November-December 2019
Minimize external inputs
Maximise internal diversity
Use available water as efficiently as possible.
Work together, learn together and plan together
General practices/ learning
Soils; structure, texture, types, crusting,
Contours; line levels
-Gardens, fields
-<0,1ha, 0,1-1ha
-Low cost, local
-Easy todo and
maintain; labour
Contours and Water flow (1)
-Run-off; through observation
on site draw a layout map
-Contours; level horizontal lines
across a slope measured for
actions such as contour
ploughing, stone bunds,
terraces, swales etc
-Rainfall: >150mm/year
-Soil: 5-35% clay, depth >15cm
Percentage Recommended distances
between contour lines in
metres (m)
1.7 57.3
3.5 28.7
5.3 19.1
7.0 14.3
8.8 11.5
10.59.6 (1:10)
12.38.2 (1:8)
147.2 (1:7)
166.4 (1:6)
17.6 5.8
19.45.2 (1:5)
21.3 4.8
23.1 4.5
25.04.1 (1:4)
27.0 4.0
28.7 3.6
30.63.4 (1:3)
Line-levels and A-frames
canbe used to measure
out slope as well as
slope helps us to know
how far apart to make our
contours and soil and
watercontrol structures-
such as swales, stone
bunds, terraces etc
Contours and measuring slope (2)
Manage available water
Increased access to water
Diversion ditches
-Gardens, fields
-<0,1ha, 0,1-1ha
-Low cost, local resources
-Easy todo andmaintain; labour
-Ditches 30cm deep and 30cm wide are dug
at a shallow gradient -1,5-3% to channel
water to beds in the garden or field
-Planting can be done in the ridge, adding
manure and compost
-And mulching of both ridges and ditches is
a good idea
-Rainfall: >150mm/year
-Soil: 5-35% clay, depth >15cm
Digging a diversion ditch (1,5-5%slope; 30cm
wide and 30cm deep with soil placed on upper
Diversion ditches leading to trench beds and
banana circles
Preparing the ridge of the diversion ditch for
planting-shaping and adding manure
Diversion ditch, mulched and sweet potato
planted on ridge
Cut off drains/swales
-Gardens, fields
-<0,1ha, 0,1-1ha, >2ha
-Low cost, local resources,
-Labour intensive
-A swale is an earth bank constructed along
the contour with a furrow on the up-slope
-The top of the earth bank is levelled off to
allow planting.
-The swale intercepts runoff, spreads it out
and helps it infiltrate deep into the ground
-Typically, permanent crops (e.g. fruit trees)
are planted just below the ridge of the
swale, while seasonal crops (e.g. vegetables)
are planted between the swales.
-Rainfall: >150mm <1200mm/year
-Temperature: >5°C
-Topography: 5%-25%
-Soil: all types – although soils that are
too sandy or too clayey are difficult to
Preparing trench beds below a swale
Digging the cut off drain/swale ditch. Soil
is placed on the downslope
Constructing a swale and a view of two swales
indicating the flow of water
Mulching can also be placed in the ditch and
crops planted both in the ditch and on the
Mulching the top of a recently dug swale
Furrows and ridges
-Gardens, fields
-<0,1ha, 0,1-1ha
-Low cost, local resources,
-Labour intensive
-Furrows are dug on contour and soil placed
upslope in a mound
-Planting is done on the mounds and irrigation or
waterflows along the furrow
-It is possible to create cross ties to ensure good
irrigation- so water can accumulate in the furrow
and seed into the ground
-Mulching is a good idea
-Rainfall: >150mm/year
-Topography: 0,5%-5%
-Soil: all types
Mulched furrows in a garden planted to
tomatoes.. Flood irrigation is practices in the
Furrows and ridges used in field cropping; note the tied ridges to hold
water in the furrows
A vegetable garden laid out in furrows and ridges; planted to
tomatoes, carrots and spinach. Note the trench bed in the
front right of the picture
Fruit trees can be combined into the beds in this system
Tied ridges
-Gardens, fields
-<0,1ha, 0,1-1ha
-Low cost, local resources,
-Labour intensive
-This method increases the water that is available to
plants by collecting rainfall from an unplanted sloping
basin and catching it with a furrow and ridge. Planting
takes place on either side of the furrow where the
water has infiltrated.
-Basins are created by digging out shallow furrows
along the contour lines of the slope and constructing
ridges on the downside of the furrows. These are
“tied” together by slightly lower ridges which are
constructed at regular intervals along the furrows
-Rainfall: 400-700mm/year
-Temperature: >5°C
-Topography: 0,5%-7%
-Soil: Soils should be relatively stable. The best
soils are clay or soils with a relatively permeable
topsoil over a less permeable subsoil
A small field laid out with tied ridges planted
to sweet potatoes and maize
Crops are planted above and below the furrow
Water collecting in the furrows
Mulched furrows in a garden laid out with tied ridges
Halfmoon basins
-Gardens, fields
-<0,1ha, 0,1-1ha
-Low cost, local resources
-Easy todo andmaintain; labour
-Halfmoon basins are erosion control
structures usedto improvewater
holding and assist in revegetation of
denuded slopes
-The are constructed as semi-circular
basins laid out on contour and
-Can be planted to trees, bushes and
-Rainfall: >150mm/year
-Soil: 5-35% clay, depth >15cm
Halfmoon basins on a denuded slope in the Lower Olifants
region of Limpopo; here filled with thorny brush to assist in
reseeding of veld grass
Hlafmoon microcatchments in the Sahel (
Halfmoon basins are constructed to catch run-off water and the edges are
constructed as earth and stone bunds . The semi-circle usually has diameter
of around 5-6m (
Infiltration pits/
banana circles
-Low cost, local resources
-Easy todo andmaintain; labour
-Basins dug in the soil along water flow lines
(to catch and slow water)
-basins filled with organic matter (large
amounts) mixed with soil and bananas planted
in these basins
-Or a pit is dug in a water flow line and slowly
filled with organic matter (green and manure)-
on the edges
-Rainfall: >350mm/year
-Topography: 1,5%-25%
-Soil: all types (5-30% clay), and
depths (>30cm)
Smaller, separate basins can be made - basins
are dug out and filled with organic matter
Step wise basins along a drainage line in a
homestead garden. Tied ridges are made
between the basins
A mulched banana circle, mixed with herbs
-Rainfall: >150mm/year
-Soil: all types, and depths
-Soil covered by a variety of crop
residues and organic matter
- To save water, reduce soil
temperatures, and increase soil health
-Gardens, fields
- <0,1ha
-Low cost, local resources
-Easy todo andmaintain; labour
Leaf litter mulch of trench bed
Grass mulch of furrows and ridges
planting system
Napier fodder/ sugar cane, stover mulch of
vegetable beds
Lucerne or grass mulch of dryland. Conservation agriculture plot
Shade cloth Tunnels
- Gardens
-Medium cost, medium skills,
including learning and mentoring
-Low maintenance
-20% grey shade net tunnels of
4mx6m in size are constructed
using ‘kits’ and local materials
-The hoops are made of conduit
piping which is bent using a “jig”
a metal frame
-The hoops are placed directly into
the soil- avoiding any
construction and then the netting
is placed over the hoops and
sewn on.
-The tunnel is anchored on both
-Inside the tunnel are three trench
beds 1mx5m and each is supplied
with a 20l bucket drip kit
-Mixed cropping is practiced in the
tunnel and greywater can also be
Netting is sewn onto the two end hoops
before putting them up for the back and
front-where a door is included
The ends of the tunnel are anchored for
extra wind protection
A recently completed tunnel with a bucket
drip kit installed
A functioning mixed cropping
The hoops are fitted directly into holes in the
ground; netting is pulled over the hoops and
secured by covering it with soil
A metal jig is used to bend the hoops
The tunnel is measured out exactly using a rope
Rainwater harvesting storage
-<0,1ha, 0,1-1ha, .2ha
-High cost and or high labour requirements for storage structures
-High levels of skill and knowledge (outside support and training
initially required
-Medium maintenance and effort. Water needs to be taken out by
bucket, or pumped. Silt needs to removed from time to time
-Underground tanks collect
runoff water form
structures, roads and the
general area, to store large
amounts of water (25 000-
40 000 litres); enough water
fora100-200msq garden for
-Large holes need to be dug
and then tanks are
constructed –either
ferrocement, blocks and
plaster or geofabric and
-Rainfall: >450mm/year
-Temperature: >5°C
-Topography: 1,5%-25%
-Soil: all types (5-30% clay), and depths (>30cm)
Local RWH storage options in Limpopo; basins, 210l drums and
1000l containers. These hold little water
A ferrocement underground tank with brick wall for
placement of a roof structure under construction
The silt trap for a 25 000l underground tank to reduce
silt load of stored water
A treadle pump being used to pump water out of the
underground tanks behind it (40 000l)
A completed geofabric tank with brick
wall and roof for safety. The inlet
furrow for water is in the foreground
Rainwater harvesting
storage–Jo-jo tanks
-Jo-Jo tanks can be used for harvesting water off
roofs (usually 2500l-5000l in size). It is important
to make sure proper gutters and pipes are
-It is also possible to use partially buried Jo-Jo
tanks as an option to harvest water off steep
slopes. Here the water can be gravity fed form
the tanks and no pumps or buckets re required
-And there are options for using Jo-jo tanks
underground – although in this case they need
to be strengthened. This is easier than
constructing tanks
Jo-Jo tanks buried for underground water storagePartially buried Jo-Jo tanks for harvesting water off slopes
Gutters and inlet pipes are important when using Jo-Jo
tanks to collect water from roofs
A home made suction pump can be used to get
water out of underground tanks
Roof area
Jan 115 43.60.94513
Feb 123 43.60.94827
Mar 109 43.60.94277
Apr 78 43.60.93061
May 61 43.60.92394
Jun 35 43.60.91373
Jul 30 43.60.91177
Aug 35 43.60.91373
Sep 55 43.60.92158
Oct 60 43.60.92354
Nov 80 43.60.93139
Dec 95 43.60.93728
TOTAL 876 34374
Small dams
-Gardens, fields
-<0,1ha, 0,1-1ha
-Low cost, local resources
-Easy todo andmaintain; labour
-Small dams can be dug in soils that can hold water
they tend to lose water and only stay full for a short
period but provide a lot of water to the soil profile in
the area. Usually they are dug in places where small
springs can fill them up on a continuous basis.
-It is possible to line these small dams/ponds with
plasticbut only if there is a reasonable chance that
they will stay full as the plastic decays easily in the
-It is also possible to line the small dams with
bentonite to seal them again only when ponds are
likely to remain full of water most of the time.
-Rainfall: >450mm/year
-Topography: 1,5%-25%
-Soil: clay soil types (20%-45% clay),
and depths (>60cm)
A small pond lined with bentonite (the yellowish clay inside the
pond,) being filled up. Not e the angle of the pond walls, the
slope of the pond walls , that allows for the bentonite to be
stamped into sides and bottom of the pond to seal it.
A small pond dug in a community garden fed by
run-off water form the road and lined with plastic
Three examples of small dams/ponds dug in ground that will hold water ->25% clay to be sure. The one on the right is a
‘large’ dam fed by a spring slightly higher up the slope. The dam in the central picture is fed by a pipe gravity fed from a
-Households and gardens
- <0,1ha
-High cost, external and local resources
-Labour and skill intensive; need for local training and
technical support
-Community level groups work together to agree upon who
will be involved (not more than 20 people), who need to be
actively involved in farming and in close proximity to each
-They identify a local water source in the vicinity; a spring or
potential borehole sites and ratify their use of this source
with the local authorities
-Then a system is designed to provide for a header tank filled
from the source and then gravity fed reticulation to all the
involved households and gardens.
-The water committee designs and implements the rules for
water allocations to each household and manages any
finances and payment involved
-All participating members are expected to contribute
financially, to do the labour for the installations themselves
and to proactively manage the water with the other
members in their group
-All permissions from the water services authorities and local
authorities need to be obtained and arrangements need to
be made for ongoing maintenance.
-Rainfall: >150mm/year
-Soils: Any
-Sources of water; springs, ground water
A spring dug out to form a small dam. The spring protection consists of a slotted pipe buried in a ditch dug below the dam and which is then
covered with gravel, shade netting and soil, to be protected. In this way a spring can be protected, without major construction
An example of a header tank from
where water is gravity fed to the
An example of a household
connection. These drums are
interlinked and have a float valve to
ensure the water stops running
when the drums are full
Drilling of boreholes and laying of pipes form the header
tank to the households
Drip irrigation
-Gardens, fields
-<0,1ha, 0,1-1ha
-Low to high cost,
-Medium to high level of maintenance and
-Drip irrigation allows precise
application of small amounts of water
directly to the root zone.
-Evaporationfrom thesoilsurfaceis
reduced, compared to other irrigation
-It is thus believed to save water and is
seen as an appropriate intervention in
areas where water is scarce.
supplied through the drip system
-Rainfall: >150mm/year
-Soil: 5-35% clay, depth >15cm
Large scale drip irrigation for many crops including
maize. Water is stored in dams and pumped into
the irrigation system
Small scale systems can be designed for any size garden, using
gravity from a raised storage container to move the water into the
Due to high costs of installation and maintenance, drip irrigation is
mostly used in intensive farming with high value vegetable and fruit
An example of low-flow drip irrigation system, in a nut orchard..
Greywater management
-Ash remains can be poured into pit latrines to reduce smell
-Or use a stone and sand filtration system
-Flush system with clean water once a week to avoid build up of soaps
that can become poisonous
Bucket drip kits
Tower gardens
Bucket Drip kits
-Medium cost, medium skills, including learning
and mentoring
-Medium maintenance drippers need to be
checked and cleaned regularly ; medium labour
intensive to set up, maintenance easy.
-Stones and sand are placed in a bucket
(20L) for filtration of greywater to be used
in dripping system
-The drip kit is assembled on site making
your own string drippers and choosing
width of lines and spacing of drippers.
-2 lines 30cm apart and 5 m long is good for
a trench bed and provides 4mm of
A 210l drum drip irrigation system used in a
A well functioning string dripper that makes a
wetted circle around the dripper
Mulching the beds adds to efficient water
A bucket drip kit irrigating a 1mx 3m trench
bed with mixed crops
Attaching the dripper lines to the feeder pipe
from the bucket
Making the string drippers
Bucket with stones; a cloth bag of
sand is added on top to complete
the filter
-Greywater management
-Low -medium cost, low-medium skills,
including learning and mentoring, local
-Low maintenance but bags will need to
be replaced after some time (3-5 years)
using four poles and wrapping a tube of 80%
shade cloth around these poles.
-In the centre of the bed, a stone column is built
up using a bottomless bucket as a ring
-The bed is filled in with a pre-prepared mixture
(1/3 soil, 1/3 manure, 1/3 ash (It needs a lot of
ash to clean the greywater used)
-Small holes are made in the side of the bag and
seedlings are planted vertically into these small
holes-usually spinach or another leafy
-The top of the bed can be used for planting
other crops tomatoes are good as they can be
staked to the poles.
-The bed is watered by pouring the greywater
onto the stone column in the middle
Watering into the central stone column
Building up the tower-filling in the soil mix
around the stone column and moving it up
Placement of the stone column in the small
bottomless bucket in the middle of the bed
Making the soil, manure ash mixture for
filling the tower garden
A ‘mature’ tower garden planted to spinach
and tomatoes
Making the small holes in the side of the bag
for planting seedlings
- Gardens
-Low cost, low-medium skills, including
learning and mentoring, local resources
(stone should be easily available as 500-
800kg is required)
-Low maintenance
These are intensive built-up beds with a
central compost basket/column for
watering and greywater application
They are easy to manage
The bed is circular (3m diameter, with a
access to the compost basket which is
filled continually and for watering
The walls are built 60cm-80cm high and
the bed is filled with a pre-prepared mix of
soil, compos/manure (at least 20% by
volume) and ash. Lime and bonemeal can
also be added
The bed is planted to mixed crops or
divided into sections where crops are
A ‘mature’ keyhole bed planted to a mixture
of crops
A recently constructed keyhole bed. Here the central column is of gravel or
small stones inside the bed-rather than a compost basket
A drawing showing a keyhole bed form the top with the central
compost basket divided into four sections for crop rotation
Grassed water ways
-0,1-1ha, >1ha
-Low cost, local resources
-Easyto do andmaintain;labour intensive
-Grassed waterways are broad, shallow and typically saucer-
shaped channels designed to move surface water across farmland
without causing soil erosion.-These channels are used for the safe
disposal of excess runoff from the crop lands to some safe outlet
such as rivers or streambeds.
-The vegetative cover in the waterway slows the water flow and
protects the channel surface from the eroding forces of runoff
-Planting of creeping and perennial grasses such as Paspalum,
Fescue ,Kikuyu and couch grass are better than planting tall
upright, annual grasses
-Make the cross section of the waterway either trapezoidal or
parabolic, and never V-shaped and be sure waterways are at least
30-40cm deep and the slope of the sidewalls should never be
steeper than 1 in 4.
-Rainfall: >450mm/year
-Temperature: >5°C
-Topography: 1,5%-25%
-Soil: all types (5-30% clay), and depths (>30cm)
Parabolic or trapezoidal shapes appropriate for grassed water ways.
Note the banks are along a shallow gradient (Michigan state
University, (MSU Extension 2015)
The same field with a grassed waterway installed a few years later,
(MSU Extension, 2015)
Tall Fesuce remains green throughout winter
Left: Erosion caused by run-off in a wheat field a(MSU
Extension, 2015)
Paspalum (Bahia Grass) is a good option for waterways
it is tough and drought resistant
Couch grass (Elymus repens), is considered a weed, in cropping land
but it grows well even in poor soils and provides good cover for a
Soil management
Soil movement and erosion control
Soil fertility
Soil health
Stone bunds
-Gardens, fields
-<0,1ha, 0,1-1ha, >2ha
-Low cost, local resources,
-Labour intensive
-Packstone linesoncontourstocontrolwater
-The stones are keyed into a shallow ditch and
larger stones are packed downslope from the
smaller stones to avoid stone lines form
breaking and allow slow movement of water
though the stone lines
-Planting can be done below the stone line as
more water accumulates there, or just above
the stone line in the accumulated silt and soil
-Rainfall: >150mm/year
-Topography: 0,5%-5%
-Soil: all types where stones and
rocksare easily available
A view showing the stones keyed into a ditch with
larger stones downslope of the smaller stones.
Bananas planted below a substantial stone
Brinjals planted in accumulated silt above a
garden level stone line
Small stone lines are used to control
run-off form a road and channel water
into the gardens
Stone lines are constructed on contour and can be done at any
Check dams
-Gardens, fields
-<0,1ha, 0,1-1ha, >2ha
-Low cost, local resources,
-Labour intensive
-A check dam is a small, sometimes
temporary, dam constructed across a
drainage ditch, or waterway to
counteract erosion by reducing water
flow velocity and allowing sedimentation
of silt
-Different materials can be used including
soil, stones, wood and vegetation
-Rainfall: >150mm/year
-Topography: 1,5%-25%
-Soil: all types where stones and
rocksare easily available
The same check dam 4-5 months later. It
has filled in with silt and grass has grownCompleted check dam
Starting to pack the check dam. Large rocks
go at the bottom
Digging the ditch for keying in the
stones for the check dam
Gulley forming in a field
-Gardens, fields
-<0,1ha, 0,1-1ha
-Low cost, local resources,
-Labour intensive
A terrace is a level strip of soil built along the contour of
a slope and supported by an earth or stone bund, or
which would otherwise be too steep for crop
-A series of terraces creates a step-like effect which slows
down runoff, increases the infiltration of water into the
soil, and helps control soil erosion.
-Rainfall: >350mm/year
-Soil: all types where stones and rocks
are easily available
Stone terraces for field cropping
A view of garden level terraces on a steep
bank. (~40% slope)
A view of a slope where field
terraces have been made for
maize production (~20%
Terraces can also be built using old tyres in
areas where stones are scarce
Slope Distance between
terraces (meters)
Percent Ratio
10% 1:10 8.0
15% 1:6.7 5.3
20% 1:5 4.0
25% 1:4 3.2
30% 1:3.3 2.7
35% 1:2.8 2.3
40% 1:2.5 2.0
Improved organic matter
-Gardens, fields
-<0,1ha, 0,1-1ha, >2ha
-Low cost, local resources,
-Labour intensive
Improving the organic matter content of the soil is
important at any scale of operation
Methods include:
Adding manure improved manure quality through
collecting urine containing manure from kraals,
where grass or straw is used bedding material, piling
this up and covering the pile with grass or plastic. This
is left for a minimum of 5-7 days prior to use.
Adding compost ; Layers of dry material, green
material, manure and soil built up and well wetted.
Crop residues (from grains, grasses, legumes,
brassicas and chenopods)and deep/sheet mulching;
Finding sources of organic matter with high levels of
requirednutrientssuch asNitrogen and carbonis
important. Some plant residues and manures also
contain high levels of specific elements such as
potassium (comfrey), silicon (stinging nettle)..
-Rainfall: >350mm <1200mm/year
-Temperature: >5°C
-Topography: 5%-25%
-Soil: all types – although soils that are too
sandy or too clayey are difficult to manage
Goat pen with grass bedding to
make improved manure
A compost pile made from layers of dry and green plant material, manure and
soil, well wetted and then covered
N (Nitrogen)
P (Phosphorous)
K (Potassium)
Amount of different nutrients in different kinds of manure (Kg/ton)
Comfrey, residues of grasses and maize and a growing mixture of cover crops – sunflower, millet and Dolichos beans
Planting legumes, green manures
-Gardens, fields
-<0,1ha, 0,1-1ha, >2ha
-Medium cost (seed and plants), local resources,
-Labour intensive
Legumes are important as they fix Nitrogen from the air
and improve soil fertility and soil health for neighbouring
and following crops.
They can be planted with other crops or in rotation
Examples of warm season legumes are sugar beans,
runner beans, cowpeas, Jugo beans, ground nuts,
Dolichos (Lab-Lab), Velvet beans (Mucuna), Jack bean,
mung beans, chickpeas, lentils, Lucerne and Sun hemp
Examples of cool season legumes are; peas, broad
beans, vetch, and clover
Green manures are planted to be incorporated into the
soil, just before flowering to maximise the nutrients (
including Nitrogen) that can be added to the soil for
following crops.Greenmanuresareoftenlegumes(such
as vetch and clover), grains and grasses (such as black
oats and fodder rye), brassicas (such as forage radish,
turnips, mustard and canola) and chenopods (such as
-Rainfall: >150mm <1200mm/year
-Temperature: >5°C
-Topography: 5%-25%
-Soil: all types – although soils that are too
sandy or too clayey are difficult to manage
Green manure cover crops; cool seasonSaia
oats, fodder rye and fodder radish
Dolichos (lab-Lab) beans planted as a green
manure cover crop in rotation with maize
Cowpeas intercropped with maize
Broad beans, Amaranthus, Lucerne and red clover
-Low cost, local resources
-Easyto do andmaintain;labour intensive
-A bed is dug out to 60-80cm depth,
around 1 m wide and 1-10m long.
-It is filled with a range of organic matter;
manure, dry material ,green material and
-Other layers could include tins at the
bottom for iron and water holding, or
-Bone meal and lime can be added to
increase fertility
-Bones, skins and feathers can be added
-Ash can be added for K
-The bed is built up in a small basin,
planted and mulched
-Rainfall: >150mm/year
-Topography: 0,5%-5%
-Soil: all types
The trench beds iare built up with a shallow ditch around it and a basin
inside the bed and planted to seeds and seedlings
If available, a layer of green organic matter e.g. weeds, leaves,
vegetable peelings and remains is added after the layer of dry organic
Then layers of organic matter are added e.g
maize stover, leaves , weeds, grass
Then a layer of manure is added, followed
by some top soil. This is watered and the
process is started again
Trenches are dug 60cm-1m deep . The bottom
layer is made up of old tins or branches
Shallow trenches
-Low cost, local resources
-Easy todo andmaintain; labourintensive
-Shallow trenches are an easier version of trench beds.
They are dug out to around 30cm and filled with a
mixture of organic matter; manure , dry and green plant
materials. They are then filled up with soil and planted.
-Shallow trenches are often used when making furrows
and ridges, which give long narrow lines of more fertile
soil – most appropriate for larger gardens and fields.
-For trenches both deep and shallow mulching is
important, as is mixed cropping or crop rotation systems
--These beds last 3-8 years before needing to be re-
Trench beds with a range of crops and mulchingA shallow trench being prepared
Trench beds planted to a mixture of vegetables the
bed in the background shows seeding carrotsA vegetable garden laid out to trench beds-A peach tree provides
some shadeimportant ofr hot, dry areas
-Low cost, local resources
-Easyto do andmaintain;labour intensive
-These are small (1m diameter) circular,
double dug beds double digging entails
digging out a bed to 30cm, loosening the
soil in the 30cm below that and mixing in
manure and then replacing the first 30cm
of soil mixed with manure or compost
-A 2l empty bottle with holes in the sides is
buried in the middle of the bed and the
bed is watered by pouring water into the
-A tripod of stakes can be used for climbing
plants such as tomatoes and beans
A small eco-circle created around a tree with
the irrigation bottle and herbs plantedAnother example of an eco-circle
A recently completed eco-circle with tripod of
stakes for climbing plants
An eco-circle bed with the drip irrigation bottle in the
centre, mulched and planted to herbs
-Gardens, fields
-<0,1ha, 0,1-1ha, >2ha
-Medium cost,- reduction of external inputs
through efficient use
-Labour intensive
-Fertilizers are added according to soil fertility
recommendations, targeted next to growing
plants rather than spreading or banding.
-Lime can be added in basins or rows as
surface applications – to reduce soil
acidification and maintain low acid
saturation; or lime can be ploughed into a
field/ plot prior to CA interventions
-Rainfall: >450mm/year
-Topography: 1,5-10%
-Soil: all types depending on fertilizer
Measuring fertilizer with a
Using a planter to help dispense
seed and fertilizer at the same
Ploughing in lime prior to starting conservation tillage
Placement of fertilizer (LAN) below and about 2cm away from the
Applying surface lime in rows for bean productionApplying lime in basins using a bottle cap as measure
Improved Crop varieties
-Gardens, fields
-<0,1ha, 0,1-1ha
-Low to high cost,
-Knowledge intensive
-Improvement of crop varieties can take a
number of forms; depending on the aims
of the breeding; generally including
concepts of improved yield, pest and
disease resistance, drought tolerance,
protein and vitamin content, taste and
open pollinated varieties
-Hybrids are usually bred by seed
companies and combine varieties and
traits that don’t naturally occur through
-Genetic modification consists of a highly
technical process of gene manipulation
into crop varieties
A stand of open pollinated maize; there is some variability in the growth of the plants,
given their wide genetic material and adaptability
Bagging pollen on maize plants for hand
pollination of the flowers in open pollinated
and traditional varieties
Open pollinated and traditional varieties of maize, showing the many different colour
and shades of the kernels and heads.
Hybrid maize produces an even stand of very
similar plants
Zai pits/ planting
-Gardens, fields
-0,1ha-1ha, >1ha
-Low cost, local resources
-Easyto do andmaintain;labour intensive
-Zai is a hole or planting pit , usually with a diameter of
20-40 cm and a depth of 10-20 cm
-The Zai pits capture rain and surface run-off water and
protect the seeds and organic matter from being
washed away. They also help to concentrate water and
nutrients for the crops
-Pits are dug during the dry season. The excavated
earth is ridged around the demi-circle to improve the
water retention capacity of the pit.
-After digging the pits, composted organic matter is
added at an average, recommended rate of 0.6 kg/pit
and, after the first rainfall, the matter is covered with a
thin layer of soil and the seeds placed in the middle of
the pit.
-Rainfall: >350mm/year
-Topography: 1,5%-25%
-Soil: all types (5-30% clay), and depths
Maize planted in Zai pits, in Kenya (from
Zai pits dug in an eroded field, with composting material ready
to be added (from Chris Reij), 20100
Zai pits in Kenya, planted to maize and then mulched for increased moisture holding and soil fertility (from, 2017)
Conservation Agriculture
-Gardens, fields
-<0,1ha, 0,1-1ha, >2ha
-Medium cost (Seed, fertilizer, agrochemicals), planters,
local resources
-Labour intensive
-Minimal soil disturbance-no ploughing
-Soil cover through stover, mulches and
cropping cycles
-Diversification; intercropping, relay cropping,
cover crops ( legume-brassicas and grain
-Rainfall: >350mm/year
-Topography: 1,5&-15%
-Soil: all types
Different planters;
Mbli ( hoe-type
(Wheel), Matracca
(jab) and animal
drawn planters,
A small mixed plot – peanuts, pumpkins
and maize
Winter cover crops; saia/black oats, forage
sorghum and fodder radish
Summer cover crops; sunflower, millet and
sunn hemp
A maize and bean intercropped plot-using
tramlines (double rows) and close spacing
Planting furrows and basins by hand using hand hoes
and MBLI planters without ploughing
Minimal soil disturbance
Soil cover
Clockwise: Two row no till planter.
‘Weeding wheel’.Matracca jab
planter, MBLI planter
Below: Animal drawn planter
Conservation Agriculture:
All three principles
Soil cover
Below: A 3year old CA plot with developing cover Far right: A
ploughed plot with no soil cover
Left: Assessing soil cover, Mulching…..
Conservation Agriculture: All three principles
Runoff muddy (195mm)
Runoff clear (42mm)
Minimal soil disturbance
Soil cover
-Intercropping close
spacing for canopy and
weed control
-Cover crops; summer
and winter relay
cropping and single block
Right: Maize (PAN 6479)
and bean (Dolichos)
intercrop Smephi
Hlatshwayo -Eqeleni
Conservation Agriculture: All three principles
Pre-spray with post emergent and contact herbicides
(Round Up and Gramoxone). Include pre-emergent
herbicide such as Dual Gold for grasses such as nutsedge
Close spacing of tramlines: 50x50 maize, 25x10 beans
One weeding is enough before canopy cover is reached.
Must be early weeding: 2-3 weeks.
Cover is reached from 4-5 weeks onwards.
Intercropping and close spacing
matter build up
Improve soil fertility
Improved soil structure
and soil health
types of weeds
Management of pests
and disease
incidence and severity
Summer and winter
mixes used in relay and
Cover crop mixes; summer and winter
Mrs Phumelele Hongwane, scc, Ezibomvini.
Mr Tsoloane Mapheele, Khutsong,
Strip cropping-Gardens, fields
-<0,1ha, 0,1-1ha, >2ha
-Low cost (Seed and plants), local resources,
-Easy to do
-Cultivation in which different crops are sown in alternate
strips to prevent soil erosion and optimise nutrient uptake
-Planting of strips have to be across the slope or on contour
-Crops need to be chosen to have a mixture of rooting depths
and nutrient requirements.S trip cropping of multifunctional
species is a good idea
-Agroforestry species such as Pigeon Pea, Moringa, Sesbania
sesban, Leuceana etc work well
-Grasses such as vetiver, lemon grass and Napier fodder can
also be used, as well as Rhodes-Smutsfinger (Digitaria)mix,
Paspalum notatum and Tall Fescue
Strip cropping of maize with Paspalum and
Strip cropping Pigeon pea/Leuceana and maize
Grass strips on contour in between maize
Maize and Lucerne or Lespedeza strip cropping
Moringa trees with grass in between strip
cropping of other field crops
Crop management
Planting systems; choice of crops, mixed cropping,
Crop health-natural pest and disease control
Fruit production
Liquid Manure
- Gardens
-Low cost, local resources, low labour
-Easy and quick to do.
-It boosts fertility for growing plants and
helps to balance small deficiencies
-Green liquid manures/ tea- use weed,
banana stems, comfrey etc and place in a
bucket of water to ferment. Dilute 1:4 and
-Liquid manure- use of manures, reasonably
fresh (cow, goat, poultry) and ferment in a
closed bucket for 7-10 days prior to diluting
1:4 for use.
Chopping weeds to add to a liquid manure brew
Liquid manure containers need to be covered to avoid
evaporation of some of the important nutrients
Animal manure used as liquid manure; chicken,
goat and cattle manure are good sources the
fresher the better
Chopping banana stems as the basis of a green
tea or plant based liquid manure
Mixed cropping
-Gardens, fields
-<0,1ha, 0,1-1ha, >2ha
-Low cost (Seed and plants), local resources,
-Easy to do
-Mixed cropping and companion planting; entails planting different
crop types together for pest and disease control
-Either multifunctional plants with vegetables , different families of
vegetables (leaf, roof, legume, fruit, or a general mixture
-Do not plant same family together- brassicas (cabbage, broccoli,
cauliflower, kale..) Solanaceae (tomatoes, potatoes, brinjal, peppers),
cucurbits (pumpkin, gourds, butternut, melons, cucumber)…
Cabbage and spinach intercrop with marigolds and spring onions planted around
the edges
Trench beds with lines of cabbage, spinach and
tomato Traditional maize pumpkin and bean intercrop
A trench bed with different leafy greens; spinach,
beetroot, Chenopodia, amaranthus and sweet
A mixture of many different types; maize, kale,
radish, marigolds, spinach and okra
Traditional maize pumpkin and bean intercrop
A 4 crop rotation: Move from fruit to leaf to root to legume in four consecutive
planting seasons. Divide your bed/ garden into four plots and move the crop
along each season
A 3 crop rotation system appropriate for both garden and fields
-Crop rotation is an important management strategy for both gardens and fields.
-Crop rotation reduces pest and disease build up in the soil and the environment
balances nutrient removal from the soil and maintains and improves soil health.
-Work with a minimum of 3 year rotations in field crops An example is Maize
Cover crop mix (such as Sunnhemp-, Babala and sunflower) -Legume
-Work with a 3-4 season rotation in vegetable production One system is to move
through the following sequence after digging a trench or adding compost; Fruit-
-Gardens, fields
-<0,1ha, 0,1-1ha, >2ha
-Low cost (Seed and plants), local resources,
-Easy to do
Crop rotation
Planting herbs/
-Gardens, fields
-<0,1ha, 0,1-1ha, >2ha
-Medium cost (Seed and plants),
local resources,
-Easy to do
-Mixed cropping with herbs
and multifunctional plants for
culinary and medicinal
purposes and also to control
pests and diseases in the
Trench bed with a mixture of herbs – fennel,
coriander, parsley and chives
Lemon grass and lemon balm
Eco-circle with bulbine, garlic chives, borage,
comfrey and rosemary
Marigolds and spring onions, bordering a
bed of spinach
Growing tobacco-a good pest
control plant
Natural pest and
disease control
-Gardens, fields
-<0,1ha, 0,1-1ha
-Low cost; local resources,
-Easy to medium labour intensity,
knowledge intensive
-Integrated garden management; mixed
cropping, multi-funtional plants, good
soil fertility management, pest replant
plants, predator attractant plants
-Brews …
Integrated garden management; water and soil management, diversified crops,
perennial and annual mix
Sticky bands on trees control ants, beer traps control slugs and
snails, collars round seedlings control cutworms
Pest predators control pests by ingesting them and or laying
eggs Umbelliferae such as onions and
leeks attract pest predators-e.g.
Marigolds protect against root knot
Pest control brews; soap chilli garlic mixes, parrafin
and onions mixes for soft bodied insects
Brews area sprinkled onto plants-both tops and bottoms of leaves to ensure
good coverage
Chop some cloves finely (one large bulb, or two
medium bulbs) and soak in 2 teaspoons of oil for
one day or in liquid paraffin for two days. Use a
glass jar, not a tin. Mix with half a liter of soapy
waterandfilter. Mix 1part solution with10
parts of water and use as a spray. Shake well
before applying
False codling moth larvae and moth
Insects in general: mosquitoes, cotton stainers,
aphids, flies, army worms, ticks, ants, beetles,
caterpillars, diamondback moths, false codling
moths, grubs, mites, peach borers and termites.
Fungi: scab, mildew, bean rust and tomato blight.
Alternaria -fruit rot, early blight, purple blotch, leaf
Cercospora -leaf mould, leaf spot, early blight, frog-
Colletotrichurn -leaf spot, anthracnose, fruit rot,
Symptoms of anthracnose (caused by Colletotrichum) on
capsicum fruit
Bacteria: Xanthomonas spp. Bacterial blight on strawberries caused
by Xanthomonas campestris
Natural P&D control;
garlic an example
Integrated weed
-Include a number of different
practices-such as soil health
(structure, fertility), landscape
management, cultivation, mechanical
and chemical control measures
-Examples are close spacing of crops
to shade out weeds, mulching and
control of late season seeding weeds
-Composting also kills weed seeds
-Gardens, fields
-<0,1ha, 0,1-1ha
-Low cost; local resources,
-Easy to medium labour intensity,
knowledge intensive
Composting kills weed seeds and is a good way to treat manures before use as it also
increases the nutrient value of the manure
Close spacing and intercropping protect against crops being overrun by weeds on
the left is a maize crop with little weeding on the right a close spaced intercrop
planted at the same time, under a similar weed control regime
Dock indicates acidic soils, amaranthus indicates
fertile soil with bas structure, and black jack can take
up nutrients unavailable to crops
Sedges and nutgrass indicate a lack of air in the soil
Nurseries and propagation
-Medium cost (Seed and plants), local resources,
-Labour intensive
-Mixed cropping with herbs and multifunctional plants for
culinary and medicinal purposes and also to control pests
and diseases in the garden/ field
-Propagation from seed, cuttings and grafting of a range of
vegetable, herb and fruit species
-Seedling beds are made to be deep (30-60cm) with lots of
organic matter (compost and manure) and should be
shaded-to keep seed moist (but not too wet), during
germination and early growth
-Nurseries using speedling trays require intensive
management and are difficult to do organically.
Sugar cane and mangoes being
propagated in the ground in
small nurseries
Shade netting structures for propagation of vegetables and
Small household nurseries under shade trees for
propagation of fruit, multipurpose trees and
shrubs and herbs. Here mangoes and Moringa
are being grown
Propagate indigenous fruit trees from seed.
E.g Dikgogoma in Limpopo
Seedling production in well composted dedicated beds, with shade
and plastic structures to protect the seedlings
Tubs and basins can be used-
they are easy to manage and
move if needs be
Seed saving
-Gardens, fields,
-<0,1ha, -0,1-1ha, >2ha
-Low cost, local resources
-Easy to do and maintain; somewhat
labour and knowledge intensive
-For traditional and farmer preferred
open pollinated varieties (not hybrids),
that are locally adapted to climate, pests
and diseases
-Important to promote pollinators; grow
numerous types of flowering plants and
keep diversity in and around gardens
and fields high
-Keep seed from strong healthy plants
only - never from plants that are bolting
-Choose between 6-24 plants to keep
seed from
-Never keep seed from diseased plants
-Seed must mature and dry on the plant
as long as possible.
-Separate those plants that easily cross
pollinate (e.g. brassicas, maize, peppers
and chillies, pumpkins, lettuce etc) in
space, or time or use caging
different kinds!!
A aged chilli plant to ensure pure
seed that is true to type
Flowers and plants for promotion of pollination;
by bees, hornets, butterflies etc
Hand pollination of maize for seed
A garden for seed production, with structures for caging, and 6-24 of each variety planted
for seed saving different plant families are planted close together to reduce cross
Humidity-Seed will absorb moisture from
the air. Want to store them at <10%
moisture content in dry or airtight
environment Avoidplastic
Light shortens seed life – dark jars, dark
Temperature-Seeds last longer in cold but
not freezing conditions
Seeds such as tomatoes, cucumbers, can
be fermented with water and sugar for
seed health and germination
Further drying can be done with silica gel
Storage with ash, lime, and crush dried
leaves of certain plants e.g. aloeSeed life doubles
when storage
temperature is
lowered by 5ºC
Seed processing and
Forevery 1%
moisture in
the seed the
seed life
-Gardens, fields,
-<0,1ha, -0,1-1ha, >2ha
-Low cost, local resources
-Easy to do and maintain; somewhat labour
and knowledge intensive
Use silicon to draw water from
seed and ash for storage of dry
Layout of a small home based seed bank;
drying racks, paper packets and glass jars
Store seed in glass containers
Fermentation of tomato and gooseberry seed for storage and
good germination
Store seed and gourds in a cool, dry, dark place
Fruit production
-Gardens, orchards
-<0,1ha, 0,1-1ha >1ha
-Medium cost (Seed and plants),
local resources,
-Labour and knowledge intensive
-Propagation from seed, cuttings,
grafting to provide fruit throughout
the year (and for sale)
-Organic methods of pest control
-Care taken with planting; deep fertile
basins, with rainwater harvesting
-Some trees will need irrigation
especially when young
A home made fruit fly trap using oranges
and sugar water
Use bunds and basins to make full use of rainwater
for trees
Plant trees in deep holes filled with compost
and create a basin for irrigation with mulching
Use organic remedies such as pyrethrum, mineral oil
and lime sulfur. Use rooting powder for propagation
of cuttings
Propagate from seed; granadillas, avocados,
mangoes, gooseberries, and tree tomatoes
Tree tomatoes are propagated form seed are high in Vitamin C
and fruit in March-May when there is very little other fruit
Irrigation of orange trees, basins
and bunds hold more water
Organic Mango Production
-Gardens and orchards
-<0,1ha, 0,1- 1ha
-Medium cost, external and local resources ; access to new varieties
-Easy to manage, but requires some technical skill
-Make compost at least 4 to 6 months before
-Plant newly acquired trees in Spring in holes of
60cm by 60cm filled with a mixture of compost,
soil ,lime and bone meal. Construct an irrigation
basin around the tree and provide mulching
-Compost is added annually , after fruiting.
-Pruning is done annually after fruiting to ensure
an open canopy for the tree, where all fruit can
receive sunlight
-Young trees need 20 to 40 L of water per week
-Rainfall: >350mm/year
-Soils: Any
-Irrigation; Some access to irrigation is required
A pruned mango tree pushing out new growth, with
compost added in the irrigation basin and mulching
(Matshego Shaai).
Pruning, composting and irrigation basins added for
an old mango tree to bring it back into production
(Mpelesi Sekgobela),
Shakes Searane’s mango orchard in Lepelle, being inspected
by a mango estate manager
Value adding through juicing and drying of mangoes
Agroforestry options
-Gardens, fields
-<0,1ha, 0,1-1ha, >2ha
-Medium cost (Seed/planting stock), local resources
-Labour intensive
as fallows, monocrops or between annual crops
(usually as strip cropping in rows)
-Mostly fodder species such as pigeon pea (udali),
acacia species (umhlalankwazi), Sesbani sesban
(umsokosoko), Moringa olifeara and Leauceana spp
-Rainfall: >350mm/year
-Topography: 1,5&-15%
-Soil: all types
Sesbania plant growing in a field as a
Goats grazing on a stand of pigeon peas
Moringas planted in lines in a small field
Leaucena hedgerow in a field planted to beans (foreground) and maize
Agri-silvipastoral practices
-Gardens, fields, livestock
-<0,1ha, 0,1-1ha >1ha
-Medium cost (Seed and plants), local
-Labour and knowledge intensive
-Agrisilvicultural system isa collection of AF
practices that involve combining crops and trees
with a purpose of maximising benefits per unit
area. Practices found within this system include:
-Alley cropping-planting of woody species in
hedges or crop species in alleys between hedges.
-Improved fallows woody species planted and
left to grow during fallow period. The woody
species improves the soil fertility and water
holding capacity
-Home gardens – Intimate, multi-storey
combination of various trees and crops around
homesteads. Provides a variety of food products
produced from one garden.
-Multipurpose trees on croplands trees
scattered or arranged in a systematic pattern on
bunds, terraces or field boundaries. These trees
fix nitrogen and may be fruit trees that could be
consumed or cut to feed livestock.
Leguminous shrubs planted in grazing
areas, for browsing by livestock
Pasturesplanted in betweentreesina
nut orchard for grazing and shade for
Creep feeding and supplementation
-0,1-1ha >1ha
-Medium cost, local resources,
-Labour and knowledge intensive
Supplementary feeding is a livestock management practice
used to provide animals with those nutrients that the
pastures lack. This is important in winter, when there is a
lack of grazing and also if grazing quality is low (i.e has
little to no protein) Options for supplementary feeding
Protein meals and liquids such as Voermol Premix 450 (a
powder) and LS 33 (a liquid)
Grain and seed such as crushed maize, sorghum, etc.
Lick blocks ; both mineral and protein licks
Supplementation can also be in a form of alternative
higher/better nutritional value compared to present
fodder.Mostof thesespeciesareplantedtoprovidehigh
quality green fodder into late winter. Examples of these
species include: Lucerne, fodder rye, black (saia) oats,
vetch, Teff, fodder radish, Japanese radish, Kale, and
turnips. Perennial grass species that remain green into
winter such as kikuyu and Tall Fescue as also a good idea
Creep feeding is a simple management practice allowing
calves unrestricted access to additional feed while they are
still suckling the cow. Calves gain access to the feed
supplement through a 'creep', which is a fence opening or
a gate opening large enough for calves to pass through but
too small for the cows. A fodder supplement made from Dried
Sesbania sesban leaves, crushed maize and
Home made protein lick blocks consisting of
molasses, urea protein meal, a phosphorous
source, water, a bit of cement and salt.
An example of a commercial creep feeding mechanism for
Japanese radish
A relay crop of vetch and Saia oats into a field of maize for winter grazing.
LS 33 and premix 450
Stall feeding and hay making
Stall feeding is basically a cut and carry system of
feeding livestock in their stalls/kraals, to reduce
damage caused by livestock in fields and also to
ensure better nutrition.
Hay is dried livestock feed and can be made from veld
grass, specific species such as Lucerne, cowpeas, Teff
etc or crop residues
Hay bales can be made on a small scale with a hand
operated baler, appropriate for smallholder farmers
-0,1-1ha >1ha
-Medium cost, local resources,
-Labour and knowledge intensive
Lucerne bale
Eragrostis Teff bale Hand operated baler, with a bale of veld grass made with this baler
Stall or kraal feeding
Maize stover
Legume (soy bean) stover
- >1ha
-Medium cost , local resources,
-Labour and knowledge intensive
Constant grazing of palatable grass species weakens them and allows unpalatable plants to
dominate. To retain the productivity of grasslands it is necessary to rest a portion of the
grazing area for a full growing season. This allows the grass plants to store nutrients in their
root systems and make the grasses more nutritious.
Ideally one quarter of the veld should be rested every four years.
It is important to work with livestock owners to work together to develop a rotational
resting system.