How to Farm on a Hill

How to Farm on a Hill

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Did you know that farming on a hillside can offer you some unique solutions and protect you from certain environmental pressures? Whereas most prime agricultural soils are often found in plain lands, a hill could offer you a competitive advantage in farming. 

All you need to do is to put up your guard against the hillside challenges. Safeguarding yourself from loss of nutrients from your soil and erosion will fortify your hillside farming. 

Are Hills Good For Farming?

Hills are absolutely great for farming! It may require more work to establish your cropland on a hillside, but the numerous benefits you will enjoy will make it all worth the trouble. Benefits you are assured of include flood protection, gravity-fed irrigation, and increased solar gain. The difference in solar gain is remarkably significant for your crops and their production levels. 

Over and beyond the challenges of your hillside farming, the slope of your land will offer you incredible advantages. During the heavy rains, your land and crops are protected from floods. You get to continue working on your land and enjoy a bountiful crop yield while others beneath are stuck. 

As plants wither and die from drought, yours will be a safe haven. You will get to use gravity to your advantage in irrigation. Your hillside farm can remain evergreen throughout all the changing seasons. Your yield is secure, your sustained production is guaranteed.

When the frost settles in the valley during fall, you will still have a couple of weeks to get ready. Before the frost finally makes it is way uphill, your slope will buy your plants the valuable time they need. So whether it is to harvest or take some of your plants indoors before they freeze to death, your hillside farm got you covered.

Depending on the orientation of the location of your land uphill, a magnified sun effect will give your crops a different touch of life. Plants like tomatoes will do way better with the magnified sun effect and the resulting increased temperature. Your crops will produce at their optimum level from spring through fall.  

How Do You Farm On A Hillside?

To farm on a hillside successfully, you need to watch and learn. Before tilling up an acre of crops on your hillside, you must watch your land through spring and summer. Take into account where the natural high and low points are on your hill.

Judge the extreme strengths of your land by the types of plant species growing.  where the nutrients seem to be highest. You might be surprised to note that the most nutritious points coincide with where the water flows. 

If your land has a gentle slope, you can avoid leveling and building terraces. After tilling consider using broad forks and a pick to make raised beds. The raised beds should follow the contour of your land. Instead of tilling the entire field each year, develop permanent beds, and use a low-till system. It will incredibly steer the build-up of your soil life. 

After the hot and dry season, make the most out of the cool and rainy season. Set up a water harvester tank at the top of your field and ensure it is big enough to supply your land with water. If there’s a brook above your hillside land, use it with the help of gravity to fill your tank. Set up drip tape alongside gravity-fed water throughout your garden.

During the drenching rains, the raised beds will hold their shape as the broad-forked soil absorbs much of the water. Excess waters will run off your crops into the field. Thanks to your slope, you will be able to continue transplanting and harvesting as the fields in the lowlands are bogged down with water. 

As the rains continue, divert the water in your holding tank from the garden and use it elsewhere. It could be to water your livestock in a nearby pasture or just hold it. When the rain stops, you will fill the water as you irrigate to keep the water supply steady. This system will keep your plants happy until the end of the dry season and you no longer need it.

Farming on a hill will pose its share of challenges. You must mitigate them. Though your garden drains well, there will be some days it is too wet to work on. Some portions may be flowing with water during such times.

Dig little ditches, they will help relieve the problem. For a more permanent solution, put in keyline plowing. A series of irrigation ponds could also solve the issue permanently.

Which Type of Farming is Done On the Hillside?

You can conduct your normal farming on your hillside land provided you take up effective measures. Largely, hilly sides are used to grow plantation crops that require a mild climate. These plants also require significantly a lot of water for cultivation.

The competitive advantage of the hillside slope not only make it possible for these crops to grow, but also to flourish. Plantations like tea, banana, and coconut will thrive on your hillside garden. 

If your land has a steep slope, terrace farming will serve the purpose. Building terraces will reduce soil erosion and surface runoff that would otherwise be experienced downhill. A terrace refers to the piece of a sloped plane, cut into consecutive receding platform-like surfaces. 

The successive receding platforms appear like steps and will ensure you have effective farming uphill. Your graduated terrace steps will support your growing crops that require irrigation. Especially during the dry seasons. 

Like the rice fields of Asia, terrace farming will provide your crops with much-needed water. Terracing prevents soil erosion and soil runoff which would adversely affect plants grown on a slopy land without protective measures. By using terraces, your hillside farm will remain productive provided you take care of the soil and maintain the terraces. Barley and wheat are a key part of the agricultural system that employs the use of terrace farming systems. 

Using terrace as the type of farming for your hillside land will be labor-intensive. You, your soil, crops and land are however safeguarded against erosion and water loss.