Contour Farming

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Contour Farming

Contour farming, the practice of tilling sloped land along lines of consistent elevation in order to conserve rainwater and to reduce soil losses from surface erosion. These objectives are achieved by means of furrows, crop rows, and wheel tracks across slopes, all of which act as reservoirs to catch and retain rainwater, thus permitting increased infiltration and more uniform distribution of the water.

Contour farming has been practiced for centuries in parts of the world where irrigation farming is important. Although in the United States the technique was first practiced at the turn of the 19th century, straight-line planting in rows parallel to field boundaries and regardless of slopes long remained the prevalent method. Efforts by the U.S. Soil Conservation Service to promote contouring in the 1930s as an essential part of erosion control eventually led to its widespread adoption.

The practice has been proved to reduce fertilizer loss, power and time consumption, and wear on machines, as well as to increase crop yields and reduce erosion. Contour farming is most effective when used in conjunction with such practices as strip cropping, terracing, and water diversion.


Field windbreaks are linear plantings of trees/shrubs designed to reduce wind speed in open fields, preventing soil erosion and protecting adjacent crops from wind damage.

Field windbreaks are typically planted in multiple rows perpendicular to prevailing winds. On the downwind side of a well-established windbreak, wind is generally slowed for a distance of 10 times the height of the trees. Old field windbreaks may need renovation to function properly, including removal and replacement of selected trees/shrubs.

Why establish or renovate field windbreaks on your farm?

Environmental benefits

■Reduces soil erosion from wind

■Protects water and air quality by providing a barrier against airborne soil, chemical drift, odors and dust

■Provides wildlife food, cover and travel corridors

■Diversifies agricultural landscapes

Practical benefits

■Protects crops from wind damage

■May increase crop yields by 10% or more, especially in dry years

■May improve crop photosynthesis and water use efficiency due to micro-climate changes in temperature and humidity

■Improves irrigation efficiency

■Helps manage snow drifts and soil moisture by dispersing snow more evenly across cropland

■Provides opportunities for additional income from salable tree/shrub products such as nuts, berries and decorative floral material

■Adds scenic interest to fields and may increase property values

Crop Rotation

Crop rotation

Crop rotation is one of the oldest and most effective cultural control strategies. It means the planned order of specific crops planted on the same field. It also means that the succeeding crop belongs to a different family than the previous one. The planned rotation may vary from 2 or 3 year or longer period.

Some insect pests and disease-causing organisms are hosts' specific. For example, rice stem borer feeds mostly on rice. If you don't rotate rice with other crops belonging to a different family, the problem continues as food is always available to the pest. However, if you plant legume as the next crop, then corn, then beans, then bulbs, the insect pest will likely die due to absence of food.

Advantages of crop rotation

1. Prevents soil depletion

2. Maintains soil fertility

3. Reduces soil erosion

4. Controls insect/mite pests. Crop rotation as a means to control to insect pests is most effective when the pests are present before the crop is planted have no wide range of host crops; attack only annual/biennial crops; and do not have the ability to fly from one field to another.

5. Reduces reliance on synthetic chemicals

6. Reduces the pests' build-up

7. Prevents diseases

8. Helps control weeds

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