|Ploughing is a necessary process of land preparation for the planting of crops, but in Sub-Saharan Africa, due to environmental conditions, the process can often ultimately lead to soil degradation and problems of erosion.|
In Ethiopia, a system of 'tied ridging' has been introduced by Self Help Africa as a means of minimising soil damage, and at the same time optimising the use of available water for the crops which are grown.
The practice involves either planting the crop in small furrows on the flat and making ridges during crop development, or planting the crop on prepared ridges, and then blocking the furrows at regular intervals.
These ties act as mini-dams, which collect the rainwater and minimise the flow of water off the field. They are effective in both a wet and dry season. In a wet season, the crop is elevated on the ridge and suffers less from water-logging. In a dry season, the trapping of rainfall and conserving it in the field enhances the yield.
Special ploughshare fittings have been devised by local artisans for the purpose, and are able to be manually fitted to the existing cattle drawn ploughs with relative ease.
Tied ridging requires much draught power and labour, but it is possible to have a permanent ridge system, which is simply maintained from year to year. Permanent ridge tillage controls the traffic in the field and leaves a compaction-free zone under each ridge.
There is also available appropriate machinery, both for animal draught and tractor draught to manage ridge tillage and tied ridging systems.