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60 Ways Farmers Can Protect  Surface Water
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16. Farm on the Contour

Countoured field With contouring, you perform farming operations across the slope, following the shape, or contour, of the land.

From the air, contouring presents dramatic patterns on the land. But in terms of erosion control, the real drama takes place closer to earth.

furrows in a Countoured field The small furrows and ridges that you create act like dams, trapping runoff water, sediment, nutrients, and pesticides, and directing them along graded crop rows to outlets such as grassed waterways or field borders.
Countoured field The results, some say, are reductions in soil erosion up to 50 percent on gentle slopes when compared with up and down hill farming. On very steep slopes, the erosion reduction will be less—possibly as low as 10 percent.
Tractor in a contoured field Contouring also offers possible savings in fuel and reduced wear and tear on machinery and equipment. Some farmers report that it takes less power to farm across the slope than up and down hills.
Countoured field However, tilling, planting, and harvesting fields along the contour become increasingly difficult as the number of dips, draws, ridges, and elevation changes increase. The number of point rows, short rows, and rows requiring turning and doubling back also increases. To put it another way, contouring is both a science and an art.
Turnstrip It is inevitable that odd areas will develop where different contour patterns meet, or in other areas. The two most common techniques for dealing with odd areas are turnstrips. . .
Butt System . . . or butt systems.

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