ECONOMIC IMPACT OF BENCH TERRACES ON SOIL EROSION CONTROL
1.1 Background of the study
Soil erosion is commonly recognized as one of the main factors of land degradation
worldwide. Other forms of soil degradation are soil compaction, loss of organic matter,
loss of soil structure, poor internal drainage, salinization and soil acidity (Ananda and
Herath, 2003; Beskow et al, 2009; Valentin et al. 2005). Terraces are usually reported
as a remedy for soil erosion control in regions with combinations of steep slopes,
humid climatic conditions and poorly consolidated soils and substrata. Nevertheless, in
some cases the effectiveness of terracing is limited, especially in areas with sparse
vegetation (Zuazo et al. 2006). Terraces in some areas, especially in rural areas in
developing countries, found to be expensive to construct and maintain (Ramos et al.
Land degradation by water erosion can be measured through three parameters: soil
depth, soil organic matter content and soil texture. A degraded soil would have a
shallow depth, low organic matter content and low clay fraction (Zuazo etal., 2006).
Consequently, soil depth, slopes, structure and texture, cropping patterns, rainfall and
landscape are key factors to take into consideration prior to any installation of any soil
erosion control structure, particularly the installation of bench terraces. The
construction of these structures (bench terraces) is expensive and technically complex
(Bizoza, 2012). The productivity impacts of land degradation are due to a decline in
land quality on site where degradation occurs (erosion) and off site where sediments
are deposited (Eswaran et al. 2001). Furthermore, the battle against soild degradation and desertification is also crucial from an economic point of view considering the high productivity impacts and losses
Statement of the Problem
Soil resources are vital assets needed by small-scale farmers in developing countries to
produce sufficient crops in order to achieve food security and income (Vlek, 2006).
However, in many African regions, such as in East Africa, rapid population growth and unfavourable economy have exerted great pressures on soil resources. Thus, farmers in East Africa, who cultivate on fragile environments such as steep hill-slopes with high levels of rainfall, have experienced tremendous soil degradation and severe crop yield decline on their lands (Stoorvogel and Smaling,1990).
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