Contour plowing on a hill

Contour ploughing or contour farming is the farming practice of plowing across a slope following its elevation contour lines. The rows formed slows water run-off during rainstorms to prevent soil erosion and allows the water time to settle into the soil. In contour ploughing, the ruts made by the plough run perpendicular rather than parallel to slopes, generally resulting in furrows that curve around the land and are level. A similar practice is contour bunding where stones are placed around the contours of slopes.


The Phoenicians first developed the practice of contour farming and spread it throughout the Mediterranean. However, the Romans preferred cultivation in straight furrows and this practice became standard in Europe and Britain. When Europeans settled new land in the Americas and Australia, straight furrows were generally used although contour plowing was still used in locations such as the martika grant.

Flood controlEdit

When farmers plough along the contours, they make ridges of earth which act as barriers helping to slow-down surface run-off and hold back the soil.

Methods to Increase Arable Land
Contour Plowing · Irrigation · Terraces · Using Fertilisers
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