Drylands span more than 40 % of the global land area and house about 38 % of the world population. Agriculture in dryland areas is and will remain central to the provision of food and livelihoods for the ever-escalating global population. The biggest challenges faced by farmers in the drylands are unsustainable crop yields, frequent drought spells, weather variability, high rates of soil erosion, deforestation, and loss of germplasm diversity. The adoption of conservation agriculture-a system based on the least soil disturbance, residue retention and diversified rotations, rainwater harvesting and the efficient use of water, and crop diversification-may help to improve sustainability in dryland agriculture. However, an in-depth empirical analysis should be done for each region to provide a basis for research priorities. In this chapter, we discuss (1) the development of innovative water harvesting and management options since water is a catalyst for development in dryland areas, (2) the need to diversify dryland systems with more focus on crop-livestock systems, and (3) that institutional innovations, building partnerships, linkages, and capacity may speed up development in these areas. We propose methods to deal with and to manage drylands as agroecosystems to boost their productivity on a sustainable basis.
- Conservation agriculture
- Crop-livestock interaction
- Water harvesting
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Engineering
- General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
- General Environmental Science