Improved terraces

Hillside forward-sloping terracing and stabilisation using structural and vegetative measures

This technology addresses the soil erosion and water runoff problems associated with traditional outward-sloping terraces by reshaping the land into a series of level or gently sloping platforms across the slope. This technology is a variant of sloping land agricultural technology (SALT) or contour hedgerow technology. Nitrogenfixing hedgerow species and quality fodder grass species, which bind the soil, are cultivated along terrace riser margins to improve terrace stability. This also enhances soil fertility and increases fodder availability. The plants are grown in either single or multiple layers. The practice is applied under rainfed conditions and is culturally acceptable and affordable. After establishment, the technology also addresses the problems of fodder scarcity making it easier and less time consuming for women and girls to gather fodder.

The hedgerow and grass species are established between January and June. Complete establishment of this technology may take one year. The first step in creating the terraces is to build retaining walls using cement bags filled with soil which are then supported with bamboo cuttings along the contour (= future terrace risers). This divides the land into the planned terrace sections. The length and width of the terraces depends on the size and shape of the original field. Secondly, the soil is excavated from the upper part of the terraces and is used to build up the lower part above and behind the terrace riser wall to create a level bed. The fertile top soil must be kept aside and later spread over the newly terraced fields. The final step is to plant grass and hedgerow species on the outermost margins of the terrace above the risers.

WOCAT database reference: QT NEP2

Location: Kubinde village, Jhikhu Khola watershed, Kabhrepalanchok district

Technology area: 0.02 km2

SWC measure: Structural and vegetative

Land use: Annual cropping

Climate: Humid subtropical 

Related approach: Improving terraces with farmers, QA NEP2

Compiled by: Madhav Dhakal, ICIMOD

Date: February 2003, updated November 2006 

light green: districts in 2007