When you own a farm, space can be a premium. Farming usually requires flat land so that crops can grow properly. Fortunately, there is an alternative. If your property has a hilly area, you can use it to your advantage. Here is a guide on what you need to convert it into arable land.
Determine your slope and look at your options
The first thing you should do is check the slope of your hill. It might surprise you, but you can fully farm a gentle slope using ordinary means. Of course, there will be more erosion, but it is doable. However, steeper hills require two approaches: contour farming or terrace farming. Contour farming will have you farm by following the slope’s contours, while terrace farming requires that you build up individual terraces and cultivate them like normal.
Start building it up
Building up terraces will require a lot more work if you need to build up terraces. Fortunately, you can make it easier with pre-cast concrete retaining walls. You can click here to see what retaining wall systems you can use for the terracing. Place them in the right places, and you can have decent terraces to work on. Contour farming has you similarly cutting into the land, but it will be easier since you only need to follow the slope. This type of farming will not work with all crops, but root vegetables and grains can grow with this method. A combination of crops can work, too. For example, you can plant one line of corn alternated with a string of oats. It will require a lot of work to maintain, but there will be less erosion thanks to the roots.
Reinforce your fields
The sloping field makes it very vulnerable to erosion, so you should reinforce it with one or more additional practices. For example, you can pile on a layer of mulch to further protect the topsoil. It helps with hills that see a lot of wind and rain. Additionally, adding ditches to channel water safely off the hill can benefit your fields in that location. The gutters can also lead to a small pond that can help with irrigation around the area.
Planting and care
You won’t be able to deploy automatic planting machines unless the slopes are big. Manual planting and attentive care are best for monitoring your farm and ensuring you control erosion. No-till farming is the best approach for such fields since it ensures that the soil structure stays solid. Additionally, ensuring that ditches and irrigation are clear can ensure that your hillside fields will have enough moisture to grow. Finally, check the slope regularly to ensure that nothing is at the point of collapse.
Converting your hill into farmland can be a long process. However, the effort put into it can result in a high reward. Consider your options to begin your improvements and add some new ground for your farm to use. You will find that these hillside fields will be productive for years.