Newly developed innovative technologies for soil and water conservation

FFTC Annual Report 2005 Finding solutions to secure Asia's soil and water resources for sustainable agricultural production Newly developed innovati...
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FFTC Annual Report 2005

Finding solutions to secure Asia's soil and water resources for sustainable agricultural production

Newly developed innovative technologies for soil and water conservation SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION technologies and approaches are critical factors toward the sustainable use of the natural resource base for agriculture in Asia. It is estimated that about 80 percent of all available water supply in the region is mainly used for irrigation. Increasing withdrawals of water for food production is one of the main causes of water scarcity, which several countries are facing today. Meanwhile, soil erosion continuously places many parts of the world in a critical situation. Estimates show that about 35 percent of the earth's total land surface is significantly degraded. Low crop productivity is also traced to low soil fertility levels. The widespread concern over the degradation of soil and water resources has led to great efforts by governments and scientists in the Asian region to develop technologies appropriate for small-scale farmers. These scientific solutions to preserve and conserve the natural resource base for agriculture involves strategies that cut across social, environmental, and political boundaries. However, while technologies are abundant, their relevance and effectiveness still very much depend on whether the major needs and pressing concerns facing our smallscale farmers are dealt with. Most importantly, while some developed countries have gained technological advancement in soil and water conservation, even using information technology (IT) following modern consumer-oriented agriculture, other developing countries have yet to achieve appropriate measures in maximizing soil and water supply capacities to increase their agricultural produce. Innovative techniques or solutions must be extended to create learning and sharing environments, and to improve the transfer of scientific and technological advancement to the users. Hence, this workshop proved to be timely and fitting, inasmuch as there are now sufficient information, knowledge, and experiences to share among countries in the region on the conservation of soil and water resources in the agricultural environments. It served as a venue to extend and disseminate these new innovative technologies, which are deemed vital in improving agricultural production, providing better livelihood opportunities to resource-poor farmers, and ameliorating or preventing further degradation of the natural resource base for agriculture.

Scientific and technological trends in soil and water conservation In reducing water use and water losses, on-site approaches to conservation include retention of rainfall by decreasing runoff and increasing infiltration under rainfed culture, and reducing irrigation water applications under irrigated culture. Historical approaches to conserving water in irrigation practices include reducing losses during conveyance of water from the source to irrigated area, such as canal leakage and evaporation, and pipe leakage. More recent technologies like micro-irrigation systems have been developed. In the US, a recent innovation under paddy rice culture is the multiple-inlet irrigation. Irrigation-induced erosion has been fairly studied for furrow irrigation, and one method to reduce this is through the injection of polyacrylamide (PAM) in the irrigation



FFTC Annual Report 2005

water. PAM has been proven to also improve infiltration rates for soils, and therefore reduce nutrient or other soluble chemical loss. Recently, new information has been gathered regarding the action and efficacy of buffers and other conservation practices to prevent nutrient removals. An emerging concept in soil and water conservation is the "precision agriculture approach to conservation" or "precision conservation". Two approaches were described namely: the quantitative approach that assesses the needs for spatial conservation measures, and the consensusbased approach that evaluates spatial profitability, water, and soil quality for a research field. Some critical points to consider in developing soil and water conservation technologies include: economic productivity being an important factor in conservation; that spatial variation is a key to targeting vulnerable areas at all scales; and that complex problems across landscapes, across farming enterprises, and across conflicting objectives require integrated, multidisciplinary team of expertise.

Innovative technologies for soil and water conservation management Soil conservation management. Increasing land pressure to improve the socioeconomic standard of the people, decreasing availability of arable land, and government support to development of peatland have been encouraged in some countries. Studies showed that some of the requirements for land clearing include: comparisons on techniques for land clearing and cost estimates; description of the amount of woody debris based on various parameters — measured and calculated weight and volume of biomass; and effects of clearing on wood decomposition process and surface subsidence, plant/arthropod/microbial/fish diversity, carbon dioxide flux, and water pollution. Other soil conservation studies in Asia include: tree crops for steep land conservation; soil erosion measurement and control techniques and identification of controllable and non-controllable factors; vegetation engineering methods for erosion control and slope stabilization such as staking, wattling, spray seeding with net placement, cave vegetation, and artificial scattering seeding. Water conservation management. Effective water management for agriculture basically refers to the suitability of various irrigation methods based on such factors as natural conditions, type of crop, type of technologies available, previous experiences in irrigation, labor inputs, costs and benefit estimates, among many others.

In many Asian countries, addressing the problems brought about by water pollution sources is also a major concern. Agricultural production, which is divided generally into crop production and animal production, has accelerated soil and water pollution because of intensive use of fertilizer and agricultural chemicals for higher productivity. To address this problem, the pollution contribution of livestock and crop production areas must be calculated, and environment-friendly practices must be assessed and adopted.

New approaches focusing on socio-economic dimensions Soil and water conservation not only entails understanding the biophysical aspects of soil and water, but also the socio-economic dimensions surrounding the generation, validation and utilization of the technologies and approaches. This is necessary considering the complexity of soil and water processes and the extent of problems at hand. In some Asian countries, governments play a big role in alleviating the plight of the resource-poor farmers as well as in reducing the pressure on the upland soil resources. Some of the approaches introduced with due consideration to socioeconomic factors include: the Conservation Farming Village or Communities (CFV/CFC), a modality for promoting soil and water conservation technologies; and the New Theory Farming (NTF) System Application on the National Water Grid System Plan. The Philippines' CFV/CFC is a community resource-based management/ integrated community development approach, which aims to contribute to the attainment of higher production and income, and addresses the concerns on land degradation in the sloping areas. Meanwhile, Thailand's New Theory Farming (NTF) System Application on the National Water Grid System Plan aims to improve local water shortage situation by converting 30 percent of farm land into farm ponds. This is expected to solve the drought problem facing about 5.65 million households of farmers, increasing their accessibility to clean water, and increasing income generation from agriculture. Technologies for soil and water conservation must emphasize the benefits of better management to small-scale farmers and other less-privileged groups who are directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture for their livelihood . Development workers must always determine "who wins and who loses" in the process by considering: proper/accu-

FFTC Annual Report 2005

Lysimeter Facilities of NIAST, RDA, Korea Participants visit the Lysimeter facilities of the National Institute for Agricultural Science and Technology (NIAST), RDA, Korea, intended for the formulation of a soil loss equation for Korea’s condition, and the study of water and nutrient balance on hilly upland.

rate zoning methods; appropriate identification of problems; and acceptability of technologies to be used.

Conclusions and recommendations Scientific and technological solutions beneficial to small-scale farmers. Conservation and sustainable utilization of soil and water are essential in safeguarding agricultural food production in Asia, as well as in improving the economic conditions of small-scale farmers in the region. Under the principle of sustainable agriculture, farming must not in any way contribute to the degradation of the environment, particularly of soil and water resources. To enable small-scale farmers to contribute to the development of a sustainable agricultural environment in the region, conservation technologies should be easily accessible, available, low-cost and simple to apply. In developing countries, efforts must be geared toward technologies that can help alleviate the plight of the resource-poor upland and lowland farmers, whose desire to earn a better living for the household often outweighs the need to conserve resources. Exchange and sharing of scientific information. Technological interests in conserving soil and water resources among the participating countries in the workshop differ significanlty, due primarily to differences in the geographical and meteorological conditions, and the stage of economic development in each country. There may not be a unique interest and solution which is applicable to all nations.

However, in better managing soil and water resources for agriculture, each country has much to gain in engaging in mutually benefiting collaborative projects with other countries, where exchanges of knowledge, technologies and information could be effected. In addition, environmental problems of global extent such as eutrophication and global warming could be jointly addressed and resources could be pooled together to lessen the transaction costs of development. Toward this end, the use of advanced information technologies such as the geographic information system (GIS) is now becoming a necessity. The system can provide information for soil management, fertilization, crop selection and land use recommendations according to soil physicochemical properties, among others. This, as well as a sound database on many aspects of soil and water conservation for proper decision-making and responsive planning, should be a long-term target in any country. Policy initiatives. Other recommendations during the workshop focus on the need for policy initiatives, particularly in improving water management, such as quantification of environmental impacts of water use in paddy field, water pricing for agricultural use, and other institutional and development aspects. With water



FFTC Annual Report 2005


and soil resources becoming more and more limited, new policies for agriculture, new institutions, technologies and better management options will be needed to sustain agricultural production. In other countries, participatory integrated approaches, such as socio-economic and extension programs involving nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), are contributing to the conservation of soil and water resources in farming villages. Community participation through meetings, consultations, regular reporting, socioeconomic surveys, and welldefined rules and regulations enhanced adoption of soil and water conservation measures. Technology promotion, as well as continuous capacity building through various information, education and communication media and strategies were also found effective in sustaining community participation and farmers' involvement in soil and water conservation projects. Systematic management approach. Finally, it is fundamental to set up a systematic management approach for soil and water conservation in each country. This approach must be able to integrate technological innovations with policy initiatives and interdisciplinary, socioeconomic and participatory approaches to sustain the natural resource base for agriculture, particularly soil and water. This, in effect, will lead to enhanced food production, while improving the overall sustainability of rural livelihoods and economies.

International Workshop on Newly Developed Innovative Technologies for Soil and Water Conservation Held at the International Technical Cooperation Center (ITCC) Conference Hall, RDA, Suwon, Korea on May 31 - June 03 No. of countries participating: 9 (Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan ROC, Thailand, USA, and Vietnam) No. of papers presented: 14 No. of participants: 100 (official participants and observers) Co-sponsor: Rural Development Administration (RDA), Suwon, Korea List of Papers Keynote paper 1. Newly Developed Technologies for Soil and Water Conservation - Edward John Sadler, USDA-ARS Cropping Systems & Water Quality Research Unit, USA Country reports 2. Research Barrier against Water, Gas and Solute Movement in Soils - Shuichi Hasegawa, Hokkaido Univ., Japan 3. New Theory Farming System Application on the National Water Grid System Plan - Somkiat Prajamwong, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Thailand 4. Impact of Various Land Clearing Techniques on Peat Eco-System - Ismail bin Abu Bakar, MARDI, Malaysia 5. The Role of Tree Crops for Steep Land Conservation: Case Study in Southern Sumatera, Indonesia - Ai Dariah, Center for Soil and Agroclimate R&D, Indonesia 6. Soil Erosion Measurement and Control Technique - Joongdae Choi, Kangwon National University, Korea

FFTC Annual Report 2005

7. Vegetation Engineering Methods for Erosion Control and Slope Stabilization on Landslide Area - Li-Ling Lin, National Chung-Hsing University, Taiwan ROC 8. Effective Water Management in Korean Agriculture - Ki-Cheol Eom, Rural Development Administration, Korea 9. Conservation Farming Village as a Modality for Promoting Soil and Water Conservation Technologies - Digna O. Manzanilla, PCARRD, Philippines 10. Innovative Technologies for Soil and Water Conservation in the Coastal Area of Mekong delta - Duong Van Ni, Cantho University, Vietnam 11. Water Pollution Sources and Management in Environmentally Sustainable Agriculture Site - Ji-Yong Choi, Korea Environment Institute, Korea

12. Technology and Know-how Related to Creek Restoration and Erosion Control from the Viewpoint of Ecolo gic Engineering Development in Taiwan - Chia-Chun Wu, National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, Taiwan ROC 13. Present Status and Plan for Agricultural Environment Conservation in Korea - Seung-Oh Hur, National Institute of Agricultural Science & Technology, Korea 14. Validation and Modification of Soil Organic Matter Models Using Data from Long-term Experiments in Asia - Yasuhito Shirato, National Institute for AgroEnvironmental Sciences, Japan

For further information, contact: Mr. In-Woo Lee, FFTC Agricultural Economist


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