Soil use and management vol:21 issue:3 pages:287-297
Use of stone bunds to enhance soil and water conservation was first introduced to Tigray, northern Ethiopia in 1981. This study was designed to examine the factors that control the effectiveness of bunds installed on cropland. Qualitative and quantitative assessments of soil loss and sediment accumulation were conducted on 202 plots at 12 representative sites in Dogu'a Tembien district. Mean annual soil loss from the foot of the bunds due to tillage erosion was estimated at 39 kg m(-1) yr(-1) or 20 t ha(-1) yr(-1), a rate which decreased with increasing age of bund. The assessed mean annual soil loss rate by sheet and rill erosion in the absence of stone bunds is 57 t ha(-1) yr(-1). The mean measured annual rate of sediment accumulation behind the stone bunds is 119 kg m(-1) yr(-1) or 59 t ha(-1) yr(-1). The measurements show that the introduction of stone bunds to the region has led to a 68% reduction in annual soil loss due to water erosion. This reduction is due to the accumulation of sediment behind the stone bunds, which occurs faster in the early years after construction and decreases as the depression behind the bunds becomes filled with sediment. New stone bunds are particularly effective in trapping sediment in transport, but regular maintenance and increase in height of the bunds is necessary to maintain their effectiveness. The average USLE P factor for stone bunds in the study area is estimated to be 0.32.