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Terrace Farming: The Benefits of Applying Conservation Measures



What is Terrace Farming?

Terrace farming makes steps or flat surfaces on a piece of slope plane, which can be used to plant crops and other agricultural activities.

It is a very effective type of farming for sloppy landscapes. That is why it is termed terrace farming. The steps or flat surfaces are used to grow different types of crops.

The main benefit of using the terrace farming method is that it decreases soil erosion. This farming practice is often used to cultivate plants that require substantial water, such as rice.

How terrace farming started and examples

Our ancestors started as hunter-gatherers to provide food for themselves and live through harsh winters. As communities began to form, they had to look for other means to feed the large numbers of people, and that is how farming was developed.

Farms were made around communities to ensure that they had enough food to feed everyone. However, what about those communities that formed in mountainous areas? How did they create farms?

Well, the answer lies with the Inca tribe, who showed us how to incorporate terrace farming system because of their landscape and topography. They had to look for ways to build farms in mountainous areas.

Historians suggest that the Inca people built terraces to cultivate plants like corn, which could be used to make other products.

These people were very innovative and excellent growers who produced a wide range of crops in all types of weather and landscapes.

With the advancement of technology, they began building complex and strong terraces. The terraces were built with rocks, not evenly designed, and matched the contours of the


They planted one crop type on each field, giving them a variety of foods and making the local community prosper.

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Common Types

Nowadays, the most popular type of terraces that are built is parallel terraces. They are called that way because the terraces are made parallel to each other. They are built to decrease the loss of crops due to point rows and reduce interference in farming activities by making enough space available for farming equipment to move.

In areas where contour terrace farming techniques are practiced, level channels are created to trap water, ensuring that it gets into the soil. In other regions that are humid, the channels are built to direct water to an outlet.

Parallel tile outlet terraces are also created parallel and convey water through underground channels. The terraces that hold water behind the ridge, which are later removed through inlets on the surface, are called PTO terraces. A regulator is placed in the surface inlet to control the amount of water that is discharged from the terrace. So, farmers can control the level of soil moisture when necessary depending on the crop type being cultivated.

Graded terraces are created to reduce the level of water that runoffs during heavy rains. It is best for growing crops that do not need much moisture to grow.

Level terraces are made to hold large amounts of water and are excellent for producing crops such as rice that require lots of moisture to grow. When it rains, the terraces hold the water for longer periods creating the perfect environment for water-dependent plants to flourish.

Benefits and Disadvantages

Terrace farming has been practiced for centuries because of its benefits to those living in hill or mountainous regions. However, it also comes with some disadvantages.

Benefits of terrace farming

The most evident advantage of terrace farming is the prevention of soil erosion. Erosion occurs when fast running water or strong winds wash away the top layer of soil required for cultivation. Terracing decreases the speed of water going downhill, so it does not have enough power to erode the soil.

Besides preventing erosion, level terraces also hold water for longer periods which is beneficial for cultivating crops like rice. The water collected by the terrace gets absorbed into the land, creating the best environment for water-dependent crops.

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Disadvantages of Terrace Farming

The most prominent disadvantage of terrace farming is that soil may get oversaturated with water, especially during heavy downpours leading to water overflow that will cause floods and damage to surrounding property. Also, if the terraces are not well-maintained, they can collapse and damage crops and property.

Building and maintaining terraces requires lots of hard work, and if it is not well-built can lead to disasters. Terracing has also been shown to decrease soil quality over time.

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