Effects of land management practices and land cover types on soil loss and crop productivity in Ethiopia: A review

Identifying land management practices (LMPs) that enhance on-site sediment management and crop productivity is crucial for the prevention, reduction, and restoration of land degradation and contributing to achieving land degradation neutrality (LDN). We reviewed studies in Ethiopia to assess the effects of LMPs on soil loss (84 studies) and crop productivity (34 studies) relative to control practice. Yield variability on conserved lands was assessed using 12,796 fixed plot data. Effects of LMP on soil loss were 0.5–55 t ha−1y−1 compared to control practices yielding 50 to 140 t ha−1y−1. More than 55% of soil loss records revealed soil loss less than the tolerable rate (10 t ha−1). Area closure, perennial vegetation cover, agronomic practices, mechanical erosion control practices, annual cropland cover, and drainage groups of practices led to 74.0 ± 18.3%, 69.0 ± 24.6%, 66.2 ± 30.5%, 66.1 ± 18.0%, 63.5 ± 20.0%, and 40 ± 11,1% soil loss reduction, respectively. A yield increase of 25.2 ± 15.0%, 37.5 ± 28.0%, and 75.4 ± 85.0% was found from drainage, agronomy, and mechanical erosion control practices, respectively. The average yield loss by erosion on fields without appropriate land management practice and on conserved fields was 26.5 ± 26.0% and 25 ± 3.7%, respectively. The findings suggest that practices that entail a continuous presence of soil cover during the rainy season, perennial vegetation, retention of moisture, and barriers for sediment transport were most effective at decreasing soil loss and increasing productivity. This review provides evidence to identify the best LMP practices for wider adoption and inform decision-making on LMP investments towards achieving sustainable solutions to reverse land degradation.