Main content area

Evaluation of surface water drainage systems for cropping in the Central Highlands of Ethiopia

Welderufael, W.A., Woyessa, Y.E.
Agricultural water management 2009 v.96 no.11 pp. 1667-1672
Vertisols, altitude, soil chemical properties, rhizosphere, nutrient uptake, dry matter accumulation, soil air, grain yield, furrows, surface water, plant growth, soil water content, agricultural land, drainage channels, arable soils, flooded conditions, saturated conditions, growing season, rain, raised beds, Ethiopia
In Ethiopia vertisols cover about 10% of the total land area and is the fourth most important soil used for crop production, accounting for nearly 23% of the total arable land used for crop production. More than half of the vertisols are found in the Central Highlands of Ethiopia, with an altitude of more than 1500m above mean sea level. The unique physical and chemical properties of these soils and the high rainfall during the main cropping season create severe surface waterlogging problems which hinder crop production activities. Severe surface waterlogging affects the growth of plants by impeding nutrient uptake and creating oxygen deficiency around the root zone. To address this crop production problem, three surface water drainage methods, namely broad bed and furrow (BBF), ditch, and flat (traditional) methods were evaluated using the water balance of the plant root zone and wheat as a test crop. The experiment was conducted at the Ginchi Research Station in the central highlands of Ethiopia over two consecutive seasons (2000 and 2001). The results showed that both the BBF and the ditch drainage methods gave about 33% and 22% more grain yield than the flat treatment, respectively. However, there were no significant differences between BBF and ditch for both grain and biomass yield during both experimental seasons. During both seasons the total water balance (ΔW r ) at the root zone especially, in the months of June, July and August on all the treatments was higher than the crop water requirement (ETc) and showed no significant difference between the treatments. Thus, the results of this study indicated that the soil water in the root zone was not significantly altered by surface drainage systems and therefore implies the need of further improvement of the different surface drainage methods regarding improving the waterlogging condition and hence the productivity of the vertisols in the Central Highlands of Ethiopia.