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Conservation tillage, terracing, contour ploughing, irrigation management

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hazard: ,
location: , ,

by Piotr Matczak, Darryn McEvoy, Ilona Banaszak, Adam Chorynski

[other options]

Storing water in soil decreases the negative impacts of droughts. Conservation tillage is the practice of leaving some of the previous season's crop residues on the soil surface. It reduces evaporation from the soil surface. Efficient use of irrigation systems also helps to store the water. Terracing and contour ploughing terrace is a method of soil conservation to slow or prevent the rapid surface runoff of irrigation water. Contour ploughing is the farming practice of ploughing across a slope following its contours, which have the effect of slowing water run-off during rainstorms so that the soil is not washed away and allows the water to percolate into the soil. The rows made by the plough run perpendicular rather than parallel to slopes, generally resulting in furrows that curve around the land.
Extreme event: Drought; Floods
Type of option: Institutional; Legal and regulatory instruments; Management best practice
Risk management:
Sector: Agriculture
Landscape type: Rural
Location: United Kingdom; United States; other
Drivers of change: Socio-economic: Decreased yields in agriculture. Availability of EU CAP subsidies.

Policy: Policy shift towards non-structural hazard management measures.
How and who:
Implementation: Local communities, provinces, river basins.
Institutional context: Option can be fostered by nature protection policies and the EU Common Agricultural Policy. Management tools must fit to the specific local context. Different land use management methods produce different results, depending upon the local context in which they are applied.
Potential barriers: Options require change of traditional agricultural practices, and substantial investments. Lack of knowledge, training, e.g. on soil conservation practises, lack of environmental regulations and monitoring also pose a barrier.
Implications for sustainable development:
Implications for sustainable development: Conservation tillage and irrigation management are generally in accordance with nature protection principles. Terracing reduces run-off and increases water infiltration, but there are problems also such as burial of original soils, changes in soil physical and biological properties, changes in the hydrological regime.
Options involve long term time horizon from an individual's point of view and entail cooperation and trust among farmers and other stakeholders. Terracing has a significant visual impact in contrast with the surrounding natural vegetation and traditional plantations. Conservation tillage requires less labour, which can cause depopulation of rural area.
Options reduce agriculture production fluctuations, which brings more security for farmers and makes food production more reliable. Agricultural production can increase, often in peripheral regions.
knowledge transfer:
Network on participatory irrigation management
Evaluation: Options are considered as effective but with high entrance costs. That's why enhancement from the public sector is usually crucial.
Scientific references:
Burby, R., S. French (1981). Coping with floods, Journal of the American Planning Association, 47: 289-300.
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