Solomon Islands is experiencing population pressure on good and arable land in most rural communities, forcing farmers to move to steep slopes to do farming. However, these steep areas are already infertile and unfavorable, and are highly vulnerable to soil erosion.
In a bid to help control the impacts of erosion in such areas, and to improve crop yields, the project has established ‘soil erosion control and moisture conservation’ trials using different hedge rows at two project sites. These sites are Aruligo on West Guadalcanal and Hunda & Kena on Kolombangara Island in the Western province.
Solomon Islands Project Coordinator, Jules Damutalau, said the trials are undertaken to manage impacts of soil erosion, with the introduction of contour farming using pineapple and vetiver grass as hedgerows.
“A catch pit of 5m x 0.5m x 1m was dug at the bottom of each treatment plot to catch all the eroded soil materials during the course of the trial period,” Damutalau said.
“The size of each demonstration plot is 45m by 15m. It is then divided into seven treatment plots of 10m by five meters.”
“One plot was left for natural re-growth, with vetiver and pineapple on the second and third plots respectively while the other two plots were mixed with vetiver and pineapple hedge rows.
The final plot was planted with cassava without any hedge rows,” he explained.
Damutalau said the objective is to determine the amount of surface runoff caused by rain under conventional farming system; and the use of different hedgerows compared to natural fallow cover over a certain period of time.
He added that the amount of eroded materials collected from each treatment plot will be analyzed and compared at the end of the trials.
A rain gauge made from a 25 liters jerry container and a funnel were placed close to the trial plots to collect the rainfall data.
The two researches will run for a year with the Aruligho trial ending in May 2016, Hunda/Kena ending in June 2016.