Vallerani Water Harvesting System [Italy]

Vallerani System

technologies_1762 - Italy

Completeness: 51%

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:

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:


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 plow 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, pulled by a heavy-duty tractor. First, contour lines are marked on the slope. The tractor follows a contour line, and the plow makes a furrow about 50 cm deep. A normal plow on flat land excavates a symmetrical furrow, and earth piles up equally on both sides of the furrow. The Vallerani plow 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 can dig a long continuous furrow. Alternatively, as it moves forward, the plow blade can also move up and down (i.e. in and out of the soil), creating a series of small basins, each with a ridge. The size and spacing of basins will depend on the frequency of the up-and-down movement of the plow, which can be adjusted.

When a furrow or pit fills up, the overflow enters the next microcatchment, flows into the next furrow or pit, and so on. Shrubs are planted in pits along the ridges. With moisture readily available, they grow rapidly, providing livestock fodder and helping to conserve the soil. The furrows/basins also slow down runoff flows, preventing erosion.

The Vallerani plow can ‘treat’ 30 ha in a single day, building scores of micro-catchments. For example, the 100-ha Qaryatein site, a highly degraded area at the center of the Syrian traditional grazing ground with 120 mm rainfall per year, was developed in 4 days. Preparation of pits and transplantation of shrubs took another 15 days. Once the project had invested in the tractor and the plow, the remaining cost of implementation – layout, planting shrubs, training farmers to build and maintain the system – was about US$1250, i.e. about $13 per hectare.

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



Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • evenly spread over an area

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

Projects utilizing the Vallerani system up to July 2010:
- Niger (1988)
- Niger (1989-2003)
- Marocco (1989)
- Egypt, Sinai (1988-91)
- Niger (1996)
- Senegal (1997-98)
- Tunisia (1997-98)
- Syria (from 1997)
- Burkina Faso (1997-98)
- Chad (1998)
- Burkina Faso (1999), different areas
- Burkina Faso (2001)
- Burkina Faso (2003-13)
- Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Kenya, Senegal (2004-2006)
- Syria and Jordan (2004-06)
- China (2005)
- Burkina Faso (2004-11), 15 projects

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.1 Main purpose(s) of the Technology

  • improve production
  • reduce, prevent, restore land degradation
  • conserve ecosystem

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



  • Tree and shrub cropping
Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 1

Future (final) land use (after implementation of SLM Technology): Cropland: Ct: Tree and shrub cropping

3.3 Has land use changed due to the implementation of the Technology?

Has land use changed due to the implementation of the Technology?
  • Yes (Please fill out the questions below with regard to the land use before implementation of the Technology)
Land use mixed within the same land unit:


Grazing land

Grazing land

  • Extensive grazing

3.4 Water supply

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

3.5 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • irrigation management (incl. water supply, drainage)

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

agronomic measures

agronomic measures

  • A1: Vegetation/ soil cover
  • A2: Organic matter/ soil fertility
  • A3: Soil surface treatment
  • A4: Subsurface treatment
vegetative measures

vegetative measures

  • V1: Tree and shrub cover
structural measures

structural measures

  • S4: Level ditches, pits
management measures

management measures

  • M1: Change of land use type
  • M5: Control/ change of species composition

Main measures: vegetative measures, structural measures, management measures
Secondary measures: agronomic measures

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
  • Pk: slaking and crusting
biological degradation

biological degradation

  • Bc: reduction of vegetation cover
  • Bl: loss of soil life
water degradation

water degradation

  • Ha: aridification

Main causes of degradation: overgrazing (increasing number of sheeps (Jordan, Syria))
Secondary causes of degradation: crop management (annual, perennial, tree/shrub) (barley cultivation (Jordan))

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):

Main technical functions: control of dispersed runoff: retain / trap, control of dispersed runoff: impede / retard, control of concentrated runoff: retain / trap, control of concentrated runoff: impede / retard, improvement of ground cover, improvement of topsoil structure (compaction), water harvesting / increase water supply, promotion of vegetation species and varieties (quality, eg palatable fodder)

Secondary technical functions: improvement of surface structure (crusting, sealing), improvement of subsoil structure (hardpan), stabilisation of soil (eg by tree roots against land slides), increase in organic matter, increase / maintain water stored in soil, increase of biomass (quantity)

4.3 Establishment activities

Activity Timing (season)
1. layout, planting shrubs, training farmers to build and maintain the system

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 layout, planting shrubs, training farmers to build and maintain the system ha 1.0 13.0 13.0 100.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 13.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology in USD 13.0

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:

Annual rainfall: < 250 mm (less than 200 mm, largerly in a few heavy showers (Syria and Jordan)), 250-500 mm (300-380 mm (Northern China)) and 500-750 mm (550 mm (Northern China, Huanmugou Forest demonstration plots in Keshiketeng Banner))

Agro-climatic zone
  • semi-arid
  • arid

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)

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Market orientation of production system:
  • mixed (subsistence/ commercial)
Level of mechanization:
  • mechanized/ motorized

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

  • field visits, field surveys
  • interviews with land users
When were the data compiled (in the field)?


Links and modules

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