Best practices in sustainable land management
Examples from the SPI report
In 2017, UNCCD’s Science Policy Interface (SPI) published a report showcasing several dozen examples of individual sustainable land management (SLM) best practices selected from scientific journal articles, research papers and SLM databases (including WOCAT). This information is categorised by land use type and technology group.
The WOCAT global database on SLM
The WOCAT database is one of the largest SLM global databases. The database contains more than 2,180 SLM practices from 130 countries, in twelve different languages, including best practices reported by UNCCD Parties.
Best practice examples
An analysis of field survey results and a conceptual model of the factors that influence cropping and fallowing practices on small farms in Brazil. A multi-fallow cultivation system that used rice, corn and bitter manioc in various relay-intercropping combinations was the most common cultivation practice observed.
Spate irrigation is a traditional water diversion and spreading technology under which seasonal floods of short duration – springing from the rainfall-rich highlands – are diverted from ephemeral rivers (wadis) to irrigate cascades of leveled and bunded fields in the coastal plains. Floodwater is distributed from field to field: when a field is completely flooded, water is conveyed to the immediate downstream field by breaching one of the bunds. This process continues until all the water is used up.
Mid-season drainage involves the removal of surface flood water from the rice crop for about seven days towards the end of tillering. It involves ridge and furrow cultivation technology, where some moisture still exists in the soil even after the toe furrow is drained. Mid-season drainage reduces methane emissions of paddy fields, with reductions ranging from 7 to 95%.
Native trees, shrubs and grasses planted through participatory action. One part of the agave is planted in continuous lines to create a green wall to control soil and water runoff and the other part is planted in staggered. In addition, other native plants are planted between the lines of agave, to be used as food, fodder and/or medicinal products.
Organic fertilizer is applied to the fields to enhance productivity by increasing the level of organic matter in the soil (humus), which stimulates soil biological activity and improves soil structure, water infiltration and retention, and nutrient storage. The most commonly used organic fertilizers include compost using straw pen manure with litter or household waste. Farming advisors provide farmers with training on techniques on preparing and applying the different types of organic fertilizer. Basic equipment (cart, wheelbarrow) is used to transport the organic matter. Preparation and maintenance of the composting and slurry pits and application of fertilizer on the fields are managed by the farmers.
Application of fine-grained charcoal as an amendment to improve soil quality and mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from croplands. As a soil amendment, biochar can favour long-term stabilisation of carbon stocks, serving as a net withdrawal of atmospheric carbon dioxide. From an agronomic point of view, high organic carbon input from biochar can enhance the nutrient and water retention capacity of the amended soil, reducing the total fertilizer requirements.
The technology makes use of red worms to process fresh manure filled into a trench to improve soil fertility. To process the manure, a trench is prepared and filled with fresh manure and 5 kg of worms, which feed on the manure and process it. Within 20-25 days bio-humus is produced and then separated from the worms by using a metal mesh, and the activity can be repeated anew. The produced bio-humus is used as an organic fertilizer for vegetable production. Application norms are 2.5-5 tons of bio-humus per hectare.
Planting pits are filled with organic vegetative material mixed with decomposing manure to create a reservoir of nutrients for a banana plantation. Each pit is dug close to a banana stand and is filled with chopped banana stems, a layer of manure covered with mulch to prevent excessive evaporation of moisture, and a top layer of soil. The main objective is to improve soil fertility, reduce soil erosion, improve moisture infiltration and retention, and enable the plantation to withstand the dry months.
By taking advantage of the natural process of decomposition of organic matter by microorganisms, compost is produced from raw materials such as weeds and bio-waste available on the farm. The raw materials are shredded and sprayed with a mixture of one tablespoon of forest soil and one tablespoon of sugar/molasses in one liter of water to hasten decomposition. The purpose is to produce compost to use as fertilizer, which can reduce the input cost of using chemical fertilizer and negative effects to the soil and the environment. Compost is a rich source of organic matter which improves soil quality. Its decomposition slowly releases available nutrients for plant uptake.
Seed priming and microfertilization are two agronomic measures to increase soil fertility and increase crop harvests in semi-arid drylands. Seed priming consists of soaking seeds for 8 hours prior to sowing, and microfertilization is the application of small amounts of mineral fertilizer to the planting hole. Priming will increase water use efficiency and results show that yields can be increased by 50% if microfertilization is combined with seed priming. Seed priming and microfertilization can be practiced independently from each other; however, the combination reduces the risk of crop failure and shows best results in terms of yield increase.