Contour Laser Guiding for the Mechanized “Vallerani” Micro-catchment Water Harvesting Systems
Mechanized construction of micro-catchments for water harvesting (WH) was successfully tested in the Badia (dry rangeland) areas in Syria and Jordan, using the “Vallerani” plow, model Delfino (50 MI/CM), manufactured by Nardi, Italy. The plow was able to construct intermittent and continuous contour ridges, and could potentially be used to rehabilitate degraded rangelands. However, one major issue for large-scale implementation is the high cost and time required to manually identify contours for the plow to follow. Most existing auto-guiding systems, as usually used in road construction and agricultural land leveling, were expensive or impractical. The objective, therefore, was to add, adapt, and evaluate an auto-guiding system to enable a tractor to follow contours without demarcation through conventional surveying. A low-cost Contour Laser Guiding (CLG) system, with specifications that suit the contour ridging in undulating topographic conditions of dry rangelands, was chosen, adapted, mounted, and tested, under actual field conditions. The system consisted mainly of a portable laser transmitter and a tractor-mounted receiver, connected to a guidance display panel. The system was field-tested on 95 ha of land where the system capacity was determined under different terrains, slopes (1-8%), and ridge spacings (4-12 m). The easy adaptation and implementation of the CLG to the “Vallerani” unit tripled the system capacity, improved efficiency and precision, and substantially reduced the cost of constructing micro-catchments for WH. The system is recommended for large-scale rangeland rehabilitation projects in the dry areas, not only in West Asia, but worldwide.