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10th International Rainwater Catchment Systems Conference
"Rainwater International 2001"
Mannheim, Germany - September 2001

Section 4: Rainwater Catchment in Agriculture

Paper 4.9

Mini-Catchment Technique for Crop Production and Forestationin Semiarid Areas

Li Yuanhong and Zhu Qiang
Gansu Research Institute for Water Conservancy (GRIWAC)
Lanzhou 730000


The total amount of water resources in the Gansu province is 29.494 billion m3. The water resources per capita are only 1171 m3, less than 1/7 of that in the world. Due to the effect of topographic and climatic conditions, water resources are unfavorable distributed both in space and time. The annual precipitation is 250-450 mm and in more than 70% of the areas, rain is concentrated in the period from July to September. There is a great difference between the time of crop water demand and rain occurrence. In the past it has not been possible to guarantee water supply for both domestic use and crop irrigation. To solve the serious water shortage, rainwater harvesting projects have been carried out since the 1980's and showed satisfying results. The most successful project is the so-called "121" Project: the provincial government helped the farmers to build one rainwater collection field of 100m2, two water cellars and one piece of land for courtyard economy. The drinking water problem of more than 250,000 households and their livestock has thus been solved. After that, a rainwater harvesting and irrigation project has been conducted to provide supplemental irrigation during the critical period of crop growth. However, in many remote mountainous areas, farmers do not have enough funds to build their rainwater collection fields and water tanks. A new technique of mini-catchment has been tested, demonstrated and replicated. Using this technique, one only needs to cover the strip lands between the crop lines with plastic film during sowing. When it rains, the water will concentrate on the cropping areas and increase the moisture surrounding the crops. The method is simple, cheap and affordable for the farmers and effective for increasing the yield.

PDF of full document (4pp, 70kb)

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