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Vallerani system [Burkina Faso]

technologies_1528 - Burkina Faso

Completeness: 84%

1. معلومات عامة

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

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:
Name of project which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Book project: Water Harvesting – Guidelines to Good Practice (Water Harvesting)

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

When were the data compiled (in the field)?


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


1.4 Declaration on sustainability of the described Technology

Is the Technology described here problematic with regard to land degradation, so that it cannot be declared a sustainable land management technology?


2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

A special tractor-pulled plough that automatically constructs water-harvesting catchments, ideally suited for large-scale reclamation work.

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


The Vallerani implement is a modified plow named Delfino3, pulled by a heavy-duty tractor. A normal plow on flat land excavates a symmetrical furrow, and earth piles up equally on both sides of the furrow. The Delfino3 plow has a single reversible plowshare that creates an angled furrow and piles up the excavated soil only on the lower (downhill) side. This soil forms a ridge that stops or slows down runoff water as it flows downhill. The plow’s blade moves up and down (i.e. in and out of the soil), creating micro basins about 5 meters long, 50 cm deep and spaced about 2 m, each with a ridge. Two ripper placed before the plow work the soil to a depth of 70 cm, rise at the basin and descend between the basins. Thus to attain, in the stretch of land between the crescent, a collection bag which receives water from the crescents itself. Even with very low rainfall (150-500 mm/year) each micro-basin/storage bag can collect 1500 litres of water, including runoff. This water is protected against evaporation and remains available to plant roots and groundwater.

The Vallerani System is based on direct sowing of seeds of shrubs and trees of locally available, indigenous species. They are sown along the ridges of the basins and in the wake of the ripper. In the case study area Acacia tortilis, Ziziphus mauritania, Balanites aegyptiaca, Acacia senegal, Acacia seyal and Faidherbia albida have been sown. While for most species seeds can be collected by the local population, for species rarely present in the region, the seeds have to be purchased from tree nurseries. The use of goat excrements containing seeds has also proven successful (about 95% of all micro basin have at least one tree growing after 3 years) when directly sown. With more moisture available for a long time trees grow rapidly and the herbaceous cover improves in quality and in quantity - providing 20-30 times more livestock fodder (1000-2000kg dry herbaceous biomass ha/year), also helping to conserve the soil. The plowed and sown area is not protected by fences, grazing of animals shall be allowed so that villagers can benefit from the forage and reduce the accumulation of biomass fuel that would further the risk of fires in the dry season.

The Vallerani plow can ‘treat’ up to 20 ha, digging 5.720 micro basins, in a single day. The speed and effectiveness of the Delfino3 plow are its major advantages in the fight against desertification, but can also be its major limitation as to be able to make the best of it, it is necessary to find great availability of land to be reforested or cultivate. This is mainly possible related to a large public or business initiative. The spreading "like wildfire" that has characterized the case study was made possible by the presence on the territory of an NGO already active and rooted in the territory for many years and by perseverance, respect and competence of partner "of the North". Once the project has invested in the tractor and the plow (tractor ~ 70,000 EUR, plough ~ 40,000 EUR), the remaining cost of implementation – labour costs for local workers and drivers, fuel etc. amount to around EUR 125 / ha / year.

The case study area in the north east of Burkina Faso receives about 300-500 mm of annual rainfall. The soils of this agropastoral land are heavily degraded with a low tree density and an almost entirely absent herbaceous cover.

2.3 Photos of the Technology

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


Burkina Faso

Region/ State/ Province:


Further specification of location:


2.6 Date of implementation

If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date:
  • 10-50 years ago

2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • during experiments/ research

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.1 Main purpose(s) of the Technology

  • improve production
  • reduce, prevent, restore land degradation

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

أراضي الرعي

أراضي الرعي

Extensive grazing land:
  • Semi-nomadism/ pastoralism
Mixed (crops/ grazing/ trees), incl. agroforestry

Mixed (crops/ grazing/ trees), incl. agroforestry


Major land use problems (compiler’s opinion): Land degradation-desertification with reduction of vegetation cover in terms of plant density and species diversity is the main problem: disappearance of grasses and trees, reduction of the size of the plants that are resistant and of the biological activity of the soil. Runoff, water and wind erosion increase. Drought and irregular precipitation have heavy consequences on soil fertility, availability of water for humans and livestock, and recharging groundwater.

3.3 Further information about land use

Water supply for the land on which the Technology is applied:
  • rainfed
Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 1

Longest growing period in days: 90

3.4 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • water harvesting

3.5 Spread of the Technology


Total area covered by the SLM Technology is 50 m2.

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

vegetative measures

vegetative measures

  • V1: Tree and shrub cover
  • V2: Grasses and perennial herbaceous plants
structural measures

structural measures

  • S4: Level ditches, pits
management measures

management measures

  • M2: Change of management/ intensity level

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
  • Wg: gully erosion/ gullying
soil erosion by wind

soil erosion by wind

  • Et: loss of topsoil
chemical soil deterioration

chemical soil deterioration

  • Cn: fertility decline and reduced organic matter content (not caused by erosion)
physical soil deterioration

physical soil deterioration

  • Pc: compaction
biological degradation

biological degradation

  • Bc: reduction of vegetation cover
  • Bh: loss of habitats
  • Bs: quality and species composition/ diversity decline

Main causes of degradation: over-exploitation of vegetation for domestic use, overgrazing, change of seasonal rainfall, droughts
Secondary causes of degradation: deforestation / removal of natural vegetation (incl. forest fires), education, access to knowledge and support services

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
  • restore/ rehabilitate severely degraded land

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

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology


Deserto Verde

4.2 Technical specifications/ explanations of technical drawing

A. The land chosen together with the local population is plowed with the special Delfino3 plow. B. Local people sow seeds (collected from local trees or bought if species are rare) or goat dung containing seeds (collected in the night enclosures after feeding the goats shaking trees with ripe seeds). C. The micro basins collect the rain that falls into the crescents and 50% of the runoff water. The water easily penetrates into the soil, fills the storage bags, remains available to plant roots and drains into the groundwater without risk of evaporation. Each micro basin/storage bag can collect up to 1.500 l of water.
h1-Depth of the ploughshares work: =40/50 cm
Width of the micro basin: 40/50 cm
L1-Length of the micro basin, programmable: =3,5/5 m
h2 Depth of the rippers work: =50/80 cm
P-Total length of work: 4/8 m
Tractors horsepower 210/250 (150-198 Kw)
Working speed: 4/7 Km/h
Weight : 2000 Kg

Location: Oudalan, Gorom Gorom province. Burkina Faso
Technical knowledge required for field staff / advisors: high

Main technical functions: control of raindrop splash, improvement of ground cover, improvement of topsoil structure (compaction), stabilisation of soil (eg by tree roots against land slides), water harvesting / increase water supply, increase of biomass (quantity), promotion of vegetation species and varieties (quality, eg palatable fodder)
Secondary technical functions: increase in organic matter, increase in nutrient availability (supply, recycling,…), increase of infiltration, increase / maintain water stored in soil

Retention/infiltration ditch/pit, sediment/sand trap
Spacing between structures (m): 0.5
Depth of ditches/pits/dams (m): 2
Length of ditches/pits/dams (m): 5
Change of land use practices / intensity level

4.4 Establishment activities

Activity Type of measure Timing
1. Project planning, consulting and training by VS and national experts Structural
2. Plowing with the Delfino special plow pulled by a 210hp tractor Structural Dry season
3. Seed harvesting can be done by local people either collecting them directly from plants or by shaking the plants at the appropriate time, to feed the goats and sheep with the fallen seeds and collect their dung in the night enclosure Structural
4. Missing seeds can be purchased in local markets or, if trees are too rare or if the species is no longer present, seeds must be purchased at a nursery Structural When seeds are ripe
5. Direct sowing Structural Dry season

4.5 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 72,0 72,0 50,0
Equipment machine use ha 1,0 23,4 23,4
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 95,4

4.6 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Type of measure Timing/ frequency
1. No maintenance activities are required Structural

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


All data presented in the table refer to an ideal project which lasts 5 years with 3000 hectares plowed each year. All works are carried for economic retribution. Item number 1 refers to the planning, training and consulting engineers that has a strong impact on the cost per ha ($47). This voice would remain the same if 3 MTU (Mechanized Technical Unit) were used in the same area reducing its impact to $ 15,6 per ha.

4.8 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

Upfront costs for the aquisition of the required materials are around 40,000 EUR for the plough and 70,000 EUR for the tractor.

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:

400-600 mm

Agro-climatic zone
  • arid

Thermal climate class: subtropics

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.

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):
  • coarse/ light (sandy)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • low (<1%)

5.4 Water availability and quality

Ground water table:

> 50 m

Availability of surface water:


Water quality (untreated):

for agricultural use only (irrigation)

5.5 Biodiversity

Species diversity:
  • low

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Off-farm income:
  • less than 10% of all income
Individuals or groups:
  • groups/ community
  • women
  • 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: The project involves the reforestation and reconstruction of the herbaceous layer for the grazing of livestock that are male dominated activities. Since 2010 women have sown special plants for medical use, domestic use and as raw material for crafts and protected them from grazing.
Population density: 10-50 persons/km2
Annual population growth: 3% - 4%
Off-farm income specification: The only activity people of the region are engaged in is goat and cattle breading. Crop production is practiced only for subsistence use.

5.7 Average area of land owned or leased 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)?
  • small-scale

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

Land ownership:
  • state
  • communal/ village
Land use rights:
  • open access (unorganized)
  • communal (organized)
Water use rights:
  • open access (unorganized)
  • communal (organized)

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


fodder production

Comments/ specify:

up to 30% more than before implementation

fodder quality


wood production

Quantity before SLM:

50 trees/ha

Quantity after SLM:

350 trees/ha

Socio-cultural impacts

food security/ self-sufficiency

Comments/ specify:

The technology can be applied for agriculture producing 2 to 4 times more than with traditional systems

health situation

Comments/ specify:

No more malnutrition=better health!

cultural opportunities


recreational opportunities

Comments/ specify:

More wood, fodder and water available= more time available

community institutions

Comments/ specify:

Old, young and woman work together for common benefits

national institutions

Comments/ specify:

Were applied on large scale

SLM/ land degradation knowledge

Comments/ specify:

Environment education in theory and practice, is part of the system

conflict mitigation

Comments/ specify:

More fodder and water highly reduces conflict motivations

situation of socially and economically disadvantaged groups

Comments/ specify:

Women have collected, sown and protected medicinal plants and plants for raw materials for handcrafts to sell at the market

Training of skilled labour in disadvantaged regions

Comments/ specify:

Chance to find good jobs

contribution to human well-being

Comments/ specify:

Thanks to the enormous increase of trees, pasture and crop production, the quality of life and health of men and animals have improved considerably.

Ecological impacts

Water cycle/ runoff

harvesting/ collection of water


surface runoff


groundwater table/ aquifer


soil moisture


soil loss


soil compaction


nutrient cycling/ recharge


soil organic matter/ below ground C

Biodiversity: vegetation, animals

biomass/ above ground C

Climate and disaster risk reduction

fire risk

Comments/ specify:

Through the high soil cover with trees and grass fire risk increase, this is avoided through open access to grazing.

Other ecological impacts

Increased threat from wild animals

Comments/ specify:

Biodiversity highly increases, local people might be afraid of some animals coming back like jackal or snakes

6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown

downstream flooding


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 Type of climatic change/ extreme 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
Climatological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
drought well
Hydrological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
general (river) flood not known

Other climate-related consequences

Other climate-related consequences
How does the Technology cope with it?
reduced growing period well

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

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

very negative

Long-term returns:

very positive

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


Long-term returns:

very positive

6.5 Adoption of the Technology

  • more than 50%
Of all those who have adopted the Technology, how many have did so spontaneously, i.e. without receiving any material incentives/ payments?
  • 0-10%

100% of land user families have adopted the Technology with external material support
Comments on acceptance with external material support: The system includes the use of a heavy duty tractor and a special plow whose costs are high though difficult to sustain by the local population. All correlated activities are done (or can be done) without external material support
There is a strong trend towards spontaneous adoption of the Technology
The system includes the use of a heavy duty tractor and a special plow whose cost is high though difficult to sustain by the local population. All other activities part of the system are practicable from the population under an initial guidance of someone with specific training. Where the technology is known there is active participation of local people and a strong demand for new interventions

6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
This practice allows for the rapid and efficient treatment of large degraded areas within a short time
The tree and shrub species planted are mainly indigenous and locally adapted species
Through its tillage process the Vallerani system offers the highest degree of efficiency in the first years from processing. Its effects last for a long time so it does not need to be repeated on the same site
The VS does not use any water (except rain) in countries where water is rare and precious. It further avoids the risk of soil salinisation.
The delfino3 can plow strongly degraded land, this makes that local people often ask to work their worse land

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

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
The investment costs for the machinery are extremely high and cannot be covered by single land users or even communities projects must be financed externally
The speed and effectiveness of the Delfino3 plow are its major advantages in the fight against desertification, but can also be its major limitation as to be able to make the best of it, it is necessary to find great availability of land to be reforested or cultivate This is mainly possible related to a large public or business initiative. The spreading "like wildfire" that has characterized the case study was made possible by the presence on the territory of an NGO already active and rooted in the territory for many years and by perseverance, respect and competence of the partner "of the North"
Since great extentions will be processed, a big organisation is needed for all activities (awareness raising, collecting seeds, personnel training, logistics, etc), this must be well organized and should operate already before starting plowing

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

  • field visits, field surveys
  • interviews with land users

7.2 References to available publications

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Conedera, M., N. Bomio-Pacciorini, et al. 2010. Reconstitution des écosystèmes dégradés sahéliens. Bois et Forêts des Tropiques 304(2).

Available from where? Costs?

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Akhtar Ali, Theib Oweis, Atef Abdul Aal, Mohamed Mudabbar, Khaled Zubaidi, and Adriana Bruggeman. 2006. The Vallerani Water Harvesting System. ICARDA Caravan No. 23.

Available from where? Costs?

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