Contour strip cropping is a farming practice designed to minimize soil erosion. Farming is practiced with the contour of the hillside or across the slope to slow water runoff during a rain. Fields are arranged in alternating strips of an erodible cropping practice such as corn or soybeans with a soil conserving practice such as hay.
The picture above was taken today. The tilled fields were planted to corn May 12th. The green fields are alfalfa/orchardgrass hay fields which will be cut for hay three times in the summer and grazed by cattle once in the fall.
The narrow green strip in the middle of the corn field is a waterway. It is important to not till in a natural swale or waterway to prevent erosion. The large green strip across the bottom of the picture is the largest waterway on my farm. The farmer who owned my farm before me said that when he bought the farm around 1940 there was a ditch big enough to drive a tractor in. The early farmers didn’t understand some of the conservation practices we use today. They cleared the land and plowed and planted wheat.
[…] June 5, 2009. Hay fields raked and ready to be baled. These are the same fields that were pictured May 17 in the post, Contour Strip Cropping. […]
I just came upon your pictures of contour fields. I love how that looks, and it takes me back. My father, in the early fifties, was the first farmer in our area (eastern Penna.) to have the SCS come out and lay out the strips on the slopes of our farm.
I was told that people really wondered, but in due time it became common practice around there. Now, of course, most places have been subdivided and built up. Too, too bad.