Effectiveness of Contour Farming and Filter Strips on Ecosystem Services

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The failing ecosystem services in Thika-Chania catchment is manifested in the deterioration of water quality, sedimentation of reservoirs, and subsequent increase in water treatment costs due to high turbidity. The services can be restored by implementing relevant soil and water conservation practices to enhance flow regulation and control sediment yield. The impacts of contour farming and filter strips on water and sediment yield were evaluated using Soil Water and Assessment Tool (SWAT), Texas A&M University, USA. Sediment calibration and validation was achieved using data obtained from a bathymetric survey. Model parameters were adjusted to simulate the conservation impacts of contour farming and filter strips. Results indicated the average annual sediment yield as 22 t/ha at the outlet of the catchment and average annual surface runoff of 202 mm. The simulation results showed that filter strips of 5 m width would reduce the average annual sediment yield from the catchment by 54%. The efficacy of filter strips in reducing sediment yield was observed to increase with increasing filter width. Three-meter filter strips and contour farming reduced the average annual sediment yield at catchment outlet by 46% and 36%, respectively. It was concluded that the implementation of contour farming and filters strips reduced sediments by 63% from the base value. Water yield at the sub-basin level was only influenced by contour farming. The total water yield at the catchment outlet experienced no significant change.


  • John Ng’ang’a Gathagu
  • Khaldoon A Mourad
  • Joseph Sang
External organisations
  • Pan African University
  • Jomo-Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Water Engineering
Original languageEnglish
Article number1312
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Sep 22
Publication categoryResearch