Water and Soil Conservation for Improved Crop Productivity and Water Household in Sahelian Conditions

Wildemeersch, J. C. et al., 2015. Engineering Geology for Society and Territory, Vol 3: River Basins, Reservoir Sedimentation and Water Resources

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Abstract

Over the last decades, desertification, drought and erratic rainfall have become much debated and distressing issues for Niger, given the country’s reliance on natural resources and agriculture for livelihood. A decisive answer on the causes and extent of both meteorological and soil water drought is therefore of importance to enable effective policy and resilience, but adaption to future climate change often entails the very same practices as rehabilitating degraded land to enhance water productivity. This paper investigates the extent of both meteorological and soil water drought in Niger by combining rainfall and soil water analysis and assesses the potential of various small scale WSC techniques to tackle crop growth limitations in Niger. It presents a trend analysis of rainfall and drought parameters and compares the effect of 5 treatments (zai + manure, demi-lunes + manure, no till with scarification + manure, control + manure and control) on crop performance and soil moisture profiles. The WSC-treatments zai and demi-lunes produce significantly higher yields due to increased soil moisture levels throughout the season. Besides the improved soil moisture conditions, the potential of WSC practices to increase the agronomic efficiency is also largely explained by their impact on the soil nutrient status.

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