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
Strip tillage is a cropping system for maize which reduces the reworking of the soil to the stripes, in which the seeds are planted. Strip tillage is a mixture between no tillage and conventional agriculture. Instead of ploughing and harrowing, a special rotary tiller including a grubber is used; it is used to avoid soil erosion or for economic reasons. The reworking of the soil, manuring, seeding and applying of herbicides can be done at once.
Maintenance of continuous soil cover; alternating crops and cover crops as a practice to improve soil quality and reduce diffuse agricultural water pollution. Continuous cover cropping has been promoted as an agro-environmental measure to extend sustainable land management and reduce diffuse water pollution. The type of crop species depends on the crop succession. Compared with systems that do not use cover crops, continuous soil cover provides long-term agronomical and environmental benefits due to a reduction of negative impacts on agro-ecosystems.
Growing crops (or pastures) without disturbing the soil through tillage; direct seeding/planting and residue management (partial soil cover). No till technology reduces soil erosion and soil compaction while conserving water in the soil. It also makes optimum use of scarce and low rainfall to stabilise/increase crop yields. A special no-till drill was developed to simultaneously seed and fertilize annual crops. Seeding is earlier than in the case of conventional tillage, which requires seedbed preparation. Spacing between rows is adjusted according to crop type; tillage depth depends on soil workability and moisture content. Application of special herbicides replaces tillage for weed control, and enables the farmer to have a fallow period.
Leaving crop residues on the soil surface and subsequent planting through the mulch. The mulch layer has several important functions: it helps to increase and maintain water stored in the soil, reduces soil erosion, contributes to improve soil fertility and it efficiently controls weeds by hindering their growth and preventing weeds from producing seeds.
Mulching involves spreading waste crop after harvesting. Covering the soil with mulch protects it against wind and water erosion and provides nutrients which have a positive effect on yields and food security. Mulching also helps to improve the infiltration of water and reduce the evaporation of moisture from the soil.