Alternative irrigation: the promise of runoff agriculture by Christopher J Barrow

By Christopher J Barrow

An creation to runoff agriculture - a kind of agricultural irrigation - this article describes how using floor and subsurface water, frequently missed and wasted, permits either small farmers and advertisement agriculturists to enhance yields and the safety of harvest, even in harsh and distant environments. The textual content introduces the concepts and methods, in addition to the demanding situations and the possibility of the the most important procedure, that can give a contribution lots to lowering land degradation and enhancing conservation and sustainability.

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Extra resources for Alternative irrigation: the promise of runoff agriculture

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Much of the world's available freshwater runs away or evaporates before it can be used by agriculture or before it recharges groundwater; a large proportion of the waste could be prevented by SWC and runoff agriculture. Investment in these strategies has been comparatively neglected; yet such strategies should: • cost less than large scale irrigation schemes; • help reduce urban migration by improving or sustaining rural livelihoods; • counter soil degradation; • cut dependency because it can use local materials and reduces the need for food import; • help recharge groundwater, reduce flood damage caused by uncontrolled runoff, improve regularity and quantity of streamflow; • help those seeking to conserve flora and fauna.

In addition to runoff agriculture there are other alternatives to today's large scale irrigation approach to agricultural intensification: desalination and low-waste irrigation techniques; development of salt-tolerant crops; more efficient irrigation; use of waste water — all of these have great potential. However, there is already a rich tradition of SWC and runoff agriculture, and some of these approaches or improved versions are appropriate for adoption by the huge numbers of small-farmers practising rain-fed farming, and by pastoralists and those involved in conservation, often in remote and rain-deficient environments which cannot support irrigation and where funding is hard to come by (Hudson, 1987).

However, as easier-access water supplies and the best land are used, costs of large scale irrigation spiral up; by 1992 a big scheme in Africa often exceeded US$ 20,000 per hectare to establish (Postel, 1992, p52). In spite of the costs and risks nations still plan to develop large irrigation; for example, Egypt has been reviewing proposals to divert up to 10 per cent of Nile flows to irrigate the Western Desert. 2 billion (at 1997 prices) and the development could be environmentally and socially damaging and unsustainable (Pearce, 1997, p5).

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