Dyke and Ditch multi-cropping system [Bangladesh]

Kandhi-Berh chas poddhoti

technologies_4227 - Bangladesh

Completeness: 92%

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:

Howlader Abdus Sattar


land user:

Howlader Najrul Islam


land user:

Faruk Omaor


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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:

Landform changes to dyke and ditch to introduce multiple crops.

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


Marshy land covers most of the area of southern Bangladesh in the estuaries of the big rivers, including Swarupkathi Upazila. This area typically floods for more than 9 months, is perennially wet, and is covered by Hogla (Typha), Reed plant, and weeds. Crop cultivation has been difficult due to unfavourable drainage conditions. Local people previously cultivated paddy only in small areas by clearing the swamp vegetation. Now, however, some of the marshy land has been converted to a dyke and ditch multi-cropping system, which has been practiced for the last 200 years. Through this practice, the marshlands have provided valuable harvests for generations and currently yield vegetables, fruits, timber and fishes for farmers and that support local livelihoods. The marshland ecosystem, that converted to terrestrial ecosystem now support habitat for a wide range of flora and fauna. The technology reduces the pressure on arable land through construction of dykes which also plays a crucial role in flood mitigation. The continuous series of dykes and ditches with diverse vegetation increases the aesthetic beauty of the region and conserve biodiversity as well.
The dykes are elevated beds of soil constructed to 4-6 feet height and 12-14 feet width. The dykes are constructed with soils collected from ditches and on the top of the bed water hyacinth composed are used. Along with increasing fertility, water hyacinth compost also increases the soil holding capacity of the dykes. Though water hyacinth is normally one of the most dangerous invasive species, it can be converted to useful resource by this system. The ditches are 10-11 feet wide canals and deep enough for fish culture. According to size of land owned by farmer the length of each dyke and ditch varies. All the ditches are interconnected with a regular flow of water. Once the dyke preparation is complete, crops including brinjal (eggplant), turnip, red amaranth, coriander, spinach, cowpea, chili, cornflower, tomato, papaya are planted. On the bed, 1 foot wide drain is constructed after every 3 feet intervals. Creepers and vines are planted on sticks along the sides of the dyke to prevent erosion. Trellis crops like bottle gourd, bitter gourd, ash gourd, sweet gourd, cucumber, etc. are cultivated in between two dykes and over the ditches. Guava, Hog plum, banana, lemon, pineapples and other fruit trees planted are in the bed after three years of establishment. Timber trees are also introduced in the dykes over time though some beds are only managed for crop cultivation. Through this way, they establish a multi-crop and agro-forestry system. In the ditches, farmers cultivate local fish varieties that generate extra income for them. Water hyacinth also managed in the ditch that used as fertilizer in the bed. Farmer add soil to the dyke from the ditches once in every year to raise the dyke and make it stable. The local community also developed a large floating market of guava, which now attracts tourism in this area and facilitates alternate income.
The initial investment of establishing dyke and ditch technology is expensive due to huge labour requirement for dyke preparation and often difficult for farmers to manage the required money. Usually they take loans from neighbours or micro credit organizations with high interest to initiate the work. Almost 80% of the households are involved with micro credits in Swarupkathi because loans from the national bank is much more time-consuming. If the farmers can get easier access to loan and marketing facilities from the government, they will benefit more from the dyke and ditch system.

2.3 Photos of the Technology

General remarks regarding photos:

These are the photos of 1st year of dyke and ditch cropping system; vegetables will be replaced eventually by Guava/Hog Plum etc.

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



Region/ State/ Province:

Barishal Division

Further specification of location:

Atghor Kuriana, Swarupkathi, Pirojpur

Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • evenly spread over an area
If precise area is not known, indicate approximate area covered:
  • 100-1,000 km2
Is/are the technology site(s) located in a permanently protected area?


2.6 Date of implementation

If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date:
  • more than 50 years ago (traditional)

2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • as part of a traditional system (> 50 years)
Comments (type of project, etc.):

This practice spread out through local community.

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.1 Main purpose(s) of the Technology

  • improve production
  • reduce, prevent, restore land degradation
  • reduce risk of disasters
  • 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



  • Annual cropping
  • Perennial (non-woody) cropping
  • Tree and shrub cropping
Annual cropping - Specify crops:
  • root/tuber crops - potatoes
  • vegetables - leafy vegetables (salads, cabbage, spinach, other)
  • vegetables - melon, pumpkin, squash or gourd
Perennial (non-woody) cropping - Specify crops:
  • banana/plantain/abaca
  • pineapple
  • sugar cane
Tree and shrub cropping - Specify crops:
  • fruits, other
  • mango, mangosteen, guava
  • papaya
Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 3
Is intercropping practiced?


If yes, specify which crops are intercropped:

Radish, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chili, Indian Spinach, Red amaranth, Coriander, Potato, Taro, Bottle gourd, Sweet gourd, Brinjal, Yard long bean, Bitter gourd etc. mixed with Sugarcane, Guava, Hog plum, Coconut, Betel nut. In the ditches between the horticultural dykes, some farmers also practice fish farming with local fish verities.

Is crop rotation practiced?



As closest cropping system agroforestry is selected. The crop composition is seasonal vegetables followed by horticulture crops.

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:




  • Annual cropping
Annual cropping - Specify crops:
  • cereals - rice (wetland)
Is intercropping practiced?


Is crop rotation practiced?


3.4 Water supply

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

Manual irrigation practiced as supplementary.

3.5 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • agroforestry
  • integrated soil fertility management
  • wetland protection/ management
  • Agri-horticulture

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

agronomic measures

agronomic measures

  • A2: Organic matter/ soil fertility
structural measures

structural measures

  • S11: Others
management measures

management measures

  • M1: Change of land use type

Ditch and dyke establishment to avoid prolonged water logging situation.

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

water degradation

water degradation

  • Hs: change in quantity of surface water

Prolonged water logging was the problem of this area. Through establishment of ditch and dyke system the community overcome the situation and is now growing their crops year round.

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

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

Through dyke and ditch method, crop production was increased tough total cropping area was decreased due to preparation of ditch

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

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology

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Technical specifications (related to technical drawing):

Width of dyke: 12-14 ft, (3.6m-4m)
Height of dyke: 3-4 ft from water surface (1-1.2m)
Width of ditch: 10-11 ft (3-3.4m)
Width of drain in bed: 1 ft (30cm)
Interval of drain in bed: 3 ft (1m)


Nazrin Sultana



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:

BDT 500

4.3 Establishment activities

Activity Timing (season)
1. Earth work (dyke preparation, bed leveling with water hyacinth compost, drain preparation on bed) December to February
2. Seasonal/annual planting of crops and vegetables Seasonal
3. Planting of horticultural tree and shrub species after 2-3 years of crop cultivation Jun-July

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 Earth work (dyke preparation, bed leveling with water hyacinth compost, drain preparation on bed) person-days 200.0 500.0 100000.0 100.0
Labour Cultivation person-day 100.0 500.0 50000.0 100.0
Labour Weeding person-day 60.0 500.0 30000.0 100.0
Equipment Spade pieces 2.0 250.0 500.0 100.0
Equipment Weeder (manual weeding tool) pieces 2.0 150.0 300.0 100.0
Equipment Bucket pieces 2.0 150.0 300.0 100.0
Equipment Net (to support trellis crops cultivation in between dykes)) kg 20.0 60.0 1200.0 100.0
Equipment Bamboo sticks (to support the nets and creepers vegetable) pieces 200.0 2.0 400.0 100.0
Plant material Seeds (needed over first 2-3 years of establishment) kg 0.5 2000.0 1000.0 100.0
Plant material Seedling (needed over first 2-3 years of establishment) pieces 300.0 20.0 6000.0 100.0
Fertilizers and biocides T.S.P kg 66.0 22.0 1452.0 100.0
Fertilizers and biocides Urea kg 66.0 16.0 1056.0 100.0
Fertilizers and biocides MoP kg 22.0 15.0 330.0 100.0
Fertilizers and biocides Pesticides litre 1.0 5000.0 5000.0 100.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 197538.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology in USD 2351.64

Earth work is the prime establishment cost of this technology and others are the regular cropping cost

4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. Dyke management (add soil and water hyacinth to the dyke, bed leveling, drainage system on bed) March-April

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 Dyke management (add soil and water hyacinth to the dyke, bed leveling, drainage system on bed) person-days 66.0 500.0 33000.0 100.0
Equipment Spade pieces 2.0 250.0 500.0 100.0
Equipment Bucket pieces 2.0 150.0 300.0 100.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology 33800.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology in USD 402.38

4.7 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

Labor cost

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:


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:
  • not relevant

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):
  • fine/ heavy (clay)
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 m

Availability of surface water:


Water quality (untreated):

for agricultural use only (irrigation)

Water quality refers to:

surface 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:
  • 10-50% of all income
Relative level of wealth:
  • poor
Individuals or groups:
  • individual/ household
Level of mechanization:
  • manual work
  • women
  • men
Age of land users:
  • 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
  • medium-scale

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

Land ownership:
  • individual, not titled
  • individual, titled
Land use rights:
  • leased
  • individual
Water use rights:
  • open access (unorganized)
Are land use rights based on a traditional legal system?



Law of inheritance

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


product diversity


production area


land management

Income and costs

expenses on agricultural inputs


farm income


diversity of income sources


economic disparities

Comments/ specify:

economic disparities decreased as marginal and landless farmers get the opportunity to grow crops on dykes and fish in ditches



Socio-cultural impacts

food security/ self-sufficiency


health situation

Comments/ specify:

through ditch and dyke cultivation technique local community get access to vegetable and fish source

cultural opportunities


recreational opportunities


community institutions

Comments/ specify:

local farmers are now forming groups and working together to transport their crops to market

SLM/ land degradation knowledge


situation of socially and economically disadvantaged groups

Comments/ specify:

landless farmers get opportunity to work as paid labor

Ecological impacts

Water cycle/ runoff


Comments/ specify:

evaporation decreased due to the presence of vegetation in dykes


soil moisture

Comments/ specify:

Soil moisture decreased in dykes and before it was too swampy for agricultural activities

soil cover


soil loss


soil accumulation


nutrient cycling/ recharge


soil organic matter/ below ground C

Biodiversity: vegetation, animals

Vegetation cover


biomass/ above ground C


plant diversity


beneficial species


habitat diversity


pest/ disease control

Climate and disaster risk reduction

flood impacts


emission of carbon and greenhouse gases


wind velocity




6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown

impact of greenhouse gases


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

Climate-related extremes (disasters)

Meteorological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
tropical storm well
Hydrological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
general (river) flood very well

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

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

slightly positive

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

  • > 50%
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
1. Introduction of multi crops.
2. Maintaining daily households nutrition needs.
3. Support natural fish catching.
4. Improve economic condition of local communities.
5. Reduce risk of crop failure.
6. Improved access to health and education.
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
Socio-economic condition improved
Improved soil nutrient balance
Increase crop intensity and diversity
Reduce green house gas emission
Improved biodiversity

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?
Establishment cost is high Easy loan facilities by government
Unavailability of labor Standard payment for labor
Lack of post harvest processing/storage facility Government initiatives to establish processing and store house
Late harvesting of crops and eventually low price for sale Use high yielding and early crop varieties
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
Absence of perfect market Through government initiative facilitate a market place
Grazing hampers the stand at the initial stage Community awareness

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

  • field visits, field surveys

Number of informants: 12

  • interviews with land users

Number of informants: 10

  • interviews with SLM specialists/ experts

Number of informants: 02

When were the data compiled (in the field)?


7.2 References to available publications

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Rahman, M. (2014). Framing Ecosystem-based Adaptation to Climate Change: Applicability in the Coast of Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh: IUCN, x+43pp.

Available from where? Costs?

Mangrove for Future, Bangladesh.

7.3 Links to relevant online information

Title/ description:

Ditch-and-dyke schemes for year-round cultivation


7.4 General comments

The WOCAT questionnaire covers all the technical aspect of this practice.

Links and modules

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