collections of water a year can, through SWC, considerably improve biomass production or the establishment (or re-establishment) of vegetation cover. Runoff agriculture can be adopted by small scale landusers and by larger commercial producers.

There are irrigated rice terraces at Bananue in the Philippines which are probably more than 3000 years old, which means that they are among the oldest sustained agriculture systems in the world. Recently, however, some have started to break down (see Chapter 5) (Stern, 1979, p15). In the past people have often relied heavily on runoff cultivation. In Peru before the Spanish Conquest there were over one million hectares; nowadays less than one fifth of that is in use but the potential for re-establishing it is there.

There are two obvious responses: draw populations away from sensitive areas; improve agricultural strategies in the affected areas, reducing dependence on rain-fed agriculture. The first makes sense only if people are willing to move and there are oppor- Page 7 tunities elsewhere; in many countries the fate of those who have left the land to seek livelihoods in the cities is severe poverty. The second response cannot always rely on groundwater or streamflows being available. Where they are not, runoff agriculture may be the best option.

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