Articles | Volume 16, issue 12
Research article
21 Dec 2012
Research article |  | 21 Dec 2012

Impacts of conservation tillage on the hydrological and agronomic performance of Fanya juus in the upper Blue Nile (Abbay) river basin

M. Temesgen, S. Uhlenbrook, B. Simane, P. van der Zaag, Y. Mohamed, J. Wenninger, and H. H. G. Savenije

Abstract. Adoption of soil conservation structures (SCS) has been low in high rainfall areas of Ethiopia mainly due to crop yield reduction, increased soil erosion following breaching of SCS, incompatibility with the tradition of cross plowing and water-logging behind SCS. A new type of conservation tillage (CT) involving contour plowing and the construction of invisible subsoil barriers using a modified Maresha winged "subsoiler" is suggested as a means to tackle these problems as an integral part of the SCS. We investigated the effect of integrating the CT with SCS on the surface runoff, water-logging, soil loss, crop yield and plowing convenience. The new approach of conservation tillage has been compared with traditional tillage (TT) on 5 farmers' fields in a high rainfall area in the upper Blue Nile (Abbay) river basin. Test crops were wheat [triticum vulgare] and tef [eragrostis tef]. Farmers found CT convenient to apply between SCS. Surface runoff appeared to be reduced under CT by 48 and 15%, for wheat and tef, respectively. As a result, CT reduced sediment yield by 51 and 9.5%, for wheat and tef, respectively. Significantly reduced water-logging was observed behind SCS in CT compared to TT. Grain yields of wheat and tef increased by 35 and 10%, respectively, although the differences were not statistically significant apparently due to high fertility variations among fields of participating farmers. Farmers who tested CT indicated that they will continue this practice in the future.