Contour Cropping is a conservation farming method that is used on slopes to control soil erosion. Contour cropping involves planting crops across the slope instead of up and down the slope. Using contour cropping helps against erosion by keeping valuable topsoil and by slowing down water so that it soaks in the ground. Long, smooth, even slope speed up water runoff water and fast moving water has the power to cut deep into the ground. Contour cropping helps shorten slope lengths and slow down water. Contour cropping is most effective on slopes between 2 and 10 percent. Often strip of hay are planted in between rows of crops to help further slow runoff water. It is important that crop be planted along the contour and your local office of the USDA NRCS can show you how to lay out contour lines to get started. This is a very effective practice and is used in such places as the Palouse region of Washington and the Coon Creek Watershed in Wisconsin.
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