Slope division for erosion control [Switzerland]

Hangunterteilung durch Ackersaum

technologies_1670 - Switzerland

Completeness: 80%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Technology

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:
land user:

Brunner Stefan

Brunner Eichhof


Name of project which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Preventing and Remediating degradation of soils in Europe through Land Care (EU-RECARE )
Name of project which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
OPtimal strategies to retAIN and re-use water and nutrients in small agricultural catchments across different soil-climatic regions in Europe (OPTAIN)
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
CDE Centre for Development and Environment (CDE Centre for Development and Environment) - Switzerland

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

A field at risk for erosion by water is divided so that a grass strip prevents soil loss and further damage to the field and the streets during a heavy rainfall.

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


The technology applied is an individual idea of a land user whose one field provides many problems whenever there is a heavy rainfall event. Because of the slope and the cultivation it is mostly at risk during summer when there are tempests. To minimize the risk of soil and crop loss the land user decided to leave a part of the filed unemployed and planted a seam of grass and flowers to stabilize the soil. Whenever there is a rainfall event, the grass strip stops the flow of water and eroded top-soil and speed is reduced. Consequently, erosion is highly minimized and the damage to the field, crops and the street underneath stays small.

Purpose of the Technology: The aim of the technology is to prevent erosion and soil loss, especially from heavy rainfall events during summer. Crop loss is also a consequence, so the land user loses not only top-soil and organic material but also crops and in the end money. The reduction of this high risk is the reason for the implementation of a grass strip on this problematic field.

Establishment / maintenance activities and inputs: In the beginning seeds and a seeding machine were required. There is a specially designed mixture for field seams in Switzerland which the land user has to apply. After the first growing period the land user has to cut the grass with a special mowing machine. During the next two years the grass has to be cut every month. This is called the cleanup-cut. After the first two years the grass only needs to be cut twice a year. The grass must be led away.

Natural / human environment: The most important conditions for this technology are a moderate slope on a field which is endangered by erosion through rainfall. The technology can stop and slow down the flow of water over the field to a neighbor field or onto the street and therefore minimize the risk and costs of soil loss and its consequences.

2.3 Photos of the Technology

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment



Region/ State/ Province:


Further specification of location:




Total area covered by the SLM Technology is 0.0022 km2.

The total SLM Technology area is 22 are

2.6 Date of implementation

If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date:
  • less than 10 years ago (recently)

2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • through land users' innovation
Comments (type of project, etc.):

The seam was first seeded in spring 2014 by the land user. He had no help with the development and was the first of his family to change something on the endangered field after a heavy rainfall which took away his top-soil and accumulated on the street underneath the field.

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.1 Main purpose(s) of the Technology

  • reduce, prevent, restore land degradation

3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied



  • Annual cropping
  • Main crops (cash and food crops): Other crops: Arable farming and vegetable gardening
Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 1

Longest growing period in days: 200Longest growing period from month to month: April to September or October


Major land use problems (compiler’s opinion): Run-off during rainfall causes often much soil erosion because of the many slopes in this area. As a consequence of erosion there is soil loss and within this also loss of fertility of the soil.

Major land use problems (land users’ perception): The intensification of agricultural fields is the main problem for the land user. Through a intensely use of the soils the risk for erosion increases. However, one must always also do as much as possible for protecting endangered fields of part of it. This is the solution.

3.4 Water supply

Water supply for the land on which the Technology is applied:
  • mixed rainfed-irrigated

Water supply: rainfed, mixed rainfed - irrigated, full irrigation

3.5 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • cross-slope measure

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

vegetative measures

vegetative measures

  • V2: Grasses and perennial herbaceous plants

Main measures: vegetative measures

Type of vegetative measures: aligned: -linear

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

soil erosion by water

soil erosion by water

  • Wt: loss of topsoil/ surface erosion
  • Wm: mass movements/ landslides
  • Wo: offsite degradation effects

Main type of degradation addressed: Wt: loss of topsoil / surface erosion, Wo: offsite degradation effects

Secondary types of degradation addressed: Wm: mass movements / landslides

Main causes of degradation: soil management (machines and moment of tillage are highly important regarding compaction of soil), crop management (annual, perennial, tree/shrub) (Crop rotation must be adapted to the situation and problems, sometimes also short to the weather), Heavy / extreme rainfall (intensity/amounts) (Heavy rainfalls were the trigger for the first soil loss and erosion)

Secondary causes of degradation: other human induced causes (specify) (Heavy machines lead to compaction of soils), change in temperature (It was observed that there are longer hot weather conditions), change of seasonal rainfall (It was observed that there are longer wet weather conditions), governance / institutional (Politics and agrarian policy lead to an intensification of land use)

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
  • prevent land degradation
  • reduce land degradation

Main goals: prevention of land degradation

Secondary goals: mitigation / reduction of land degradation

4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology

Technical specifications (related to technical drawing):

Technical knowledge required for field staff / advisors: moderate (They need to know when to cut the grass and how low the grass needs to be cut. There is a certain size the grass needs to have during the first 2 years.)

Technical knowledge required for land users: moderate (He needs to know everything about the implementation from how to seed and cut the grass until how often the grass needs to be cut. This knowledge has to be given to his field staff.)

Technical knowledge required for apprentice: moderate (The land user needs to show his apprentice how everything works: the machines, the seeding, the cutting and the transporting of the cut grass.)

Main technical functions: control of dispersed runoff: impede / retard, control of concentrated runoff: impede / retard

Secondary technical functions: reduction of slope length, improvement of surface structure (crusting, sealing), improvement of topsoil structure (compaction), stabilisation of soil (eg by tree roots against land slides), increase in organic matter, increase of infiltration

Aligned: -graded strips
Vegetative material: C : perennial crops

Aligned: -linear
Vegetative material: G : grass
Number of plants per (ha): 44 kg

Grass species: Mixture "seam on agricultural crop land" with grass and different flower species, seeded

4.2 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

other/ national currency (specify):

Swiss Franc

If relevant, indicate exchange rate from USD to local currency (e.g. 1 USD = 79.9 Brazilian Real): 1 USD =:


4.3 Establishment activities

Activity Timing (season)
1. Seeding mixture conventionally with seeding machine May
2. First cutting after 2 months because grass grows faster than flowers which need light July/August
3. Cutting once a month for growing of flowers during growing period

4.4 Costs and inputs needed for establishment

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Labour ha 1.0 1500.0 1500.0 100.0
Equipment machine use ha 1.0 750.0 750.0 100.0
Equipment tools ha 1.0 500.0 500.0 100.0
Plant material Seeds ha 1.0 250.0 250.0 100.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 3000.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology in USD 3000.0

4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. Cutting half of grass in August August after first 2 years of establishment
2. Cutting other half of grass in September September
3. Sell the cut grass as fodder or hay to another land user

4.6 Costs and inputs needed for maintenance/ recurrent activities (per year)

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Labour ha 1.0 750.0 750.0 100.0
Equipment Machine use ha 1.0 400.0 400.0 100.0
Equipment Tools ha 1.0 300.0 300.0 100.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology 1450.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology in USD 1450.0

The costs were calculated for the field of 0.22 ha where the land user has now a grass strip in order to prevent run-off and erosion.

4.7 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

The most determinate factor affecting the costs are the labour and the seeds at the beginning. After the implementation of the seam on this agricultural field the costs are remarkably smaller. Furthermore, the land user gets a small amount of subsidies after the implementation of a seam on agricultural fields. But this amount is not that high that it would be profitable to change from rotation farming to agricultural seams.

5. Natural and human environment

5.1 Climate

Annual rainfall
  • < 250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1,000 mm
  • 1,001-1,500 mm
  • 1,501-2,000 mm
  • 2,001-3,000 mm
  • 3,001-4,000 mm
  • > 4,000 mm
Specifications/ comments on rainfall:

1035-1150 mm, winter rains

Agro-climatic zone
  • sub-humid
  • semi-arid

Thermal climate class: temperate

5.2 Topography

Slopes on average:
  • flat (0-2%)
  • gentle (3-5%)
  • moderate (6-10%)
  • rolling (11-15%)
  • hilly (16-30%)
  • steep (31-60%)
  • very steep (>60%)
  • plateau/plains
  • ridges
  • mountain slopes
  • hill slopes
  • footslopes
  • valley floors
Altitudinal zone:
  • 0-100 m a.s.l.
  • 101-500 m a.s.l.
  • 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
  • 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
  • 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
  • 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
  • 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
  • 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
  • > 4,000 m a.s.l.
Indicate if the Technology is specifically applied in:
  • concave situations
Comments and further specifications on topography:

Slopes on average: The average slope in the area treated is moderate (6-10%) however the problematic field is situated in a rolling slope (8-16%) there run-off can gain more and more speed during a heavy rainfall event.

5.3 Soils

Soil depth on average:
  • very shallow (0-20 cm)
  • shallow (21-50 cm)
  • moderately deep (51-80 cm)
  • deep (81-120 cm)
  • very deep (> 120 cm)
Soil texture (topsoil):
  • medium (loamy, silty)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • medium (1-3%)
If available, attach full soil description or specify the available information, e.g. soil type, soil PH/ acidity, Cation Exchange Capacity, nitrogen, salinity etc.

Soil texture is medium (loamy/silty) (Soil texture in this area is mostly sandy loam)
Soil fertility is high
Soil drainage/infiltration is medium
Soil water storage capacity is medium

5.4 Water availability and quality

Ground water table:

5-50 m

Availability of surface water:


Water quality (untreated):

good drinking water

5.5 Biodiversity

Species diversity:
  • medium

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Market orientation of production system:
  • commercial/ market
Off-farm income:
  • 10-50% of all income
Relative level of wealth:
  • average
Individuals or groups:
  • individual/ household
Level of mechanization:
  • manual work
  • mechanized/ motorized
  • men
Indicate other relevant characteristics of the land users:

Land users applying the Technology are mainly common / average land users
Difference in the involvement of women and men: In swiss agriculture land users are mainly men. Women or their wives play also an important role especially in case of decision-making, investment and family.
Population density: 100-200 persons/km2
Annual population growth: 1% - 2%
Level of mechanization is mechanised and manual labour (weeding in biological agriculture must be made manual)

5.7 Average area of land used by land users applying the Technology

  • < 0.5 ha
  • 0.5-1 ha
  • 1-2 ha
  • 2-5 ha
  • 5-15 ha
  • 15-50 ha
  • 50-100 ha
  • 100-500 ha
  • 500-1,000 ha
  • 1,000-10,000 ha
  • > 10,000 ha
Is this considered small-, medium- or large-scale (referring to local context)?
  • medium-scale

5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights

Land ownership:
  • individual, titled
Land use rights:
  • communal (organized)
  • individual
  • government
Water use rights:
  • communal (organized)
  • government

5.9 Access to services and infrastructure

  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
technical assistance:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
employment (e.g. off-farm):
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
roads and transport:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
drinking water and sanitation:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
financial services:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown

Socio-economic impacts


crop production

Comments/ specify:

More production on the area that remains cultivated.

risk of production failure


production area

Income and costs

expenses on agricultural inputs


farm income


Socio-cultural impacts

SLM/ land degradation knowledge


conflict mitigation


Improved livelihoods and human well-being


Ecological impacts

Water cycle/ runoff

surface runoff


soil moisture


soil cover


soil loss


soil crusting/ sealing


soil compaction

Biodiversity: vegetation, animals

habitat diversity

Other ecological impacts

Hazard towards adverse events


6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown

downstream flooding


downstream siltation


groundwater/ river pollution


damage on neighbours' fields


damage on public/ private infrastructure


6.3 Exposure and sensitivity of the Technology to gradual climate change and climate-related extremes/ disasters (as perceived by land users)

Gradual climate change

Gradual climate change
Season increase or decrease How does the Technology cope with it?
annual temperature increase well

Climate-related extremes (disasters)

Meteorological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
local rainstorm well
local windstorm well

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
Short-term returns:


Long-term returns:


How do the benefits compare with the maintenance/ recurrent costs (from land users' perspective)?
Short-term returns:

neutral/ balanced

Long-term returns:


6.5 Adoption of the Technology

If available, quantify (no. of households and/ or area covered):



1 land user families have adopted the Technology without any external material support

There is a moderate trend towards spontaneous adoption of the Technology

Comments on adoption trend: The agrarian policy of Switzerland with its subsidies for different conservation technologies is beneficial for the adoption of this technology.

6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
With the technology the land user reduces the flow of water and soil during a heavy rainfall event. Therefore, he keeps fertile soil and top-soil, reduces siltation and costs for cleaning the contaminated street underneath the field.

How can they be sustained / enhanced? The grass strip must be maintained.
The land user is pleased to get subsidies for his grass strip to compensate for the loss of production area. However, he also likes the fact that he is doing something against erosion of soil and the application of this technology changed his view towards conservation agriculture. He even thinks about some more technologies to try on his fields.

How can they be sustained / enhanced? Subsidies must be provided to balance the loss of production area which results from the application of this technology.
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
The technology helps reducing the speed of run-off during a heavy rainfall. It is visible that with this technology run-off and damages like erosion, soil loss and contamination of roads and neighbor fields are reduced or prevented.

How can they be sustained / enhanced? The grass strip needs maintenance every year several times which requires labour and money. This must be secured in order to protect the technology and its benefits for the conservation of soil.
The technology shows how important individual solutions to land use problems are and that there is no limit in how such a technology must look like. The success of the technology proofs that innovative ideas of land users to prevent erosion and soil loss must be pursued and encouraged by politics and agricultural institutions.

How can they be sustained / enhanced? Politics, agricultural institutions and even the general public must be sensitized to conservation technologies like this. There must be understood that intensification of agricultural production can lead to degradation rather than more production. Not every field is suitable for crop rotation.
With implementing the technology the land user not only protects his field and the street underneath from erosion and damage but also gets subsidies for enhancing local flower production on his field.

How can they be sustained / enhanced? Subsidies for conservation technologies and their outputs must be guaranteed in order to promote the adoption of such a technology. Otherwise the technology is good for sustainable land management but not economically profitable.

6.8 Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks of the Technology and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the land user’s view How can they be overcome?
The major weakness of the technology is the loss of crop rotation area which could be used agronomically. This is associated with a financial deficit in the income. Subsidies help to compensate for the financial deficit. However, this is not a sustainable solution to the problem. The land user must not only see the financial deficit but also the immense advantage the grass strip provides because it saves him costs of cleaning the street, crop loss and soil loss during a heavy rainfall event.

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

Links and modules

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