Soil Conservation on Sloping Land: Technical Options and Adoption Constraints

  • Thomas Hilger
  • Alwin Keil
  • Melvin Lippe
  • Mattiga Panomtaranichagul
  • Camille Saint-Macary
  • Manfred Zeller
  • Wanwisa Pansak
  • Tuan Vu Dinh
  • Georg Cadisch
Part of the Springer Environmental Science and Engineering book series (SPRINGERENVIRON)


This chapter briefly summarizes the causes and consequences of soil erosion, before presenting examples of effective soil conservation technologies (SCT), such as contour-based cropping, cover crops, mulching and geo-textiles, and based on case studies from northern Thailand and northern Vietnam. Depending on site conditions, a soil erosion reduction of 30–60 % in the first year after establishment and up to 72–98 % by the third year was observed in these studies when compared to local farmers’ practices. In north-east Thailand, maize grain yields increased from 1.5 and 3.2 Mg ha−1, to 3.8 and 5.5 Mg ha−1 under minimum tillage und relay cropping. The study in north-western Vietnam revealed that although the majority of farmers were aware of soil erosion mitigation methods, adoption rates of the promoted soil conservation technologies remained low. These technologies compete for land and labor resources with the main cropping activities, in particular highly profitable commercial maize cultivation, incurring high opportunity costs. Based on these case studies, we conclude that innovative approaches to soil conservation require a change in land use systems, not just the adoption of conventional SCT in the existing systems. The integration of plant and animal production in the uplands should be promoted that allows farmers to benefit from urban-based economic growth on the one hand, such as through the exploitation of niche markets for high-value meat, while being environmentally sustainable on the other. The improved integration of animal husbandry with plant production systems could make feed producing soil conservation options more attractive to farmers, which could be further stimulated by introducing payment for environmental services (PES) schemes.


Avail P

Available phosphorus


Conservation agriculture


Conventional contour planting


Cultivated contour furrow planting with alley cropping


Cultivated contour furrow planting with alley cropping mulched with bio-geotextiles


Carbon-13 isotope




Energie Baden-Württemberg


European Soil Erosion Model


Forest, Agroforest, Low-value Landscape or Wasteland? model


Griffith University Erosion System Template






Integrated Water-harvesting, Anti-erosion, and Multiple cropping


Land Use Change Impact Assessment model




Meters above sea level


Minimum tillage








Payment for environmental services


Soil organic matter


US dollars


Vietnamese dong


Water, Nutrient and Light Capture in Agroforestry Systems model



This research was conducted under the remit of the Uplands Program (SFB 564), as funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), the National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT) and the Ministry of Science and Technology of Vietnam – which is gratefully acknowledged. The authors are also obliged to the EnBW Rainforest Foundation in Germany for their support in the project “Fostering rural development and environmental sustainability through integrated soil and water conservation systems in the uplands of Northern Vietnam”. We would like to thank our scientific counterparts in Thailand, Assoc. Prof. Attachai Jintrawet and Assoc. Prof. Prasit Wangpakapattanawong, and in Vietnam, Prof. Pham Thi My Dung, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tran Duc Vien, and Dr. Nguyen Thanh Lam, for their active support throughout this research. Furthermore, we would like to thank the farmers and local authorities involved in our study, for their willingness to participate in the research. We also would like to thank Gerhard Clemens and Wolfram Spreer for their helpful comments, Gary Morrison for reading through the English, and Peter Elstner for helping with the layout.

Open Access. This chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2013

Open Access This chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Hilger
    • 1
  • Alwin Keil
    • 2
  • Melvin Lippe
    • 1
  • Mattiga Panomtaranichagul
    • 3
  • Camille Saint-Macary
    • 2
  • Manfred Zeller
    • 2
  • Wanwisa Pansak
    • 4
  • Tuan Vu Dinh
    • 1
  • Georg Cadisch
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Plant Production in the Tropics and Subtropics (380a)University of HohenheimStuttgartGermany
  2. 2.Department of Rural Development Theory and Policy (490a)University of HohenheimStuttgartGermany
  3. 3.Department of Plant Science and Natural Resources, Faculty of AgricultureChiang Mai UniversityChiang MaiThailand
  4. 4.Department of Agricultural Science, Faculty of Agriculture, Natural Resources and EnvironmentNaresuan UniversityPhitsanulokThailand

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