Abstract Creating conditions to induce maximum infiltration and minimum soil particle loaded runoff is the basic principle of water management for rainfed farming on erosion susceptible soil. The objective of this study was to develop a voluntarily adoptable practice that fulfils these conditions. Factors involved in plot infiltration and soil loss were analysed to form groups of indices to evaluate conditions of infiltration and soil loss. Field experiments were carried out in ustifluvent soil on a specially created erosion susceptible set of runoff plots of variable sizes (constant width and increasing lengths) and constant area with variable shapes ( L/ B ratio of 1, 4 and 16). Infiltration and soil loss data for individual rainstorm and accumulated yearly values established that a land formation of 18 m length for broad land form and a 0.9 m wide strip as secondary operation induced maximum infiltration and minimum soil loss. The land formation is related to agricultural practice so as to avoid runoff accumulation and maintain overland flow in bare as well as planted fields. This practice has been demonstrated to be voluntarily adoptable and can be performed with ordinary tractor and some minor equipment. Such land formation supports water conservation and minimises rill and gully formation. The danger of water logging or excessive erosion due to breaching that may occur as a result of excessively intense rainfall is also reduced.