Gully control and check dams

Published: 22 January 2020
Last edited: 22 January 2020

Rills develop easily on degraded, steep sites during heavy rains and eventually enlarge to become gullies. Often times the area for planting rainfed annual crops is crossed by gullies. The construction of check dams is necessary to control erosion and capture nutrients, silt and moisture. Either living or dead material can be used for the construction of check dams. Further, check dams should be reinforced by planting bushes and trees alongside the gullies. As the gullies normally originate above the planned plot, this area has to be considered as well. For living material, it is recommended to plant fruit trees and bushes. Investing in gully plugging and check dams is rewarding since it can generate some yield and income in the future. However, living material also attracts livestock; hence the area might need to be fenced.


Sustainable financing
Scale of implementation

Enabling factors

  • This technique does not require specific skills and is low in terms of costs, as long as building materials are available locally and the farmers are willing to contribute with their labor force.
  • Shrubs, bushes and trees of local species as cherry plum, hawthorn, barberry, cherry silverberry etccan be planted for gully plugging which aside from preventing erosion will also yield edible fruits and produce firewood.
  • Gully plugging, and check dams reduce the risk of mudflows and potential floodings further downhill.

Lessons learned

  • This technique is relatively labor-intensive to set-up and maintain and while not providing immediate benefits, therefore, farmers have to be convinced by the benefits.
  • Frequently one farmer family alone is not able to plug a gully, therefore, a collaboration of owners of neighboring fields might be required.