Raised bed planting initiative in Egypt shows increased yields, water savings
The ICARDA-managed program has introduced a change in wheat farming techniques. Conventional flat fields that require water to be spread over the entire surface is an inefficient use of the farmer's time and water resources. Instead, farmers are encouraged to plant their crops on ridges of soil and apply irrigation water to the furrows between the rows. As the water soaks into the soil, it waters the roots of the wheat. In addition, as the wheat grows taller, it shades the furrows and reduces water loss through evaporation.
In the first phase of the program in Egypt, the raised bed technique results included average savings of 25 percent in irrigation water, a 30 percent increase in grain yield and a 30 to 50 percent saving in the amount of seed sowed in the fields. The technique also required less of the farmer's time and less fuel to run the irrigation pumps. Irrigating one hectare of wheat in a raised bed field took 29.4 hours, while irrigating a flat field of the same size took 43.9 hours.
The technique was also tested in the Sudan and Morocco. Yields in Sudan increased by 15 percent and water-use efficiency in Morocco increased by 13 percent.