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Open AccessArticle

Conservation Agriculture Saves Irrigation Water in the Dry Monsoon Phase in the Ethiopian Highlands

1
Faculty of Civil and Water Resources Engineering, Bahir Dar University, Bahir Dar 26, Ethiopia
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International Water Management Institute, Yangon 11081, Myanmar
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Blackland Research Center, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Temple, TX 76502, USA
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Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA
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Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(10), 2103; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11102103
Received: 16 July 2019 / Revised: 13 September 2019 / Accepted: 17 September 2019 / Published: 10 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Water Resources Management and Governance)
Water resources in sub-Saharan Africa are more overstressed than in many other regions of the world. Experiments on commercial farms have shown that conservation agriculture (CA) can save water and improve the soil. Nevertheless, its benefits on smallholder irrigated farms have not been adequately investigated, particularly in dry monsoon phase in the Ethiopian highlands. We investigated the effect of conservation agriculture (grass mulch cover and no-tillage) on water-saving on smallholder farms in the Ethiopian highlands. Irrigated onion and garlic were grown on local farms. Two main factors were considered: the first factor was conservation agriculture versus conventional tillage, and the second factor was irrigation scheduling using reference evapotranspiration (ETo) versus irrigation scheduling managed by farmers. Results showed that for both onion and garlic, the yield and irrigation water use efficiency (IWUE) was over 40% greater for CA than conventional tillage (CT). The soil moisture after irrigation was higher in CA compared with CT treatment while CA used 49 mm less irrigation water. In addition, we found that ETo-based irrigation was superior to the farmers’ irrigation practices for both crops. IWUE was lower in farmers irrigation practices due to lower onion and garlic yield responses to overirrigation and greater water application variability. View Full-Text
Keywords: conservation agriculture; conventional tillage; irrigation scheduling; farmers practice; irrigation water use efficiency conservation agriculture; conventional tillage; irrigation scheduling; farmers practice; irrigation water use efficiency
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Belay, S.A.; Schmitter, P.; Worqlul, A.W.; Steenhuis, T.S.; Reyes, M.R.; Tilahun, S.A. Conservation Agriculture Saves Irrigation Water in the Dry Monsoon Phase in the Ethiopian Highlands. Water 2019, 11, 2103.

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