ADLib Glossary (C)

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Ploughing 'on-the-contour'

Ploughing 'on-the-contour' refers to a ploughing direction which follows horizontally around the contour of the slope rather than from top to bottom. Whilst this can help avoid soil erosion it can be hazardous on steep slopes as there is a higher risk of the plough tilting over. The aim is to reduce the flow of water (run-off) across the land surface, thus reducing erosion.

What are its benefits?

  • Soil erosion can be reduced by as much as 50%
  • Increased water infiltration promotes better water quality.
  • Increased soil retention encourages root development, binding the soil and preventing erosion.
  • Limits the release of nutrients/particulates into nearby river systems or lakes, minimising harmful effects such as eutrophication.
  • Can disrupt wind currents, therefore reducing wind erosion.

What are its restrictions / problems?

  • Stepped topography may hinder modern (mechanised) farming practices.
  • There is also a tendency for the plough to gradually slip down the slope.
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