Water Trenches

Water trenches are dug mainly as a means to harvest water and channel it into the field to the plants. However, they can also help to control soil erosion. The larger the trench, the more water it will harvest.

A trench can be any length but should, ideally, be about 2 ft wide and at least 1 ft deep. Trenches must be dug across the gradient (or slope) of the field.

Field size and gradient will determine how many trenches are needed, and how far apart they should be. The bigger the field, the closer the trenches. Preferably, one trench should be dug after every two lines of plants (6m-8m apart).

Fields with a steep gradient will require more trenches to arrest water runoff. In some cases, grass may have to be planted on the upper side of the trenches to further reduce erosion. Any type of grass can be used, but vetiver grass is very good for this purpose. It is best to dig trenches either before the bananas are planted, it is best to dig trenches either before the bananas are planted, or as soon as possible afterwards.

If trenches are dug when the plants are established and growing, the roots will be damaged. Over time, as soil is washed into them, the trenches will ‘silt up’, so they will need to be reopened and maintained.

Forking the soil in the trenches, to break any hard crust that may have formed and loosen it, is also important and will ensure that the water can percolate into the field.

National Banana Research Program (NBRP) is a program under the National Agricultural Research Laboratories (NARL) with mandate to develop and promote technologies for enhancing the contribution of banana value chains for food security & Agro - Industrialisation.
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