Appropriate Technology Asia

Water Conservation

In environments where net rainfall is exceeded by net evaporation losses, creative approaches to agriculture are required to make best use of available water.

The simple practices of green manuring, no-till agriculture and mulching, (the technique of incorporating easily decomposable plant material onto or in the soil surface) are simple low-cost solutions. Suitable materials and practices are often found indigenously and can include either crops grown specifically for organic fertilizer, pebbles and stones, or plant materials brought from outside the field. These materials serve the dual purpose of reducing surface evaporation of water from the soil, and also over time increase the depth of humus, improving fertility and increasing soil moisture retention.

ATA is also developing innovative moisture-cycling greenhouses designed to trap and condense the water in evapo-transpired air from the crowing crops, before feeding it back into the soil to reduce the requirement for irrigation in greenhouses. This, coupled with rainwater harvesting techniques, provides low cost and low maintenance options for water collection in arid environments.