Citrus Orchard with Grass Mulch and Trenches for Soil Erosion Control [Uganda]

Poto mucungwa , magiumu kilum pi gengo kitete

technologies_2826 - Uganda

Completeness: 84%

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)

land user:

Oduor Alex w



Name of project which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Scaling-up SLM practices by smallholder farmers (IFAD)
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Uganda Landcare Network (ULN) - 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:


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:

Integrating black spear grass (Heteropogon Contortus), elephant grass (Pennisetum Purpureum) and trenches into a Citrus orchard of Oranges (Citrus Sinensis) for soil and water erosion control.

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


Farmers in Northern Uganda with an average size of 0.5 acres of land or more grow Oranges (Valencia and Anlin) varieties planted with a spacing of 10 x10 m and integrate them with the use of locally obtained black spear grass and elephant grass on farm as mulching materials and trenches to slow down rainwater runoff while preserving soil moisture for increased production and household income. Citrus orchard of oranges (Citrus sinensis ) with grass mulch and trenches is established on gently sloping land with grasses every year. The trenches are established within the citrus orchard for soil erosion control and environmental and water conservation.To establish this technology the land user will (1) identify an already planted Orchard of Oranges susceptible to soil and water erosion problems, (2) clear the grasses in the garden using a panga, (3) dig the trenches using a hoe, a spade and labour up to a depth of not more than 0.5 centimetres, (4) carry and lay the mulch to the garden using at least 3-4 workers per day with the grass mulch kept at a minimum distance of 20 centimetres away from the plant to allow for air circulation, (5) remove the sediments and re-apply them back to the field once the trenches are filled with the sediments. Mulched grass decomposes over time, improves fertility while trenches allow water harvesting and prevent soil and water erosion. However, the land user needs to be aware that trenches are labour intensive which could be the most expensive input, in addition to the cost of basic construction materials for digging trenches like a hoe, a panga and a spade which are in most cases bought once and used for a longer period of time. The benefits derived from this SLM technology are high in the long run as the technology is suitable for improving soil fertility and controlling soil erosion with the established grass mulch and trenches. Trenches and grass mulch retain water during heavy rains which is utilized by citrus during the dry season. The leaf litter from a citrus garden with minimum tillage when decomposed provides manure to enhance crop production generating increased income from the sale of fruits. However, this technology requires labour for planting, cutting the grass , watering and constructing the trenches which accounts for most of the costs. What is not liked about this technology is that the trenches are not easy to make and are labour-intensive.

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:

Northern Region,Uganda

Further specification of location:

Gulu District

Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • evenly spread over an area
If precise area is not known, indicate approximate area covered:
  • < 0.1 km2 (10 ha)

2.6 Date of implementation

Indicate year 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

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.1 Main purpose(s) of the Technology

  • improve production
  • reduce, prevent, restore land degradation
  • adapt to climate change/ extremes and its impacts
  • create beneficial economic impact

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

Land use mixed within the same land unit:


Specify mixed land use (crops/ grazing/ trees):
  • Agroforestry



  • Tree and shrub cropping
Tree and shrub cropping - Specify crops:
  • citrus
  • Orchard of Oranges
Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 2

Twice a year: April-May and August-November

Grazing land

Grazing land

Forest/ woodlands

Forest/ woodlands

3.4 Water supply

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

3.5 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • agroforestry
  • integrated soil fertility management

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

agronomic measures

agronomic measures

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

vegetative measures

  • V1: Tree and shrub cover

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)

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

The technology prevents soil degradation through litter and decomposition of the mulched grass. The integrated trenches also help retain water for citrus production.

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

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology

Technical specifications (related to technical drawing):

The vertical drawing only contains citrus fruits of oranges that are planted integrated with grass mulch and trenches for soil and water conservation. Mulching should be done up to a depth 0.5 cm with the mulch kept at a minimum of 20 cm away from the plant to allow for air circulation. Digging of the trench is done at a depth of 0.5 metres with the spacing of 10mx10m between the Orange trees.


Proscovia Kaheru



4.2 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

Specify how costs and inputs were calculated:
  • per Technology area
Indicate size and area unit:

1 acre

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. Identify the citrus orchard with spear grass Once before before establishment
2. Cut the spear grass Once before establishment
3. Dig the trenches Once during establishment
4. Carry the grass During establishment
5. Lay the grass During establishment

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 Persons days hired per month persons 10.0 7000.0 70000.0 100.0
Equipment Spades Pieces 5.0 10000.0 50000.0 100.0
Equipment Hoe Pieces 10.0 10000.0 100000.0 100.0
Equipment A -frame Pieces 2.0 15000.0 30000.0 100.0
Equipment Panga Pieces 4.0 7000.0 28000.0 100.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 278000.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology in USD 81.76

4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. Removing soil in the trenches Every time the trench is re-filled with soil

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 Persons days on ddaily basis Persons 4.0 7000.0 28000.0 100.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology 28000.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology in USD 8.24

4.7 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

Labour for digging trenches , cutting and carrying grass is the most expensive input affecting the costs.

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
Specify average annual rainfall (if known), in mm:


Specifications/ comments on rainfall:

The area experiences two rainy seasons per year, in March to April and in September to November, with a dry season around December to March.

Agro-climatic zone
  • sub-humid

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

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)
Soil texture (> 20 cm below surface):
  • fine/ heavy (clay)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • medium (1-3%)

5.4 Water availability and quality

Ground water table:

5-50 m

Availability of surface water:


Water quality (untreated):

poor drinking water (treatment required)

Is water salinity a problem?


Is flooding of the area occurring?


5.5 Biodiversity

Species diversity:
  • medium
Habitat diversity:
  • medium

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

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

Grass mulching is mostly done by both men and women because it is easier work, compared to trenches which are mostly done by men because of their labour intensiveness.

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:
  • communal/ village
  • individual, not titled
Land use rights:
  • communal (organized)
  • individual
Water use rights:
  • communal (organized)
  • individual

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


land management

Comments/ specify:

The technology relies on use of locally obtained grass mulch within the field.

Income and costs

expenses on agricultural inputs

Comments/ specify:

The technology requires inputs like hoes, pangas and spades which are not very expensive.


Comments/ specify:

Requires more labour for digging trenches and carrying grass mulch at the time of establishment.

Socio-cultural impacts

SLM/ land degradation knowledge


Ecological impacts

Water cycle/ runoff

harvesting/ collection of water


surface runoff

Comments/ specify:

Due to mulching grass and trenches


soil moisture


soil cover


soil loss


6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown

water availability

Comments/ specify:

Retained by the trenches and grass much

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 moderately
annual rainfall increase well
seasonal rainfall wet/ rainy season decrease moderately

Climate-related extremes (disasters)

Climatological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
drought moderately
Biological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
epidemic diseases moderately

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

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

slightly negative

Long-term returns:


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


Long-term returns:



In the short run, the costs of digging trenches and carrying grass are more than the benefits. Benefits include that mulched grass improves the soil fertility and trenches allow water harvesting and prevention of soil and water erosion. In the short term, the digging of trenches are the most expensive input.

6.5 Adoption of the Technology

  • 1-10%
Of all those who have adopted the Technology, how many did so spontaneously, i.e. without receiving any material incentives/ payments?
  • 0-10%

6.6 Adaptation

Has the Technology been modified recently to adapt to changing conditions?


6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
The technology is replicable and can be promoted elsewhere by other land users (small and large scale land users).
More benefits in terms of low labour requirements, soil fertility improvement and increased income from the sale of fruits in the long run. A reduction in labour requirements Implies low costs incurred to pay labour.
Trenches and Grass mulch retain water during heavy rains which is utilized by citrus during the dry season. When the leaves of the citrus trees falls down, they decompose form manure that enhances citrus production.
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
The technology is cost effective with high costs of investment at establishment but high benefits in the long run (increased income, soil erosion control and provision of fruits for home consumption and sale).

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?
Labour intensive Use of family or hired labour or even work in groups.
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
The technology is very costly and not readily for small scale land users Link land users to SACCO's where they can obtain credit at low interest rates.
Very difficult for women to adopt when it comes to making trenches Women can hire men to help or form joint working groups with men focusing on trench making as a business.

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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