WHAT IS CONTOUR FARMING?
Contour farming is the tilling and planting across the slope, following the contour of the land, as opposed to farming up and down hills. There's small ridges that slow the runoff of water. It redirects runoff from a path directly downslope to a path around the hillslope. Contour farming also increases the rate of water infiltration. This practice helps prevent erosion by water while still allowing for the practical advantages of plowing. When on steeper slopes, they may require stripcropping along with contour farming. This practice is sustainable and highly cost effective.
How widely is the practice implemented in both the US and the World?
Contour Farming is very popular on the Pacific Islands. In the U.S, this practice is very popular across the country. The practice is used in states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and New Jersey.
Why is it popular?
The reason why Contour Farming is so popular is because of the practice's success of reducing runoff and soil erosion. The agricultural practice is also very popular because it saves the money of farmers. Contour farming migrates the impact of floods, storms, and landslides on the crops up to 50%, which increases moisture infiltration and retention. This furthers the quality of soil and composition. This increase in soil quality enhances and increases the farmer's yield, which makes this a very popular practice.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Contour Farming
- Reduces soil erosion up to 50%
- Reduces sediment and runoff
- Increases water infiltration.
- Promotes water quality
- Increased moisture retention
- Requires less fuel and labor
- The curved rows are impractical for some farm equipment or drip tape installation.
- Not suitable for lands with heavy overland flows unless these flows can be diverted to safe outlets.
Examples and How the Practice is Used
Some farmers plant an autumn crop that will sprout before the frost sets in. This assures that the land does not remain bare between planting season, preventing unwanted soil erosion and runoff .
In order to contour farm successfully, you will need to live in a hilly or mountainous area. The reduction of runoff will not be as successful if it the farming was located on flat land. This farming practice could be implemented in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. Such as apple orchards or nut crops. This practice could also be implemented in areas that are prone to flooding or storms. The water from the floods, etc. will flow through the dams created by the contour farming, and further the quality of the soil.