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close this bookRegenerative Agriculture Technologies for the Hill Farmers of Nepal: An Information Kit (IIRR, 1992, 210 p.)
close this folderNatural resources and their enhancement
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View the documentUnderutilized Food Crop Resources in the Midhills of Nepal
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View the documentIntermediate Beekeeping in Nepal
View the documentImproved Terracing for Soil Conservation on Hill Farms
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Improved Terracing for Soil Conservation on Hill Farms

Improved terracing for soil conservation on hill farms

Bari cultivation in mountain and hill farms is severely affected by soil erosion. During the rainy season, as much as 30 tons/ha of fine topsoil can be lost each year. Along with this topsoil, valuable nutrients such as Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium are also lost, resulting in decreases in maim and millet yields. Loss of topsoil decreases the overall quality of the soil as the moisture-holding capacity becomes low, organic matter content is reduced and the soil becomes infertile, hard and sterile.

Maize bards are generally outward (or downward) sloping long terraces. Before the monsoon rains start (during Baisakh, Jestha), the bari is ploughed and the clods are broken. When the monsoon rains arrive, compost is then mixed into the soil and the maize seeds are sown. The monsoon rains wash away the fine soil nutrients.

Terracing can slow the movement of water on the soil surface, thereby reducing soil erosion and increasing the amount of water available to the crops.


improved terrace structures located throughout the various farm areas can help to conserve valuable soil and water resources on the farm. This can lead to higher yeidl and improved farm productivity through crop diversification.


a) Retaining wall - A retaining wall made of dry, packed stone is constructed to protect the house from landlisdes and erosion. Small trees and grasses are planted to help retain the soil and stones.

b) Drain - Collect runoff water from the roof and house yard. Large amounts of water are collected, because the roof and house yard will not absorb water. The drain runs behind the house.

c) Small pond - On one side of the house yard, the runoff water is collected by the drain and stored in a small pond (about 1.5 m deep, 2 m wide) dug in the house yard.

d) House yard boundary wall - A one-half meter stone wall constructed along the bottom side of the house yard helps to retain the soil in the house yeard area and can help to keep animals either in or out of the yard.

Terrace improvement


e) Level terraces - Below the house yard boundary wall two terraces can be levelled for growing vegetables. Water from the pond can be used to irrigate these terraces.

f) Dry stone terrace riser - This riser prevents soil erosion.

g) Terrace Grasses such as Setaria Setaria access and legumes such as Desmodium can be planted on the bund to stabilise the bund and will serve as animal fodder sources.


h) Maize/Millet terraces - Terraces are gently levelled or sloping backward and are used for cereal crops, such as maize, millet, etc. or mixed crops. For better soil, moisture and nutrient conservation, mulching is done.

i) Terrace bund - Bunds are made at the edges of crop terraces and are planted with grasses, such as Setaria, desmodium and small leguminous fodder tree species. Lopping of the fodder trees is done during the crop growing season and fed to livestock.

j) Terrace riser - Terrace risers are sloping and are planted with grasses which are cut during-the crop growing season and fed to livestock.


k) This zone includes the steep slopes of a farm. The land is generally too steep for cultivation, the soil depth is shallow and the area is stony. Therefore, several species of fodder trees, fruit trees and bamboo can be planted to utilize this marginal farm area.

l) This is the lowest bund of the farm and is generally planted with hedges of amriso or other shrubs.

Note: All farms need not include all of these areas. However, improvements can be made to the existing terrace areas of most farms.