Conservation Farming Basins In Annual Crops For Water Conservation [Uganda]

Tongo basin

technologies_3307 - Uganda

Completeness: 86%

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:
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{'additional_translations': {}, 'value': 6, 'label': 'Name of project which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)', 'text': 'Scaling-up SLM practices by smallholder farmers (IFAD)', 'template': 'raw'} {'additional_translations': {}, 'value': 264, 'label': 'Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)', 'text': 'Makerere University (Makerere University) - Uganda', 'template': 'raw'}

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?


1.5 Reference to Questionnaire(s) on SLM Approaches (documented using WOCAT)

Peer farmers as a village resource person for scaling Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) Practices

Peer farmers as a village resource person for … [Uganda]

A prosocial behavior approach, where a peer farmer identified by other local farmers is trained on a technology and then used as a trainer for the fellow farmers (farmer group or neighbors).

  • Compiler: Sunday Balla Amale

2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

CF basins are constructed in the field to act as water storage containers. Water is conserved within the basins and plants can survive with this conserved water during periods of little rainfall and dry spells.

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


Farmers in Northern Uganda are observing changes in weather patterns. Rainfall has become unpredictable and unreliable for sustainable farming This forces farmers to adapt to these changes using available conservation farming technologies such as Conservation Farming (CF) basins.
CF basins are water conservation structures constructed in the garden during dry seasons. The basins store rainwater during rainy seasons and ensure water availability for plants during periods of little or no rainfall.

During construction of the basins, plant residues in the field are slashed and retained within the garden. A common hoe is used to excavate rectangular holes of about 30cm x 20cm, having a depth of 15cm. The top soil is put on one side of the basin while the subsoil is put on the other side. When the basin is ready, the top soil is put back into the hole to cover about half of the total basin depth. The basin is now ready for planting at the onset of rains. The spacing between basins depends on the type of crop to be planted. For groundnuts (Arachis hypogaea) it's 30cm x 30cm. The number of seeds per hole (seed rate) also depends on the crop. For maize, 3 plants per hole are to be planted, for groundnut, 6-8 plants per hole and for beans 6-8 plants per hole.

The basins are particularly important during critical growth periods such as germination, flowering and fruit seting if a sudden drought occurs. The basins conserve water, reduce surface runoff and support extended crop growth during dry seasons. After harvesting crop residues are put back into the basin to decompose so to build up humus in to basin.

Farmers who practice this technology have reported healthy crop growth and reduced risk of crop failure. However, construction of CF basins is labour intensive because good basins need to be constructed in the dry season when the soil is hard. However, this challenge is outweighed by the fact that basins only need to be constructed once every 3-4 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:

Nwoya District

Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • applied at specific points/ concentrated on a small area

Location where the CF basin technology was implemented

2.6 Date of implementation

Indicate year of implementation:


2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • during experiments/ research
Comments (type of project, etc.):

Funded through CIAT (International Center for Tropical Agriculture)

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



  • Annual cropping
Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 2

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

  • water harvesting
  • surface water management (spring, river, lakes, sea)

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

agronomic measures

agronomic measures

  • A2: Organic matter/ soil fertility
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
soil erosion by wind

soil erosion by wind

  • Et: loss of topsoil
biological degradation

biological degradation

  • Bl: loss of soil life
water degradation

water degradation

  • Hs: change in quantity of surface water

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
  • reduce land degradation
  • adapt to land degradation

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

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology

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Sunday Balla



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:


other/ national currency (specify):

Uganda Shillings

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. Slashing the field (clearence) dry season
2. Constructing basins dry season
3. Planting crops onset of rains

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 Slashing person days 15.0 5000.0 75000.0 100.0
Labour Construction of basins person days 30.0 3000.0 90000.0 100.0
Labour Planting person days 15.0 5000.0 75000.0 100.0
Equipment CF hoe no 5.0 12000.0 60000.0 100.0
Equipment Slashers no 5.0 6000.0 30000.0 100.0
Plant material Seeds kg 30.0 5000.0 150000.0 100.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 480000.0

4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. Clearing soil from basins 3 years of establishment

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 person days 15.0 3000.0 45000.0 100.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology 45000.0

4.7 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

Labour for digging during establishment and clearing soil from basins during maintenance

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

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):

good drinking water

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:
  • poor
Individuals or groups:
  • individual/ household
Level of mechanization:
  • manual work
  • animal traction
  • women
  • men
Age of land users:
  • youth
  • middle-aged

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
  • individual, titled
Land use rights:
  • communal (organized)
  • individual
Water use rights:
  • 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


crop production


crop quality


risk of production failure


land management

Water availability and quality

demand for irrigation water

Comments/ specify:

Water conserved in basins

6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown

water availability


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

Climate-related extremes (disasters)

Climatological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
drought very well

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:

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

  • 1-10%
Of all those who have adopted the Technology, how many did so spontaneously, i.e. without receiving any material incentives/ payments?
  • 91-100%

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
Constructed once every 3-4 years
Does not require technical skills or sophisticated equipment to construct the basins
Reduced chances of crop failures due to droughts
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
Water storage efficiency is high
Plant roots can easily access water from the soil
Crop residues have additional functions to retain soil moisture

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?
Difficult to construct the basins Use a CF hoe

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

  • interviews with land users


  • interviews with SLM specialists/ experts


  • compilation from reports and other existing documentation


When were the data compiled (in the field)?


Links and modules

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