Terrace (agriculture)

In agriculture, a terrace is a piece of sloped plane that has been cut into a series of successively receding flat surfaces or platforms, which resemble steps, for the purposes of more effective farming. This type of landscaping is therefore called terracing. Graduated terrace steps are commonly used to farm on hilly or mountainous terrain. Terraced fields decrease both erosion and surface runoff, and may be used to support growing crops that require irrigation, such as rice. The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the significance of this technique.[1]

Terraced paddy fields are used widely in rice, wheat and barley farming in east, south, and southeast Asia, as well as the Mediterranean, Africa, and South America. Drier-climate terrace farming is common throughout the Mediterranean Basin, where they are used for vineyards, olive trees, cork oak, etc.

In the South American Andes, farmers have used terraces, known as andenes, for over a thousand years to farm potatoes, maize, and other native crops. Terraced farming was developed by the Wari culture and other peoples of the south-central Andes before 1000 AD, centuries before they were used by the Inca, who adopted them. The terraces were built to make the most efficient use of shallow soil and to enable irrigation of crops by allowing runoff to occur through the outlet.[2]

The Inca built on these, developing a system of canals, aqueducts, and puquios to direct water through dry land and increase fertility levels and growth.[3] These terraced farms are found wherever mountain villages have existed in the Andes. They provided the food necessary to support the populations of great Inca cities and religious centres such as Machu Picchu.

Terracing is also used for sloping terrain; the Hanging Gardens of Babylon may have been built on an artificial mountain with stepped terraces, such as those on a ziggurat. At the seaside Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum, the villa gardens of Julius Caesar's father-in-law were designed in terraces to give pleasant and varied views of the Bay of Naples.

Terraced fields are common in islands with steep slopes. The Canary Islands present a complex system of terraces covering the landscape from the coastal irrigated plantations to the dry fields in the highlands. These terraces, which are named cadenas (chains), are built with stone walls of skillful design, which include attached stairs and channels.[4]

In Old English, a terrace was also called a "lynch" (lynchet). An example of an ancient Lynch Mill is in Lyme Regis. The water is directed from a river by a duct along a terrace. This set-up was used in steep hilly areas in the UK.[5]

In Japan, some of the 100 Selected Terraced Rice Fields (in Japanese: 日本の棚田百選一覧), from Iwate in the north to Kagoshima in the south, are slowly disappearing, but volunteers are helping the farmers both to maintain their traditional methods and for sightseeing purposes. [6]

Jati Luwih
Rice terraces, Bedugul, Bali.
Rice terrace in Indonesia
Inca terrace-en
Diagram showing Inca terrace engineering for agriculture.


Terraced fields Sa Pa Vietnam

Terraced fields in Sa Pa, Vietnam.

Tetang terraced fields

Tetang Village terraced fields, Mustang District

Samar terraced fields

Terraced fields in the Upper Mustang region of Nepal

Kabal Swat valley

Terraced field in Kabal Swat valley, Pakistan.


Terraced farmland in Peru, adopted by the Inca.

Terraced hay field - NARA - 286147

Terraced hay fields in the Upper Mississippi River basin during the 1930s.

1 bali rice terrace 2011

Rice terrace in Bali

1 bali jatiluwih rice terrace panorama

Jatiluwih rice terrace in Bali, Indonesia.

Batad Rice Terraces after the rain

The Batad Rice Terraces in Ifugao, Philippines.

Banaue Rice Terrace Close Up (2)

The Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao, Philippines.

Rice cultivation Nepal Lower Himalayas

Rice cultivation, Lower Himalayas, Nepal.

Terrace field guangxi longji china

Longsheng Rice Terrace in Longsheng county, Guangxi Province, southern China.

Terrace field yunnan china

Abstract pattern of terraced rice fields in Yuanyang County, Yunnan, China

2007 1206 Cleared Hani rice terraces

Image from Yuanyang, showing the rice terrace walls after harvest, weed removal, flooding and plowing.

Chiang mai province road 1263

Terrace fields in Northern Thailand at the end of the dry season


Lynchet system near Bishopstone in Wiltshire


Terrace vineyard in the coteaux du Layon on the commune of Faye-d’Anjou, Maine-et-Loire, France


Rice-terrace fields by the sea at sunset, in Genkai Town, Saga Prefecture, Japan

Panorama of Gozo

Terraced fields in Gozo, Malta

Bancales de Pinos del Valle

Terraced mixed citrus and olive groves in the Lecrin Valley, Andalusia, Spain.

See also


  1. ^ "World Heritage List". UNESCO. Retrieved 2012-09-22.they are Broad flat steps
  2. ^ https://www.britannica.com/topic/terrace-cultivation. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ "Farming Like the Incas". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 2015-09-20.
  4. ^ Martín, Lidia & González Morales, A & Ojeda, Antonio A.. (2016). Towards a new valuation of cultural terraced landscapes: The heritage of terraces in the Canary Islands (Spain). 26. 499-512. 10.19233/ASHS.2016.31.
  5. ^ Whittington, G. (1967-01-01). "Towards a Terminology for Strip Lynchets". The Agricultural History Review. 15 (2): 103–107. JSTOR 40273237.
  6. ^ An Agricultural Wonder: Japan’s Vanishing Terraced Rice Fields (Photos) (Nippon.com)

External links


An andén (plural andenes), Spanish for "platform", is a stair-step like terrace dug into the slope of a hillside for agricultural purposes. The term is most often used to refer to the terraces built by pre-Columbian cultures in the Andes mountains of South America. Andenes had several functions, the most important of which was to increase the amount of cultivatable land available to farmers by leveling a planting area for crops. The best known examples of andenes are in Peru, especially in the Sacred Valley near the Inca capital of Cuzco and in the Colca Canyon. Many andenes have survived for more than 500 years and are still in use by farmers throughout the region.

The benefits of andenes include utilizing steep slopes for agriculture, minimizing the threat of freezes, increasing exposure to sunlight, controlling erosion, improving absorption of water, and better aeration of the soil. The construction and use of andenes for crops enabled agriculture in the Andes to expand into climatically marginal areas of low or seasonal rainfall, low temperatures, and thin soils.

Aztec society

Pre-Columbian Aztec society was a highly complex and stratified society that developed among the Aztecs of central Mexico in the centuries prior to the Spanish conquest of Mexico, and which was built on the cultural foundations of the larger region of Mesoamerica. Politically, the society was organized into independent city-states, called altepetls, composed of smaller divisions (calpulli), which were again usually composed of one or more extended kinship groups. Socially, the society depended on a rather strict division between nobles and free commoners, both of which were themselves divided into elaborate hierarchies of social status, responsibilities, and power. Economically the society was dependent on agriculture, and also to a large extent on warfare. Other economically important factors were commerce, long distance and local, and a high degree of trade specialization.

Contour plowing

Contour bunding or contour farming or Contour ploughing is the farming practice of plowing and/or planting across a slope following its elevation contour lines. These contour lines create a water break which reduces the formation of rills and gullies during times of heavy water run-off; which is a major cause of soil erosion. The water break also allows more time for the water to settle into the soil. In contour plowing, the ruts made by the plow run perpendicular rather than parallel to the slopes, generally resulting in furrows that curve around the land and are level. This method is also known for preventing tillage erosion. Tillage erosion is the soil movement and erosion by tilling a given plot of land. A similar practice is contour bunding where stones are placed around the contours of slopes.Contour ploughing helps to reduce soil erosion.

Soil erosion prevention practices such as this can drastically decrease negative effects associated with soil erosion such as reduced crop productivity, worsened water quality, lower effective reservoir water levels, flooding, and habitat destruction. Contour farming is considered an active form of sustainable agriculture.

Contour trenching

Contour trenching is an agricultural technique that can be easily applied in arid sub-Sahara areas to allow for water, and soil conservation, and to increase agricultural production.

Between two trenches crops can benefit during the growing season (when there is less rain) from the subsoil water reserve gathered during the rainy season.

Earthworks (engineering)

Earthworks are engineering works created through the processing of parts of the earth's surface involving quantities of soil or unformed rock.

Index of soil-related articles

This is an index of articles relating to soil.

Koore people

The Koore (also known as the Koorete) are an ethnic group whose homeland lies in southern Ethiopia. According to the 2007 national census, there are 156,983 members in this group, of whom 8.3% are urban inhabitants.


Lynch may refer to:

Lynching, also known as Lynch law, an extrajudicial execution carried out by a mob, often by hanging or other ways of execution

Maykop culture

The Maykop culture (scientific transliteration: Majkop, Russian: майкоп, [mai.kɔp]), c. 3700 BC–3000 BC, was a major Bronze Age archaeological culture in the western Caucasus region of southern Russia.

It extends along the area from the Taman Peninsula at the Kerch Strait to near the modern border of Dagestan and southwards to the Kura River. The culture takes its name from a royal burial found in Maykop kurgan in the Kuban River valley.

Monte Negro, Oaxaca

Monte Negro is a mountain top site that at existed around 200 BC and at one time consisted of an average of 2,900 people. Its use was short lived due to a lack of rural sites (only terracing throughout the mountain). Some of the architecture of Monte Negro is very distinct using columns and structures no higher than six meters. The site is rich with ceramics and designs imported from the nearby Monte Alban.

Paddy field

A paddy field is a flooded parcel of arable land used for growing semiaquatic rice. Paddy cultivation should not be confused with cultivation of deepwater rice, which is grown in flooded conditions with water more than 50 cm (20 in) deep for at least a month. Genetic evidence shows that all forms of paddy rice, both indica and japonica, spring from a domestication of the wild rice Oryza rufipogon that first occurred 8,200–13,500 years ago South of the Yangtze River in present-day China. However, the domesticated indica subspecies currently appears to be a product of the introgression of favorable alleles from japonica at a later date, so that there are possibly several events of cultivation and domestication. Paddy fields are the typical feature of rice farming in east, south and southeast Asia. Fields can be built into steep hillsides as terraces and adjacent to depressed or steeply sloped features such as rivers or marshes. They can require a great deal of labor and materials to create, and need large quantities of water for irrigation. Oxen and water buffalo, adapted for life in wetlands, are important working animals used extensively in paddy field farming.

During the 20th century, paddy-field farming became the dominant form of growing rice. Hill tribes of Thailand still cultivate dry-soil varieties called upland rice. Paddy field farming is practiced in Asia, namely in Cambodia, Bangladesh, China, Taiwan, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos, and in Europe, Northern Italy, the Camargue in France, and in Spain, particularly in the Albufera de València wetlands in the Valencian Community, the Ebro Delta in Catalonia and the Guadalquivir wetlands in Andalusia, as well as along the eastern coast of Brazil, the Artibonite Valley in Haiti, and Sacramento Valley in California, among other places. Paddy fields are a major source of atmospheric methane and have been estimated to contribute in the range of 50 to 100 million tonnes of the gas per annum.

Studies have shown that this can be significantly reduced while also boosting crop yield by draining the paddies to allow the soil to aerate to interrupt methane production. Studies have also shown the variability in assessment of methane emission using local, regional and global factors and calling for better inventorisation based on micro level data.


Satoyama (里山) is a Japanese term applied to the border zone or area between mountain foothills and arable flat land. Literally, sato (里) means village, and yama (山) means hill or mountain. Satoyama have been developed through centuries of small scale agricultural and forestry use.

The concept of satoyama has several definitions. The first definition is the management of forests through local agricultural communities, using coppicing. During the Edo era, young and fallen leaves were gathered from community forests to use as fertilizer in wet rice paddy fields. Villagers also used wood for construction, cooking and heating. More recently, satoyama has been defined not only as mixed community forests, but also as entire landscapes that are used for agriculture. According to this definition, satoyama contains a mosaic of mixed forests, rice paddy fields, dry rice fields, grasslands, streams, ponds, and reservoirs for irrigation. Farmers use the grasslands to feed horses and cattle. Streams, ponds, and reservoirs play an important role in adjusting water levels of paddy fields and farming fish as a food source.

Terrace (geology)

In geology, a terrace is a step-like landform. A terrace consists of a flat or gently sloping geomorphic surface, called a tread, that is typically bounded one side by a steeper ascending slope, which is called a "riser" or "scarp." The tread and the steeper descending slope (riser or scarp) together constitute the terrace. Terraces can also consist of a tread bounded on all sides by a descending riser or scarp. A narrow terrace is often called a bench.The sediments underlying the tread and riser of a terrace are also commonly, but incorrectly, called terraces, leading to confusion.

Terraces are formed in various ways.

Terrace garden

In gardening, a terrace is an element where a raised flat paved or gravelled section overlooks a prospect. A raised terrace keeps a house dry and provides a transition between the hard materials of the architecture and softer ones of the garden. Balcony Garden is nearly the same but is less beneficial.


Turrillas is a municipality of Almería province, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain.

The township is built quite high up on the north-west facing slopes of the Sierra Alhamilla. It is accessed either by a winding road from Lucainena de las Torres or from a road off the main Sorbas to Tabernas road.

From Turrillas there are views of the opposite Sierras, the Sorbas basin and of the agricultural land use; such land use is primarily revolves around olive production and some almond production. For those interested in agricultural practices there is evidence of old terrace agriculture on the hillside adjacent to the town and also evidence of a qanat irrigation system on the alluvial fan directly below the town.

As of June 18, 2008, a series of Windmills are being erected on the mountain range behind Turrillas, to provide power to the National Grid. Construction began early 2008 with works to widen the roads, in order to transport the large blades and towers needed, temporary wind test antenna have been erected in order to discover the possible amount of electricity to be gained by the windmills. The initial stage of testing was successful. Construction is expected to be finished by the end of 2008.

The annual fiesta, in honor of San Antonio takes place on June 13, 14, and 15 of every year. Celebrations go late into the night, with a concert taking place on the town square, live music and bars. There is also a parade on horseback past La ermita de San Antonio, which is situated in the lower part of the town. La ermita de San Antonio was built in the 17th century, as a remembrance between the battles that took place between the Moors and Christians in this area.

AENA (Aeropuertos Españoles y Navegación Aérea) has a relay outpost situated on the Sierra behind Turrillas, serving Almería Airport, and flights heading in the direction of Africa. The Communications Centre in Turrillas began operations in 2003.

Vertical farming

Vertical farming is the practice of producing food and medicine in vertically stacked layers, vertically inclined surfaces and/or integrated in other structures (such as in a skyscraper, used warehouse, or shipping container). The modern ideas of vertical farming use indoor farming techniques and controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) technology, where many environmental factors can be controlled. These facilities utilize artificial control of light, environmental control (humidity, temperature, gases...) and fertigation. Some vertical farms use techniques similar to greenhouses, where natural sunlight can be augmented with artificial lighting and metal reflectors.Hydroponic systems can be lit by LEDs that mimic sunlight. Software can ensure that all the plants get the same amount of light, water and nutrients. Proper management means that no herbicides or pesticides are required.

Wari culture

The Wari (Spanish: Huari) were a Middle Horizon civilization that flourished in the south-central Andes and coastal area of modern-day Peru, from about AD 500 to 1000.Wari, as the former capital city was called, is located 11 km (6.8 mi) north-east of the modern city of Ayacucho, Peru. This city was the center of a civilization that covered much of the highlands and coast of modern Peru. The best-preserved remnants, beside the Wari Ruins, are the recently discovered Northern Wari ruins near the city of Chiclayo, and Cerro Baul in Moquegua. Also well-known are the Wari ruins of Pikillaqta ("Flea Town"), a short distance south-east of Cuzco en route to Lake Titicaca.

However, there is still a debate whether the Wari dominated the Central Coast or the polities on the Central Coast were commercial states capable of interacting with the Wari people without being politically dominated by them.

Yuanyang County, Yunnan

Yuanyang County (simplified Chinese: 元阳县; traditional Chinese: 元陽縣; pinyin: Yuányáng Xiàn; Hani: Yeiqyaq) is located in Honghe Prefecture in southeastern Yunnan province, China, along the Red River. It is well known for its spectacular rice-paddy terracing. Part of the area now forms the 45th World Heritage Site in China.

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