Low-cost water harvesting and conversation techniques

WATER is one of the most important resources in life.

We need water to do almost everything, including farming.

Water harvesting and conservation techniques were developed over more than three thousand years by different people in different countries. Also in different soils, in different climates for different crops. A substantial number of them complement each other and farmers should consider using methods in conjunction with other for optimum effect.

Methods that require advanced building or engineering input are not included in this article.

Sand Dam

A sand dam is an underground wall across a dry sandy river band. The sand fills up the top of the wall and water is trapped behind the wall in the sand. A pump is usually used to extract the water.

The main purpose: Sand dams are easily built in arid, sandy areas than other dams. The water tends to be of a higher quality than other surface water sources because of the filtration effect of the sand. Sand dams recharge ground water.

Small Earth Dam

Small earth dam is a 1-3 metre high wall built across a drainage line, stream or small river to store water.

An earth-dam is made of compacted clayey material with a wide base and narrow crest, at the top of the wall. When building, technical competence is required to ensure stability and water tightness, and experience input to the design and construction is advisable. The advantage here is that there will be seasonal and permanent water storage for cattle watering and/or domestic use.


Mulching in the practice of spreading organic material like compost, straw, manure, dry leaves, grass clipping or wood chips onto the surface of the soil. It is usually concentrated around the plant.

Its advantages are that it limits weed growth and makes watering easier by protecting the soil.

Improves plant growth and soil temperature and reduces evaporation from soil temperature.

Grey water harvesting

Grey water harvesting is the practice of using non-toilet waste water produced in a household to water the root zone of the soil. Grey water includes water that was used for bathing, washing, cleaning, cooking and rinsing.

Conservation tillage

This includes all kinds of planting, hoeing an dploghing practices that conserve water and soil. The aim is to minimize soil turning, to keep permanent ground cover, to mulch and to rotate crops. Tillage operations are restricted to the planting lines – the area in between is not disturbed – and crop residue if left on the surface. There is a whole range of reduced tillage systems in use, depending on the soil, the crop and the rotation.

Information courtesy of AgriSuite App. For use or more information about the APP, contact info@mabalengwe.co.za

Low-cost water harvesting and conversation techniques
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