Indigenous knowledge of terrace management for soil and water conservation in the Sikkim Himalaya, India
The main objective of this study was to understand the farmer’s indigenous knowledge of terrace management in the Sikkim Himalaya with reference to Rani Khola watershed. Primary data were collected through a mix of questionnaire surveys, focused group discussions, and field observations with a sample size of 300 households. Detailed documentation of the evolution of the terraces and their types, bunding material, types of risers, the relationship of slope and terraces dimensions, soil and water conservation (SWC) practices were performed. Remote sensing data was used to derive information pertaining to elevation, slope and land-use/cover of the watershed. The study reveals that dimensions and types of terraces are subjected to the elevation, slope gradient, local soil and vegetation cover. Leveled terraces were constructed on lower slopes while outward sloping terraces were more common on higher slopes. It was also observed that with the increase in slope angle, width and length of the terraces decreased. Terrace riser height was also correlated with slope; riser height unavoidably increased as slope increased. The study concludes that terraces in the study watershed are effective in reducing the slope gradient and length, and in turn helpful in trapping eroded soil, slowing soil movement and in due course reducing soil erosion and increasing agricultural productivity. It is suggested that for overall management of terraces, it needs to be combined with additional soil and water conservation practices.
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