Chapter 1: Agriculture: Soil and Water Resources, including Irrigation

Other Internet and Print Resources

NOTE: Listing of a resource does not constitute USAID endorsement or certificationReferences and Resources Click to jump to the desired section.

  • Internet sites pertinent to environmental review of the agriculture sector
  • U.S.comparative advantage in soil and water conservation and sustainable agriculture
  • Agriculture and soil and water conservation references
  • FAO publications
  • Irrigation-related references
  • Some references expanding on related subject areas

Internet sites pertinent to environmental review of the agriculture sector


  • The New International Invasive Species Compendium: species are among the largest causes for reduced food production and post-harvest losses, and they can be major vectors for human and animal diseases.  For example, in sub-Saharan Africa the UN estimates the cost of the invasive witchweed is responsible for annual maize losses amounting to $7 billion; and, overall losses to invasive species may amount to over $12 billion for Africa’s eight principal crops.

    This data base/compendium was partially funded by USAID and USDA along with a number of other donors, and it is now available to anyone with access to the internet.  Developed in partnership with CABI (formerly the UK’s Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux, but in 1986 it became a public international organization).

    This is a living compendium and will grow over time.  At the start it includes:

    • Datasheets on over 1500 invasive species and animal diseases.
    • Basic datasheets on further species, countries, habitats and pathways
    • Bibliographic database of over 65,000 records (updated weekly)
    • Full text documents (updated weekly)


  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Public Information Center (3404), 401 M Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20460; tel. (202) 260-2080:


Environment and biodiversity conservation issues, as well as the relationships between natural resources management and agricultural productivity, have become important topics considered by the 16 international research centers that form the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR):


  • The UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Aquastat Web site:
  • Conservation Agriculture in Europe: (good definition of conservation agriculture in executive summary)
  • UN Environment Program (UNEP) Programme on Success Stories in Land Degradation/ Desertification Control:
  • Good Web site under the University of Pennsylvania’s African Studies Center:
  • FAO. Agriculture Food and Nutrition for Africa: A Resource Book for Teachers of Agriculture:
  • FAO. The State of Food and Agriculture 2001:
  • About desertification:
  • International Development Research Centre (IRDC). This Canadian institution is a constant source of information on sustainable agriculture in the developing world:
  • Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). A major international donor supporting soil and water conservation development programs in many countries:
  • Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation project version 2:
  • U.S. Global Change Research Information Office, Geoindicators report:


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Tapping the U.S. Comparative Advantage in Soil and Water Conservation and Sustainable Agriculture


  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) listing of agencies, services and programs:!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB?navtype=MA&navid;=AGENCIES_OFFICES
  • USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program is an emerging program administered by the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES). Although targeted at farming conditions in North America, the conceptual approach and many of its findings can be applied in sub-Saharan Africa: Some of its more noteworthy publications include Building Soils for Better Crops, The Small Dairy Resource Book, Managing Cover Crops Profitably and Source Book of Sustainable Agriculture. It also operates a free e-mail discussion group; to subscribe, send a message to, and in the body of the message, write “subscribe sanet-mg.”
  • The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service Web site offers links to a broad spectrum of information about its programs and information sources related to soil, water and natural resources conservation:
  • The Soil and Water Conservation Society of the United States is an international organization with programs and publications of interest to those in Africa concerned with soil and water conservation and watershed management:
  • The Alternative Farming Systems Information Center offers information resources for farmers and extension agents:
  • Another site providing assistance, publications and resources free to farmers, extension educators and other agriculture professionals is the Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA) network:
  • The Cornell University-managed Agricultural Network Information Center, or AgNic (, is an unparalleled guide to quality agricultural information on the Internet from the National Agricultural Library, land-grant universities, and other institutions. It includes access to Cornell’s Soil Health Portal (, which uses a distributed database technology.
  • The Sustainable Rural Development Information System (SRDIS), cosponsored by Columbia University, the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESEN), and other partners (, is another specialized online library of Internet-based resources.


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Agriculture and Soil and Water Conservation References


  • The African Conservation Tillage Network ( is a network of practitioners who promote adoption of conservation tillage practices in Africa to assure a more sustainable use of soil resources, combat desertification, improve food security and alleviate rural poverty.
  • Africa Bureau Fertilizer Factsheet
    As with any technology, however, it is recommended that fertilizers be thoughtfully employed according to best practice, promoting integrated soil fertility management, within the context of the prevailing biophysical and socioeconomic conditions, as well as the desired outcomes. This fact sheet was developed to assist in that regard. French translation courtesy of USAID/Senegal Wula Nafaa project.

English (129K)

  • Altieri, Miguel A. (2002). “Agroecology: The Science of Natural Resource Management for Poor Farmers in Marginal Environments.” Agricultural Ecosystems and Environment (93): 1-24.
  • Arsyad, Sitanala, Istiqlal Amien, Ted Sheng, and William Moldenhauer (eds.) (1992). Conservation Policies for Sustainable Hillslope Farming. Ankeny, Iowa: Soil and Water Conservation Society of the United States.
  • Clark, Laurie E. and Terry C. H. Sunderland, eds. (2004). The Key Non-Timber Forest Products of Central Africa: State of the Knowledge. Technical Paper No. 122. Washington, D.C.: Office of Sustainable Development, Africa Bureau, USAID.
  • Community Forests and Soil Conservation Development Department (1988). Soil Conservation in Ethiopia. Addis Ababa.
  • Hudson, N., and R.J. Cheatle (1993). Working with Farmers for Better Land Husbandry. London: Intermediate Technology Publications in association with World Association of Soil and Water Conservation.
  • Hurni, Hans (1986). Guidelines for Development Agents on Soil Conservation in Ethiopia. Addis Ababa: Ministry of Agriculture, Community Forestry and Soil Conservation Development Department.
  • Ives, Catherine, Andrea Johanson and Josette Lewis (2001). Agricultural Biotechnology: A Review of Contemporary Issues. Washington, D.C.: Office of Sustainable Development, Africa Bureau, USAID.
  • Kaumbutho, P.G., et al. (1999). Overview of Conservation Tillage Practices in East and Southern Africa. Harare, Zimbabwe: Animal Traction Network for Eastern and Southern Africa (ATNESA).
  • Mellor, John W. (2002). Poverty Reduction and Biodiversity Conservation: The Complex Role for Intensifying Agriculture. Washington: World Wildlife Fund.
  • Mulenga, N.C., et al. (1998). Conservation Tillage Technologies. GCP/RAF/334/SWE Farm-level Applied Research Methods for East and Southern Africa (Farmesa) Programme. Harare, Zimbabwe.
  • Royal Society of London, U.S. National Academy of Sciences et al. (2000). Transgenic Plants and World Agriculture. Washington: National Academy Press.
  • National Environmental Management Council, University of Rhode Island and USAID (2001). Tanzania Mariculture Guidelines Sourcebook. Dar es Salaam.
  • Norman, David, and Malcolm Douglas (1994). Farming Systems Development and Soil Conservation. FAO Farm Systems Management Series, No. 7. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
  • Oygard, Ragnar, Trond Vedeld, and Jens Aune (1999). Good Practices in Drylands Management. As, Norway: Agricultural University of Norway (available from the World Bank).
  • Pereira, H.C. (1989). Policy and Practice in the Management of Tropical Watersheds. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
  • Reij, C., I. Scoones, and C. Toulmin (1996). Sustaining the Soil: Indigenous Soil and Water Conservation in Africa. London: Earthscan Publications Ltd.
  • Rocheleau, D., F. Weber, and A. Field-Juma (1988). Agroforestry in Dryland Agriculture. Nairobi: ICRAF.
  • Sanchez, P.A. (1976). Properties and Management of Soil in the Tropics. New York: John Wiley.
  • Sanchez, P.A. (1994). “Tropical Soil Fertility Research: Towards the Second Paradigm.” Transactions 15th World Congress of Soil Science (Acapulco, Mexico) 1:65-88.
  • Sheng, T.C. (1989). Soil Conservation for Small Farmers in the Humid Tropics. FAO Soils Bulletin No. 60. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
  • Shumway, Caroly A. (1999). Forgotten Waters: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems in Africa. Strategies for Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Development. The Biodiversity Support Program. Boston University, New England Aquarium and USAID.
  • Srivastava, Jitendra, Nigel Smith and Douglas Forno (1996). Biodiversity and Agricultural Intensification: Partners for Development and Conservation. Environmentally Sustainable Development Studies and Monographs No. 11. Washington: World Bank.
  • Tato, Kebebe and H. Hurni (1992). Soil Conservation for Survival. Soil and Water Conservation Society in cooperation with International Soil Conservation Organization and World Association of Soil and Water Conservation. A selection of papers presented at the Sixth International Soil Conservation Conference held in Ethiopia and Kenya, November 1989.
  • Ten Kate, Kerry, and Sarah A. Laird (1999). The Commercial Use of Biodiversity: Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit Sharing. London: Earthscan Publications Ltd.
  • USAID/Government of Malawi/Washington State University (1995). A Field Manual for Agroforestry Practices in Malawi. Malawi Agroforestry Extension Project.


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FAO Publications


  • FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). The FAO Conservation Series, including Guide No. 13, Watershed Management Field Manual, includes five volumes treating the following topics: vegetation and soil treatment measures, gully control, slope treatment measures and practices, landslide prevention measures, and road design and construction in sensitive watersheds.
  • FAO Soils Bulletins include several titles of particular interest to soil and water conservation, including No. 4, Guide to 60 Soil Water Conservation Practices; No. 13, Land Degradation; No. 30, Soil Conservation in Developing Countries; No. 33, Soil Conservation and Management in Developing Countries; No. 34, Assessing Soil Degradation; No. 44, Watershed Development with Special Reference to Soil and Water Conservation; No. 49, Application of Nitrogen-Fixing Systems in Soil Management; No. 50, Keeping the Land Alive: Soil Erosion, Its Causes and Cures; and No. 53, Improved Production Systems as an Alternative to Shifting Cultivation.
  • FAO Web site: Intensifying Crop Production with Conservation Agriculture. A Web site with excellent publications and case studies, including:


  • FAO. Tillage Systems in the Tropics: Management Options and Sustainability Implications. FAO Soils Bulletin 71.
  • FAO. Soil Tillage in Africa: Needs and Challenges. FAO Soils Bulletin 69.
  • FAO. Tillage Systems for Soil and Water Conservation. FAO Soils Bulletin 54.
  • Mulenga, N.C., et al. (1998). Conservation Tillage Technology in Africa. GCP/RAF/334/SWE (FARMESA) Programme. Harare, Zimbabwe.
  • FAO. (1997). Conservation Farming Handbook for Small Holders in Regions I and II. FAO Conservation Farming Unit. Zambia.
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Irrigation-Related References


  • These brief guidelines cannot begin to cover the diversity of small-scale irrigation systems found in Africa, which occur across a variety of ecological, social and geographic settings. Examples include dambos, in southern Africa, the marais in the upland areas of Rwanda and Burundi, bas-fonds in West Africa, and other wetland areas, including the West African coastal mangrove systems bolanhas where rice is produced. Extensive literature collections on these specialized topics can be found in Africa (Zimbabwe, South Africa, Nigeria, Cote D’Ivoire, Egypt, Morocco) and at universities and other institutions worldwide. We hope the references here will lead the reader to these other sources-some broader, some more specialized.
  • Birley, M.J. (1989). Guidelines for Forecasting the Vector-Borne Disease Implications of Water Resources Development. Joint WHO/FAO/UNEP Panel of Experts on Environmental Management for Vector Control. VBC/89-6. A good source of information on the dangers of water- and vector-borne diseases associated with water resources development operations.
  • Catterson, T.M., et al. (1999). Programmatic Environmental Assessment of Small-Scale Irrigation in Ethiopia. Baltimore: Catholic Relief Services; USAID/Ethiopia; USAID Bureau for Africa, Office of Sustainable Development; and USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Response.
  • Catterson, T.M., S.O. Steward and J. Sandoval (1999). Programmatic Environmental Assessment of Small-Scale Irrigation in Guatemala. Baltimore: Catholic Relief Services and USAID/Guatemala. An environmental review of small-scale irrigation, oriented to horticulture-based farming typical of Central America, scrutinized using USAID’s Environmental Regulations (22 CFR 216).
  • Diemer, Geert and Frans P. Huibers (eds.) (1966). Crops, People and Irrigation: Water Allocation Practices of Farmers and Engineers. Intermediate Technology Publications.
  • Dougherty, T.C. and A.W. Hall (1995). Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects. FAO Irrigation and Drainage Paper 53. A technical manual for those interested in a wide variety of water resources development activities and their potential adverse environmental impacts.
  • FAO (1997). Small-scale Irrigation for Arid Zones: Principles and Options. Rome: FAO.
  • FAO (2002). Treadle Pumps for Irrigation in Africa. Rome: FAO.
  • FAO (1981). Torrent Control Terminology (three-language glossary). FAO Conservation Guide No. 6. Rome: FAO. Interesting illustrations of engineering features of some torrent control structures.
  • Geyik, M.P. (1986). FAO Watershed Management Field Manual: Gully Control. FAO Conservation Guide No. 13/2. Rome: FAO.
  • International Water Management Institute (IWMI). One of the centers affiliated with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, IWMI is a key resource for anyone concerned with irrigation:
  • Irrigation Association (www. Provides a variety of technical information and links on irrigation use in American agriculture, including best management practices, a 32-page list with a design data checklist (, and a list of additional irrigation references (
  • Prinz, Dieter, and Anupam Singh (1999). Technological Potential for Improvements of Water Harvesting. Contributing paper prepared for thematic review by the World Commission on Dams, Cape Town. See for more papers.
  • Sikkens, R.B., and T.S. Steenhuis (eds.). (1988). Development and Management of the Small Marais. Water Management Synthesis Project, WMS Report 79. Rwanda: USAID.
  • UNEP (2000). Sourcebook of Alternative Technologies for Freshwater Augmentation in Africa. UNEP Division of Technology, Industry, and Economics. [Osaka, Japan]: UNEP.
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A good source of information on stream bank protection and restoration is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Web site, which offers in-depth technical information on this topic.


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Some References Expanding on Related Subject Areas


  • Ambrogetti, Agostino. Communal Systems of Land Tenure and Fair Access to the Land: The Case of Lesotho.
  • Barrett, Christopher B., et al. (2001). “Agro-industrialization, Globalization, and International Development: The Environmental Implications.” Environment and Development Economics 6: 419-433.
  • Gonzalez, Patrick (January 3, 2002). Program to Monitor Impacts of Desertification and Climate Change in Africa. Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
  • Integrated Coastal Area Management and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. FAO Guidelines. (1998). Rome: FAO.
  • World Conservation Union (IUCN). Towards the Sustainable Management of Sahelian Floodplains: Guidelines Prepared by the Sahelian Wetlands Expert Group.
  • Josserand, Henri P. (2001). Community-Based Natural Resource Management in Africa (CBNRM): A Review. For USAID under RAISE task order. Washington, D.C.: USAID.
  • Laird, Sarah A. (2002). Biodiversity and Traditional Knowledge. London: Earthscan.
  • McNeely, Jeffrey A., and Sara J. Scherr (2001). Common Ground, Common Future: How Eco-Agriculture Can Help Feed the World and Save Wild Biodiversity. Gland, Switzerland, and Washington, D.C.: World Conservation Union (IUCN) and Future Harvest.
  • Thrupp, Lori Ann (1997). Agrobiodiversity Loss: Conflicts and Effects. Washington, D.C.: World Resources Institute.