What Is Contour Plowing?

Contour plowing is a type of plowing that follows the curves of the landscape instead of plowing straight rows up and down hills and valleys. Contour plowing creates ridges that conserve rainwater and prevent the removal of topsoil from the area in the event of heavy rains.

Contour plowing became popular in the 1930s when the Soil Erosion Service was created by the federal government to educate farmers on how to recover from the effects of over-plowing and soil erosion. The Soil Erosion Service partnered with universities to demonstrate contour plowing and other soil conservation techniques such as strip cropping and terracing.