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
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%.
The cascading rock Irrigation channel is constructed with stones on rocky slopes to capture surface water runoff from the mountains and channel it to the valley floor, where it can be utilised for human use such as drinking water, sanitation, and irrigation. The uneven surface of the rock channel slows the pace of the water, thus preventing scouring at the foot of the channel. The channel also provides a suitable environment for the cultivation of trees, which in turn can help reduce water and wind erosion on the slopes, preventing rock and debris movement onto the cultivated lands in the valley.
A spiral tube water pump is a method of pumping water by using an undershot water wheel which has a scoop connected to a spiral tube. Spiral water pumps can carry water from the river to fields that are up to 30 meters higher than the river without the use of electricity or fuel. The pumps provide irrigation water from rivers to crop fields at a higher level.
Roof rainwater harvesting is a system where water is stored in an underground water tank. Rainwater flowing over the roof is collected, for example, on galvanised iron roofs. The technology is critical in semi-arid environments where water shortages are common. The water then runs through gutters and a pipe to the underground water tank. To build the underground tank, the ground is excavated, and within this hole, a drum-like feature is built with concrete bricks and mortar, is then sealed and given an opening with a lid. Water is available for multiple purposes, until the following rainy season.
Sub-surface drainage takes place on irrigated lands in saturated and salinized soils by means of sub-soil drainage pipes. A system of sub-soil perforated pipes with surrounding filters was installed to limit the level of the water table in the soil profile, remove salt build up, and provide an adequately aerated zone in the soil for the crop root system.