A watershed approach to managing rainfed agriculture in the semiarid region of southern Mali: integrated research on water and land use

Birhanu, Z B and Traoré, K and Gumma, M K and Badolo, F and Tabo, R and Whitbread, A M (2018) A watershed approach to managing rainfed agriculture in the semiarid region of southern Mali: integrated research on water and land use. Environment, Development and Sustainability (TSI). pp. 1-27. ISSN 1387-585X

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Soil and water conservation (SWC) practices like that of erosion control and soil fertility measures were commonly practiced in the semiarid region of southern Mali since the 1980s. The SWC practices were mainly meant to increase water availability in the subsurface, reduce farm water runoff and gully formation and improve nutrient content of the soil, thereby increasing crop yield. Despite such efforts to promote at scale SWC practices, the landscape of southern Mali is still affected by high rates of runoff and soil erosion and low crop yield in farmers’ fields. Data are lacking on previous beneficial SWC practices that could be adapted for wider application. In this paper, a watershed approach to managing rainfed agriculture is presented to show potential benefits of SWC practices at field and watershed scales. The approach included (1) community participation in establishing and monitoring new sets of hydro-meteorological monitoring stations and field experiments; (2) studying the dynamics and consumptive water uses of different land uses over time; and (3) evaluating the biophysical and economic advantages of SWC practices implemented in the watershed. Results showed that over a period of 34 years (1980–2014) cropping area and consumptive water uses of crops (sorghum and cotton) increased at the expenses of natural vegetation. However, the yield of these crops remained low, indicating that soil fertility management and soil moisture were insufficient. In such cases, implementation of more SWC practices can help provide the additional soil moisture required.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Research Program : Innovation Systems for the Drylands (ISD)
Research Program : West & Central Africa
CRP: CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Rainfed agriculture, Consumptive water use, Soil and water conservation, Contour bunding, Watershed management, Southern Mali, SWC practices, Erosion control, Soil fertility measures, Watershed, Land and water resources
Subjects: Others > Rainfed Agriculture
Others > Semi-Arid Tropics
Others > Watershed Management
Others > Water Resources
Others > African Agriculture
Others > West Africa
Others > Mali
Depositing User: Mr Ramesh K
Date Deposited: 03 Apr 2018 06:23
Last Modified: 28 May 2018 04:21
URI: http://oar.icrisat.org/id/eprint/10512
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10668-018-0144-9
Acknowledgement: This work was supported by the CGIAR program on Water, Land and Ecosystem (WLE) and the Africa Research in Sustainable Intensification for the Next Generation (Africa RISING) program in Mali. Authors are very grateful to the financial support provided by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and the US Agency for Development (USAID) through the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). Authors would like to thank Mr. Cedrick Guedessou and Kani watershed community in availing data for the study. We are also thankful to the anonymous reviewer whose valuable comment improved the quality of the manuscript.
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