Calliandra contour hedges [Uganda]

Orugo rwa Calliandra (Rukiga)

technologies_1178 - Uganda

Completeness: 76%

1. General information

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

Name of project which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
The Transboundary Agro-ecosystem Management Project for the Kagera River Basin (GEF-FAO / Kagera TAMP )
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
FAO Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO Food and Agriculture Organization) - Italy
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Kabale District Local Government (Kabale District Local Government) - Uganda

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:

Contour hedges of Calliandra planted on very steep slopes to combat soil erosion by decreasing surface runoff and increasing infiltration.

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


Calliandra Calothyrsus trees are closely planted along the contours on hilly and steep slopes to create natural and effective barriers for reduction of the surface runoff and retention of eroded sediment. Calliandra hedge barriers are a fairly cheap, effective, and sustainable way of controlling soil erosion and landslides on vulnerable steep slopes, especially where trash lines and Napier grass strips were inadequate to mitigate dispersed and concentrated soil and water runoff. Once established, the living barrier is durable with minimal additional maintenance cost to the farmer apart from pruning. The average length of a hedgerow is 50 to 70 m, corresponding to the width of a single terrace. The height varies according to intended use of the mature shoots. To use the stems as stakes, the hedgerow is allowed to reach a height of 4 to 6 m at maturity while a height of 1 to 2 m is sufficient for harvesting foliage as livestock fodder. The hedge barrier reaches its mature, maintenance level after 12 to 18 months.

Purpose of the Technology: The main purpose of the Calliandra hedge barrier is to reduce soil and water runoff.Calliandra is a leguminous shrub with deep roots that provids additional benefits such as soil stabilization and soil fertility improvement through nitrogen fixing. Calliandra is a source of fodder and its flowers attract bees.

Establishment / maintenance activities and inputs: At the beginning of the rainy season, calliandra seedlings are transplanted from the nursery (0.2m to 0.3m height) and planted in a row (0.3m spacing). In the early stages, gap-filling with more seedlings may be necessary as some fail to get established. A mixture of top soil and manure is applied in the spaces between the seedlings and watering is done to improve the seedling survival rate. The distance between rows is 10 to 15 m and depends on the gradient of the slope. Establishment of hedges starts with construction of an earth banked terrace, creating a trench at the lower end of the terrace. Calliandra seedlings are planted on the higher side of the trench. Measuring off 10 m lengths upwards into the terrace, other rows of Calliandra seedlings are planted along the contour in order to achieve the inter-row spacing. Establishment is manual labor intensive and therefore the community, organized as Farmer Field Schools, participates in the planting, one field at a time. Simple tools such as hand hoes, sokajembe (pick-axe) and shovels are used. Maintenance is achieved by weeding, mulching and cutting back. For it to establish well, Calliandra needs to be weeded to minimize competition with weeds for water and nutrients . The weeds also harbour pests. It may also be necessary to mulch the area around each seedling during the dry season. Where mulching is done, the mulch is placed at least 0.05m away from the plant to reduce pest attacks. Calliandra calothyrsus trees are cut back at a height of 2m to between 0.15m and 1m to improve foliage which is used as fodder for livestock. The hedge is then maintained at a height of 1 to 6 m depending on the intended additional uses. The branches removed can be used as fuel wood or stakes, while leaves can be used as fodder.

Natural / human environment: The hedge barrier may be attacked by pests. Scales are white, powdery insects that attack Calliandra stems. Scales can be controlled using washing detergents such as ‘Omo’ dissolved in water and sprinkled on affected plants using leafy branches or a knapsack sprayer. Black ants can seriously damage trees. They can be controlled by spraying. Other likely pests are crickets and grass hoppers which affect seedlings in nurseries, and Armillaria mellea, a fungus that attacks roots of Calliandra plant causing root rot and eventual death. Affected plants are uprooted and burnt. In addition, calliandra is affected by hot, dry weather. During the hot, dry weather, the hedge barrier becomes weak. However during the wet season it sprouts again, and, if well managed, becomes healthy again. A well-maintained hedge barriers can last well over 20 years.

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:

Kabale District


Boundary points of the Technology area: -1.29294, 29.96006
-1.29336, 29.96027
-1.29327, 29.96084

Total area covered by the SLM Technology is 0.03 km2.

The documented case study area is around 3ha
-1.29371, 29.96095
-1.29345, 29.96091

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 projects/ external interventions
Comments (type of project, etc.):

The technology was introduced by ICRAF in 2006 and scaled-up Kagera TAMP project 2 years ago.

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

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



  • Annual cropping
  • Tree and shrub cropping
Annual cropping - Specify crops:
  • fodder crops - other
  • legumes and pulses - beans
Tree and shrub cropping - Specify crops:
  • fodder trees (Calliandra, Leucaena leucocephala, Prosopis, etc.)
Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 2

Longest growing period in days: 120Longest growing period from month to month: February to MaySecond longest growing period in days: 90Second longest growing period from month to month: September to November

Grazing land

Grazing land

Intensive grazing/ fodder production:
  • Improved pastures
  • Livestock is grazing on crop residues

Livestock density (if relevant):

1-10 LU /km2

Major land use problems (compiler’s opinion): The slopes are steep >30% to very steep >60%), with very high precipitation (>1440 mm). Severe surface erosion and landslides may occur at the beginning of the rains, before sufficient vegetation covers the soil. Continuous cultivation with little external inputs and nutrient transfer affects negatively soil fertility and in results reduces crops growth/vegetation cover, leading to erosion on steep slopes.

Major land use problems (land users’ perception): Floods are common in the valleys over the past ten years.

Improved pasture: Diary hiefers,pigs(largewhite and layers)pasture include calliandra,stellia and elephant grass.

Constraints of settlement / urban: floods invade houses

Constraints of infrastructure network (roads, railways, pipe lines, power lines): transport problem

3.4 Water supply

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

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

vegetative measures

vegetative measures

  • V1: Tree and shrub cover

Type of vegetative measures: aligned: -contour

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

Main causes of degradation: soil management (Poor vegetative cover/no trees to bind soil particles.), Heavy / extreme rainfall (intensity/amounts) (Rainfall intensifying in september and April.), other natural causes (avalanches, volcanic eruptions, mud flows, highly susceptible natural resources, extreme topography, etc.) specify (steep slopes (extreme topography)), population pressure (Population increase/no of people increased per sq km), poverty / wealth (lack of resources to implement known natural resources degradation mitigation measures)

Secondary causes of degradation: 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:
  • prevent land degradation
  • reduce land degradation

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

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology

Technical specifications (related to technical drawing):

Calliandra trees are planted in rows along the contour. Cutting back is done between 12 and 18 months to a height of 0.5 m. The trees are allowed to grow to between 1 and 6 m and the hedge is maintained at that height. Gap-filling, weeding and trimming are critical for a productive hedge.

Location: Bukoora, Kabale. Kabale/Uganda

Technical knowledge required for field staff / advisors: moderate (Such knowledge as is required to manage the Calliandra nursery, transplant and maintain the plants especially until the first coppice.)

Technical knowledge required for land users: moderate (The land user is responsible for maintaining the technology on his or her land and a good hedge requires diligence)

Main technical functions: control of dispersed runoff: impede / retard, control of concentrated runoff: impede / retard, improvement of ground cover, improvement of topsoil structure (compaction), stabilisation of soil (eg by tree roots against land slides), increase in nutrient availability (supply, recycling,…)

Secondary technical functions: control of raindrop splash, reduction of slope angle, reduction of slope length, increase of infiltration, increase of groundwater level / recharge of groundwater, sediment retention / trapping, sediment harvesting, increase of biomass (quantity)

Aligned: -contour
Vegetative material: T : trees / shrubs
Number of plants per (ha): 670 to 720
Spacing between rows / strips / blocks (m): 10
Vertical interval within rows / strips / blocks (m): 0.4
Width within rows / strips / blocks (m): 0.7

Trees/ shrubs species: Calliandra was planted

Fruit trees / shrubs species: n/a

Perennial crops species: n/a

Grass species: n/a

Other species: n/a

Slope (which determines the spacing indicated above): 40%

If the original slope has changed as a result of the Technology, the slope today is (see figure below): n/a%

Gradient along the rows / strips: <3%


Byonabye, Prossy, Kagera TAMP, Kabale, Uganda



4.2 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

other/ national currency (specify):


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


Indicate average wage cost of hired labour per day:


4.3 Establishment activities

Activity Timing (season)
1. Establishment of Calliandra nursery Dry season
2. Plantation of Calliandra seedling on the higher side of the trench Wet season
3. Weeding

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 1.0 44.6 44.6 100.0
Equipment tools 1.0 16.2 16.2 100.0
Plant material seedlings 1.0 30.4 30.4 100.0
Plant material seeds 1.0 9.6 9.6 100.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 100.8
Total costs for establishment of the Technology in USD 0.04

Duration of establishment phase: 18 month(s)

4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. Prunning and triming the hedge barriers wet/dry season

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 1.0 20.8 20.8 100.0
Equipment tools 1.0 16.2 16.2 100.0
Plant material seedlings 1.0 1.0 1.0 100.0
Other 100.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology 38.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology in USD 0.01

Machinery/ tools: I panga,1 watering can, 1hoe.

The cost assesment above refers to steep slopes.

4.7 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

The cost of seedlings (0.20 US$ each) and their transport up along steep slopes are the key factors affecting costs and hindering spontaneous adoption of the technology. Otherwise, the technology is acceptable to farmers as benefits are easily visible in the short run.

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
Agro-climatic zone
  • sub-humid

Thermal climate class: tropics. at the Equator

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)
  • medium (loamy, silty)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • medium (1-3%)
  • low (<1%)

5.4 Water availability and quality

Ground water table:

> 50 m

Availability of surface water:

poor/ none

5.5 Biodiversity

Species diversity:
  • low

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Market orientation of production system:
  • mixed (subsistence/ commercial)
Off-farm income:
  • less than 10% of all income
Relative level of wealth:
  • poor
  • average
Individuals or groups:
  • individual/ household
Level of mechanization:
  • manual work
  • women
  • men
Indicate other relevant characteristics of the land users:

Difference in the involvement of women and men: Maintenance such as pruning trimming is mostly done by the men, but the other activities are done by both men and women.
Population density: 200-500 persons/km2
Annual population growth: 2% - 3%; 3%
5% of the land users are rich and own 40% of the land.
30% of the land users are average wealthy and own 30% of the land (meets basic needs/necesities).
45% of the land users are poor and own 20% of the land.
20% of the land users are poor and own 10% of the land.

Off-farm income specification: Crop and animal production greatly increased for land users implementing conservation measures , compared to those who do not implement.

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)?
  • small-scale

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

Land ownership:
  • individual, not titled
Land use rights:
  • individual

The land belongs to an individual with no title but has all the rights over it.

5.9 Access to services and infrastructure

  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
technical assistance:
  • 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
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown

Socio-economic impacts


crop production

Quantity before SLM:


Quantity after SLM:


fodder quality

Quantity before SLM:


Quantity after SLM:


animal production

Quantity before SLM:


Quantity after SLM:


production area

Income and costs

farm income

Quantity before SLM:

1.5 million

Quantity after SLM:


Socio-cultural impacts

food security/ self-sufficiency


SLM/ land degradation knowledge

Quantity before SLM:


Quantity after SLM:


conflict mitigation


Ecological impacts

Water cycle/ runoff

surface runoff


soil moisture


soil cover


soil loss


nutrient cycling/ recharge

Biodiversity: vegetation, animals

biomass/ above ground C


plant diversity

Other ecological impacts

increased pests

6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown

downstream flooding


downstream siltation


damage on neighbours' fields

Quantity before SLM:


Quantity after SLM:


damage on public/ private infrastructure

Quantity before SLM:


Quantity after SLM:


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
Climatological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
drought well
Hydrological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
general (river) flood well

Other climate-related consequences

Other climate-related consequences
How does the Technology cope with it?
reduced growing period not known

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

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


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:



Benefits are high compared to establishment and maintenance cost

6.5 Adoption of the Technology


88% of land user families have adopted the Technology with external material support

45 land user families have adopted the Technology with external material support

12% of land user families have adopted the Technology without any external material support

6 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 technology is appreciated by most farmers but adoption is limited by cost of seedlings and transportation up steep slopes

6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
Calliandra binds the soil, thus reduces landslides.

How can they be sustained / enhanced? It should be maintained through proper management
Adds scenic beauty on a plot

How can they be sustained / enhanced? By regular trimming
Calliandra is good and attractive to bees

How can they be sustained / enhanced? Leave every second or third row to flower
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
It is easy to establish and maintain

How can they be sustained / enhanced? Promote education campaign and spread information
It has helped to increase crop and animal production

How can they be sustained / enhanced? By proper management and not overgrazing animals
Stabilize the soil and strenghtening resistance to intensive rainfall and fast runoff

How can they be sustained / enhanced? Promote technology through increased community mobilization
Very effective to reduce soil erosion

How can they be sustained / enhanced? Combine with other practicies e.g. mulching

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 hedge barrier is ineffective before 12 months Combine with trash lines before establishment
Technology harbors nesting birds Ensure regular trimming of Calliandra to reasonable height and use scarecrows
Needs at least 2 seasons to establish Apply manure and water to the seedlings to ensure accelerated growth
May reduce the amount of sunlight available to young crops if left untrimmed Trim regularly
Extra cost in protecting from damage by livestock Inter-crop with other fodder species to act as alternative fodder for livestock

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

7.2 References to available publications

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Kagera TAMP Project website

Available from where? Costs?

Links and modules

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