Soil and water conservation measures are predominantly applied for the following purposes:
- to control runoff and thus prevent loss of soil by soil erosion, to reduce soil compaction;
- to maintain or to improve soil fertility;
- to conserve or drain water;
- to harvest (excess) water (Tidemann 1996).
A variety of soil and water conservation measures are well known. These technologies can be differentiated either by their main purpose or by type. As many among them fulfil several functions simultaneously these are classified here by type (see figure):
These measures are often used in combination, especially the many traditional soil and water conservation techniques. This is increasingly considered as reasonable. Merely technical approaches are often not successful, especially without participation of the local farmers, forest managers, etc. (Bollom 1993). It has also been recognised that under modern circumstances traditional measures alone may often be insufficient to conserve the vital soil and water resources and have to be supplemented by modern practices to achieve a sustainable resource management (Förch and Schütt 2004 a, b).
More information about soil and water conservation measures are presented on the Website of WOCAT (World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies).
The next pages will give you a short overview of the three types of soil and water conservation measures. Physical measures will be explained first of all.