This Toolbox element was created in cooperation with high school students. Read more here.
Aquaponic farming is a combination of aquaculture (in this case, growing Asian clams) and hydroponics (growing plants without soil). The main advantage of aquaponic farming is that the system is easy to operate as you only need to circulate the water, to feed the animals and to harvest the plants. The most obvious advantage is that two food sources can be grown in one system. In order to demonstrate the benefits of an aquaponic system, pupils of the Goethe Schule Harburg (School in Hamburg) built a small-scale model under supervision of their teacher Olaf Zeiske. It consisted of four compartments along with a pump and circulation system and they continually monitored the circulation of nutrients.
Here is the report from Felix Leuner and Emil Regelski on their version of an aquaponic system:
We ran the model for six months. During which, we observed that green algae caused many problems. Therefore, it must be monitored closely. Without proper maintenance, the algae would build-up in the tubes of the circulation system and, finally, clog them. To prevent this from happening, a screen could be placed at the inlets of the tubes or bigger tubes could be used.
Due to the fact that we built the system in direct sunlight, we lost much water due to evaporation. This was done with the intention of providing the algae with as much sunlight as possible. Our recommendation would be to construct an aquaponic farm in half-shade. By doing this, you can prevent the system from both overgrowth of algae and also too much evaporation.
This check dam design tool helps you to design a check dam. It shows an example of a longitudinal view of a check dam section in a catchment. Each check dam needs a design accordingly to its location. Therefore, after you decided on a perfect spot with suitable local building material, you need to calculate the specific dam measurements. Click the green plus-buttons and a manual will pop up. They specify the calculation of certain values such as the size (height, length, width) of a check dam or the space between each check dam.
Did you know that smallholder farmers produce as much as 70 % of the world’s food? What is more, organic agriculture is developing rapidly and the share of agricultural land and farms continues to grow in many countries. What are the characteristics of small organic farms and why are their important for sustainable development?
Click through the hotspots to find out!
Toilet etiquette refers to toilet and hygiene culture and manners, which naturally vary across cultures. Beyond these cultural variations, there are severe differences in access to basic sanitation across the globe. Universal access to adequate sanitation is a fundamental need and human right. Click through the tool below to learn more.
Rural households often have to rely on decentralised systems for their wastewater treatment and sanitation needs. The following image gives an overview of a recommended integrated decentralised wastewater treatment system for a rural household. The system is based on the concept of ecological sanitation, involving separation of brown, grey and yellow water through source control schemes. It focuses on the extraction of nutrients from brown and yellow water. The reuse of greywater for non-potable purposes is also integrated in order to help to close nutrient and water cycles. Please click on the hotspots in the image for more information.
Conventional livestock production has severe impacts on the environment, which affect its every medium. Click on the hotspots below to learn more about these impacts! Keep in mind that this image is meant as symbolic, in order to draw direct connections between livestock and the environmental medium at hand. In reality, animals in conventional farming systems are usually raised in confinment, in so called animal feeding operations (AFO) or confined animal feeding operations (CAFO). Not only does this way of keeping animals affect the environment, but it also has severe negative imacts on animal livelihood.
Semi-circular bunds represent a land-based rainwater harvesting technique which is mostly used for rangeland improvement and fodder production. Click on the hotspots to learn more!
This Toolbox Element was developed in collaboration with newTree and represents a practical implementation of this technique on their project site. Read more about newTree here.
The following image comprises the most common soil erosion control measures. Nevertheless, there are more measures that can help prevent soil from eroding and these should always be considered individually for each field. Click on the dots for more information.
Did you know that some of the first traditional rainwater harvesting methods date back as far as 4500 years BCE?
Over centuries, people in diverse geographical positions relied on rainwater as their main water source and developed indigenous knowledge and techniques to it. Traditional water management techniques changed according to the amount of rainfall and its distribution, as well as the type of soil, its depth and landscape it is embedded in. All of these factors and conditions have an influence on the development of traditional rainwater harvesting methods. This Traditional Rainwater Harvesting Timeline gives you a chronological insight into these developments.
Contribute to the Rainwater Harvesting Timeline by contacting us.
Rainwater harvesting from macro-catchments describes the utilisation of rainwater in an area apart from the rainfall area. Macro-catchment rainwater harvesting is especially beneficial to buffer water shortages in arid, semi-arid and sub-humid zones with extended dry seasons and rainfalls that vary highly over time. In most cases, the harvested water is used for agricultural purposes.
Click on the green hotspots to reveal the main components of these rainwater harvesting systems!
Sand dams are implemented across and into seasonal sandy riverbeds in order to capture and store water beneath sand. In addition to this, groundwater recharge occurs upstream of the sand dam. The first requirement for implementing sand dams is the existence of a seasonal river with sufficient and accessible sandy sediment and bedrock in the river-bed. Find out more about sand dams design by clicking on the purple hotspots in the image below,
Help the RUVIVAL Team, if you have pictures of the sand dam construction process and want to share them with us and the world contact us and we will integrate them in this tool. Help to create change!
Find the right placing for each of the sand dam elements on the list on the right. Check out your knowledge on sand dams by completing this overview.
Land-based rainwater harvesting systems are very versatile and entail various techniques, which can be combined to achieve optimal results. If applied properly, their benefits extend beyond collecting rainfall and are an important measure to help farmers cope with the effects of climate change. Increased efficiency in water use enables an increase in biomass production and erosion control. Have a look at the tool below and see how familiar you are with the different elements of RWH systems. You should connect the right name with the corresponding element in the picture. If you are having trouble, check out the rest of the Toolbox!
Click on the purple hotspots to learn more about the rainwater harvesting landscape.
This Toolbox element was created in cooperation with high school students. Read more here.
The wet rice agriculture tool gives you a visual overview of the rice plant and rice management. Click on the red hotspots for more information on specific system features!
All water on or surrounding the surface of the Earth is contained in the hydrosphere. What’s more, all water on Earth is connected and it doesn’t stay in one place, but it constantly moves and changes form. Click on the different elements of the hydrosphere in the image below to learn more about this!
A certain amount of water is necessary for proper crop nourishment. When this water is not naturally available, irrigation makes it possible to compensate for water deficits. Even when the amount of rainfall is sufficient, its spatial and temportal distribution may not be as required. Both underwatering and overwatering lead to soil problems, root and turf diseases, nutritional deficiencies and reduced plant yields. To ensure success of the irrigation system, monitoring, managing and maintaining the system is necessary.
Choosing the right irrigation system
Choosing the right irrigation system has profound environmental and economic effects. The chosen method needs to complement the terrain, type of plants and gardening goals, in order to maximise plant productivity and minimise water usage and energy costs. Understanding the main advantages and disadvantages of irrigation systems can help you select the one that suits your needs the best. To learn more, drag the statements and drop them to the right system on the image to reveal different system properties.
Recommended further reading:
Do you know low cost methods of managed aquifer recharge? Sort the words in the correct boxes!
You had the chance to familiarise yourself with the different Managed Aquifer Recharge Methods (MAR). Now you can test your knowledge of the different elements that make up these systems. Drag the right terms and drop them to their appropriate place on the image. Good luck!
Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) is the intentional recharge of water to aquifers. MAR measures play an important role in controlling over-abstraction and restoring groundwater balance.
Click on the purple hotspots to learn more about the specific MAR methods.
The interactive Terra Preta Sanitation image provides you a visual overview of the toilet design model, which was conceptualised for the usage in different cultural environments. Click on the hotspots to learn more!
Agrofestry systems in the Ethiopian highlands and valleys are growing fruits, vegetables, corn, tree crops, fodder with animals like chickens roaming in between. In contrast to monocultures in conventional agriculture, the combination of crops with trees in agroforestry systems provides an array of positive effects, especially in regard to soil protection, erosion prevention and biodiversity. These systems show that the combination of agriculture and forestry can provide farmers with yields from ample sources whilst maintaining the land with a sustainable practice.
The following images show examples of agroforestry systems in practice in different locations in Ethiopia. These pictures were taken during a research stay at the Slope Farming Project in Arba Minch. Click on the hotspots to learn more about the synergies in this agroforestry system!
A garden lot with a variety of fruits and vegetables in the Catholic Mission of Arba Minch, Ethiopia.
Moringa trees and Mango trees are incorporated into a banana plantation in the rural area around Arba Minch, Ethiopia.
Subsistence farmers are growing corn in the highlands around Arba Minch, Ethiopia.
A silk factory, which is producing its own silkform fodder intercropped with some fruit trees in Arba Minch, Ethiopia.
A backyard of a family house producing some crops together with chickens in the highlands, Chencha, Ethiopia.
A small mountain village named Koira, Ethiopia, where all crops are grown in diverse multi-species systems including trees.
Vegetables and apple trees are grown together in a small farming plot in the highlands of Chencha, Ethiopia.
Recommended further reading:
The living terraces scheme provides you with a visual overview of how the system evolves over time. Click on the yellow hotspots for more information on specific features!
What are agro-silvopastoral systems?
Agro-silvopastoral systems is a collective term for land-use systems, which combine a woody component (trees or shrubs) with cattle on the same site. These systems represent a model of production and conservation based on silvi-culture, the practice of growing trees, complementary to pre-existing agricultural activities.
It is foremost in drylands that forests and agrosilvopastoral systems play crucial economic, social and environmental roles. These include improved environmental sustainability and resilience of wider landscapes. These systems harbour species that are particularly well adapted to extreme ecological conditions and provide essential goods and environmental services.
Agrosilvopastoral systems are of great importance for sustaining rural communities in drylands, especially low-income communities. For example, agro-silvopastoral systems in Africa provide around 320 million people with basic needs such as medicinal supplies and woodfuel.
Components of an agro-silvopastoral system
The agro-silvopastoral system tool gives you a visual overview of the synergies in this system. Click on the green hotspots for more information on specific system features!
Recommended further readings: