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Contour Plowing

Last updated: November 4, 2018

What Does Contour Plowing Mean?

Contour plowing is the act of farming on a hill or a contoured area. The plow follows the contours of the land horizontally helping to reduce runoff of water. This practice helps to prevent soil erosion in hilly and contoured areas by capturing the water runoff using water breaks to keep water contained.

Contour plowing is also known as contour farming, and is a sustainable form of agriculture.

Safeopedia Explains Contour Plowing

Contour farming is done in hilly and sloped areas. Farmers who practice contour farming start by cutting levels into the hill or contoured area. This creates a series of steps on the hill on which crops are grown. Small ridges or raised platforms known as water breaks are built along the rims of these individual steps in order to prevent the water from just running down the hill. These water breaks help to keep the water contained in individual step levels to allow for more time for this water to be absorbed by the ground on each of these levels. In less steep areas, the land is simply plowed following the contours horizontally.


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