Teff row planting [Ethiopia]

Teff bemesmr mezrat (Amharic)

technologies_1192 - Ethiopia

Completeness: 73%

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:
SLM specialist:

Tefferra Abu

Bahir Dar Agricultural Mechanization and Food Science Research Centre


Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Water and Land Resource Centre (WLRC) - Ethiopia

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:

Teff row planting is an agronomic practice used to place Teff seeds (very small size) in rows of about 20cm apart and at predetermined depth with sufficient cover of firm soil.

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


Teff is a staple crop in Ethiopia and used to make 'Injera'. Teff is commonly planted in broadcast technique with a seed rate of 25-30 kg per hectare. This practice results in high competition for nutrient and water, lodging and low productivity (on average 1 ton/ha). Teff row planting is a newly adopted planting method applied for small size seeds of Teff grain. The row planting technique reduces the seed rate from 25kg/ha to 5-8 kg per hectare, ease the weed management, reduce lodging problem, and lessen plant density and then competition for sunlight, nutrient and water. It is practiced on Teff growing soils except on heavy clay soils or Vertisols where it is difficult to prepare defined rows due to the extreme swelling nature of the soil under near saturation moisture condition. However, under optimum soil moisture (45-50%) it is possible to place seeds in row using manual seed drill in black soils with clay texture. The technique is not perfectly working on stony fields. Seed application is possible using locally available plastic bottles with needle size opening to drop seeds, and newly manufactured seed drill pulled by one person.

Purpose of the Technology: The main purpose to practice Teff row planting is to reduce plant density or population per unit area and thereby increase productivity. It also aim to reduce the lodging problem. Additional advantage of row planting for small grain crop, there is some extent of labor reduction for weeding to some extent.

Establishment / maintenance activities and inputs: Teff row planting technique applies on fine seed bed after 3-5 tillage frequency using local ard plough called maresha pulled by pair of oxen. Once the seed bed is finely prepared, first using local adopted application tools like plastic bottles or hand metering the farmer prepares seed rate of 5-8 kg per hectare mixed with proportional sand (approximately seed to sand ratio of 1:3) - it is difficult to manage uniform application and even distribution by applying the seed alone. He applies along the row and step on to cover the seed and compact it. Similarly, fertilizer is applied in the same way. Second option, after the preparation of fine seed bed, seed application is facilitated using drum type manual seed drill (of weight 21 kg) manufactured by Bahir Dar Agricultural Mechanization and Food Science Research Center (BAMFSRC) having 3 rows of 20cm apart, average depth and width of planting furrow equals to 3.6 cm and 6.4 cm and operating at field capacity of 0.06ha/hr. The drill can apply 3-6 kg/ha seed rate and pulled by one person. At tillering stage urea is top dressed. The technique requires 50-60 person days per hectare to apply seed and fertilizer using hand metering/bottles compared to 2-4 person days per hectare using drum type seed drill. Labor requirement for weeding is also reduced by using row planting than broadcast method.

Natural / human environment: Teff grows on wider environment of altitude range 1800-2600 m above sea level. It performs well with annual rainfall of 750-850 mm and temperature of 10-27 degree Celsius. In fact, there are varieties with short growing period adapted under low rainfall conditions. The row planting technique applies commonly on red clay soils having high water holding capacity. The technique potentially applies on slopes ranging from 0-10% with low stone cover.

Teff row planting using manual seed application or hand metering technique can easily be practiced by households having large family labor. Farm households who used the manual seed drill of drum type should have the capacity to afford the seed drill and able to buy fertilizer. Teff is produced for food and market. It has a good price for sale.

Although teff has high market price in country as well as an emerging export market potential, it is produced annually by subsistence farmers. The land holding is small to meet their family food demands. Their wealth condition ranges poor to average characterized with low agricultural advisory, market and water supply services and inadequate infrastructures. Energy supply is relied on biomass energy. Rural education and health services are improved. Rural unemployment and landless populations are at high rates. In general, the well being of the rural people is under poor condition.

2.3 Photos of the Technology

General remarks regarding photos:

The area covered with Teff row planting referred in this database only considers the area of the pre-scale up activities in the WLRC learning watersheds. The practice is steadily growing over years in teff growing areas of the country in general and Amhara region in particular.

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:

Bahir Dar Zuria, Mecha, Yilmana Densa, and Dembecha

Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • evenly spread over an area
If precise area is not known, indicate approximate area covered:
  • 0.1-1 km2

Boundary points of the Technology area: 10.630850, 37.506877; 11.274962, 37.226641; 11.355705, 37.426134; 11.649907, 37.500604

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:
  • during experiments/ research
Comments (type of project, etc.):

Teff row planting technique was started in research stations 10 to20 years ago. The technique is extended to large number of farmers' field since 2011 through the scale up program of the Ministry of Agriculture. For instance, in 2013 the Amhara region planned to cover 20-30% of teff growing fields.

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

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



  • Annual cropping
  • teff
Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 1

Longest growing period in days: 180Longest growing period from month to month: July to December

Grazing land

Grazing land

  • Livestock is grazing on crop residues

Major land use problems (compiler’s opinion): Major land use problems are soil erosion by water, soil nutrient depletion, gully erosion, steep slope cultivation, land fragmentation, and inappropriate runoff drainage practices like drainage ditches on cultivated fields.

Major land use problems (land users’ perception): Land users commonly specify soil erosion by water, shallow soil depth or soil depletion, low productivity of the soil, scarcity of water, and shortage of grazing land or pasture.

3.4 Water supply

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

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

agronomic measures

agronomic measures

  • A1: Vegetation/ soil cover

Type of agronomic measures: mineral (inorganic) fertilizers

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

physical soil deterioration

physical soil deterioration

  • Pc: compaction
  • Pk: slaking and crusting

Main causes of degradation: soil management (Teff fields are tilled 4-5 times and heavily trampled/compacted by livestock before sowing)

Secondary causes of degradation: Heavy / extreme rainfall (intensity/amounts) (Heavy rainfall cause high runoff and then erosion. It also create sealing effect on the soil surface)

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):

A sketch describing Teff row planting

Location: Aba Gerima, Debre Mewi, Debre Yacob, Gosh Learning. West Gojam/ Amhara Region

Technical knowledge required for field staff / advisors: high (Because of its small seed size, the method requires knowledge of the soil where it performs well and at what depth the seed is placed so that there is high germination and minimizing lodging problem)

Technical knowledge required for land users: high (The land user has to develop capacity and skills on the specific soil and slope conditions where row planting performs well, spacing of rows, depth of furrow and seed quantity per unit area.)

Main technical functions: improvement of surface structure (crusting, sealing), increase of biomass (quantity), Reduction of plant population and competition effect

Secondary technical functions: improvement of topsoil structure (compaction)

Agronomic measure: Row planting
Material/ species: Teff seeds
Quantity/ density: 3-6kg/ha
Remarks: Spacing between rows is 20cm

Mineral (inorganic) fertilizers
Material/ species: Urea and DAP
Quantity/ density: 100 kg/ha
Remarks: for each type of fertilizer


Gizaw Desta, WLRC



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. Drum type row teff seeder (with 3 rows)

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
Equipment machine use pc 1.0 71.0 71.0 100.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 71.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology in USD 3.55

4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. Tillage Annually after onset of rain, 4-5 times
2. Seeding After the soil gets sufficient moisture annually
3. Weeding 2-3 times per season
4. Harvesting Annually at maturity period (Nov-Dec)
5. Threshing Annually during slack period (Dce-Jan)
6. Transporting and storing grain and straw Annually during slack period

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 1.0 318.0 318.0 100.0
Equipment animal traction 1.0 266.0 266.0 100.0
Plant material seeds 1.0 4.5 4.5 100.0
Plant material fertilizer 1.0 150.0 150.0 100.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology 738.5
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology in USD 36.92

Machinery/ tools: Seed drill, local plough, sickle, hoe

The costs are calculated on hectare basis covered by row planting method. The costs apply for February/March 2014

4.7 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

The implementation costs are subject to change due to fluctuation in seasonal labor demand, price of fertilizer, price of iron to construct seed drill, and inflation

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
  • semi-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):
  • medium (loamy, silty)
  • fine/ heavy (clay)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • high (>3%)
  • medium (1-3%)

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

Market orientation of production system:
  • subsistence (self-supply)
  • 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
  • animal traction
  • women
  • men
Indicate other relevant characteristics of the land users:

Difference in the involvement of women and men: Women play a role of applying seeds either using locally made plastic bottles or using the manual drum type seed drill to pull. However, men are involved in both in tillage and seeding practices.

Population density: 100-200 persons/km2

Annual population growth: 2% - 3%

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

Average area of land owned or leased by land users applying the Technology: < 0.5 ha, 0.5-1 ha, 1-2 ha

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

Land ownership:
  • state
  • individual, titled
Water use rights:
  • open access (unorganized)

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

Quantity before SLM:

1.2 ton/ha

Quantity after SLM:

>2.7 ton/ha

fodder production

Quantity before SLM:

2.4 ton/ha

Quantity after SLM:

5 ton/ha

fodder quality


animal production

Income and costs

farm income


Socio-cultural impacts

food security/ self-sufficiency


Improved teff agronomic knowledge

Ecological impacts

Water cycle/ runoff

surface runoff


soil moisture


soil crusting/ sealing


soil compaction

Biodiversity: vegetation, animals

pest/ disease control


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

Climate-related extremes (disasters)

Meteorological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
local rainstorm not well
Climatological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
drought not well

Other climate-related consequences

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

very positive

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

slightly positive

Long-term returns:



Since the new technology (Teff row planting) requires high human labor while placing seeds using hand metering or plastic bottles (locally adopted) to apply the seeds, the land users perceived that the cost of labor is high and can not be affordable using family labor alone. Until they developed experience the return may be considered as slightly positive. However, if the land users adopt to use the manual drum type seed drill the return is very positive and positive as compared to the establishment and recurrent costs, respectively.

6.5 Adoption of the Technology


There is a moderate trend towards spontaneous adoption of the Technology

Comments on adoption trend: The adoption is growing with extensive technical guidance and push from the research and extension services.

6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
There is yield advantage both grain and straw

How can they be sustained / enhanced? The technique needs an improved tool to reduce labor demand. It has to be supported with improved varieties and agronomic practices
It requires small amount of seed
According to some farmers it avoids the usual practice called trampling of seed bed by livestock after sowing the seed
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
Teff row planting can bring 30-50% yield advantage compared to the broadcasting method of planting

How can they be sustained / enhanced? The yield advantage can be sustained by using an integrated or package of Teff production technologies such as improved teff varieties, recommended fertilizer, pesticides and weeding
It reduces three to four times the amount of seed required using the broadcasting method

How can they be sustained / enhanced? This advantage can be enhanced or continue to sustain by using an improved low cost seed drills
The technology eases the weeding practice without damaging the plants

How can they be sustained / enhanced? Appropriate low cost weeders or herbicides can be used to further enhance the technique
The technology reduces damage due to lodging problem along with the use of selected Teff varieties having strong stem

How can they be sustained / enhanced? This can be sustained if supported with further research in the depth of seed placement and genetic improvement

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 implement has relatively low stability to make straight rows. Improving the workmanship will solve the problem
Non uniform seed application if pulling speed not constant Proper seed bed preparation and removal of stones will solve the problem
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
Uniform application and distribution of small amount of seed (as low as 5kg) in rows of 20cm apart become challenging compared to the broadcasting technique This can be overcome by continuous skill development through practice and training
The small number of plant populations or vigorous growth of teff plants favor the shoot fly damage. Application of chemicals will control shootfly

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

7.2 References to available publications

Title, author, year, ISBN:

(Unpublished Report, 2013): Technical Evaluation and Selection of Suitable Teff Seed Drill in Amhara Region, by team of Researchers in ARARI, Bahir Dar Mechanization and Food Science research Center and Lecturers from Bahir Dar University

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Dereje Gorfu and Eshetu Ahmed (unpublished). Crops and Agro-ecological Zones of Ethiopia. Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research

Title, author, year, ISBN:

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