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Contour Farming

Contour farming rowsContour farming is farming with row patterns that run nearly level around the hill -- not up and down the hill.

Contour stripcropping is crop rotation and contouring combined in equal-width strips of corn or soybeans planted on the contour and alternated with strips of oats, grasses, or legumes.

How Contour Farming helps...

  • Contouring can reduce soil erosion by as much as 50% from up and down hill farming
  • By reducing sediment and runoff, and increasing water infiltration, contouring promotes better water quality

Benefits of Contour Farming

  • Soil Erosion
  • Water Quality

How Contour Stripcropping helps...

  • Contour StripcroppingContour stripcropping reduces soil erosion and protects water quality
  • contour stripcropping may help reduce fertilizer costs by providing nutrient inputs naturally

Benefits of Contour Stripcropping

  • Profits
  • Soil Erosion
  • Water Quality
  • Wildlife


  • Longer, steeper slopes may require stripcropping rather than just contour farming.
  • Irregular slopes may require more than one key contour line.
  • Row crop strips need to be roughly the same width as hay or small grains; consider how many acres of row crops you need. Remember, hay strips will rotate to row crops over time.
  • Rotating strips from corn to legumes allows corn to use the nitrogen added to the soil by the legumes.
  • Consider whether herbicide carryover will be a problem.
  • Replace end rows with grass or legumes, which will reduce erosion and make it easier to turn equipment.
  • Use grass waterways where runoff is concentrated.
  • Strip width will depend on slope, equipment and management.
  • Keep strip widths consistent from year to year.
  • In contour farming, establish a narrow, permanent strip of grass along each key contour line to avoid having to lay out new key lines every year.


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