Terraces and Raised Fields

Terraces and raised fields are earthworks created to improve cultivation conditions by manipulating slope, hydrology, soil fertility, erosion, and microclimate. While both require intense labor, they allow agriculture to flourish in potentially inhospitable topography and environments. Terraces carve out sections of hillsides to improve planting surfaces. Raised fields create dry platforms above wetlands.

Farmers around the world have used terraces since ancient times, from the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to Cajete agroecosystems of Mexico. Terraces are used for defense and aesthetics as well as agriculture. They are critical to growing crops in arid and semiarid climates. Dryland terraces in Yemen enhanced soil water retention, taking maximum advantage of local water sources. The Hopi of the American Southwest irrigated terraces to grow maize. Terraces are also used ...

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