Digging irrigation ponds and drainage control as drought strategies in dry regions

Practice abstract


In Sweden, strategies to cope with drought have gained importance during the last decade because of the ongoing climate change recurrent summer drought. Åke Johansson, Färjestaden has a farm with 320 dairy cows in one of the driest regions in Sweden, Öland. There are several parts in his drought strategy:

  • When establishing ley, the whole sowing process has to be quick to retain soil moisture.
  • Lucerne is an essential part of the seed mixture. It is inoculated and sprayed with Basagran 5G against weeds.
  • Controlled traffic farming (CTF) saves the legumes from clearly obvious wheel tracks.
  • Drainage control is beneficial. Åke minimises unnecessary drainage by soil dams in open ditches.
  • Harvest starts immediately when the sward starts to dry out.

Irrigation equipment was installed in 2015 on a dairy farm with 140 cows plus recruitment, owned by Mattias and Christer Wahlström in Skärlöv, close to the Baltic Sea. A pond that occupies 2-8 ha and holds 125,000 m3 collects surface water during the rainy seasons. With 5.5 km of pipeline and 30 sprayers, 130 ha can be irrigated at a time, using two cannons and a boom. Forage yield increased by 300% thanks to this investment! That released 35 h of arable land for cash crops.

Abstract also available in:

Dutch | French | German | Italian | Polish | Swedish


Additional information

Farming system

conventional farming

Domains of innovation

farm system, forage mixture, machinery, tools

Main types of animal

dairy cattle



Product type

Practice abstract



You may also like…

Translate »