Web-based program designs more efficient farm terrace layouts

May 21, 2009

From the time of the Babylonians to the Incas, terracing has been used to prevent water from eroding steep and hilly croplands. Designing terrace layouts can be time consuming and labor intensive. Now, University of Missouri researchers are developing a Web-based program that will design multiple farm terraces in a short time period. This technology will help farm experts choose the most efficient and cost-effective layout.

"Coupled with new computerized topographical information, the program would produce more alternative terrace layouts in a fraction of the time that manually devised plans require," said Allen Thompson, associate professor of in the MU College of Engineering.

Using information about a farm, such as perimeter, the area to be terraced and data on how water flows on the property, the program will quickly produce several possible ways to terrace the land. Without terraces to prevent , valuable topsoil can be washed away reducing farm productivity and polluting and lakes. Terracing and other social conservation techniques can significantly cut the amount of soil lost each year.

"The program will help determine the best locations to collect and drain water, tell users how far apart channels and berms (the shelves that form) should be and possibly provide specific heights for the berms," Thompson said. "This system should provide a simple way to help produce farmable terrace designs acceptable to both landowners and conservationists."

Currently, it can take farm experts an entire day to determine exactly where to place terraces within a 20-acre field. In contrast, this program would allow a person to plan several terrace options on a computer in an hour or two, Thompson said.

In the future, researchers hope the program will be able to produce plans with acceptable slopes as it smoothes any sharp curves along the terrace placement. This will ensure that the layouts are in accord with farm practices.

Source: University of Missouri-Columbia (news : web)

Explore further: Japanese scientists track bird flu strains

Related Stories

Japanese scientists track bird flu strains

July 11, 2005

The Japanese government will destroy 8,500 chickens at a poultry farm in Bando, Ibaraki prefecture, after scientists found genes of the avian flu virus.

Coast Guard gets wind farm power

June 22, 2006

Congress has reached an agreement concerning a proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm in Massachusetts, giving the U.S. Coast Guard oversight of the project.

Alternative farming cleans up water

July 19, 2007

Although the addition of nutrients to soil helps to maximize crop production, fertilizer can leach nutrients, polluting the water supply. A recent study by researchers at the University of Minnesota shows alternative cropping ...

Field of germs: Food safety is in farm worker's hands

February 20, 2009

The recent salmonella outbreak linked to 575 illnesses and eight deaths across 43 states was shown to come from a dirty peanut processing plant in Georgia. And while it is essential for food processing plants to be clean ...

Recommended for you

The ethics of robot love

November 25, 2015

There was to have been a conference in Malaysia last week called Love and Sex with Robots but it was cancelled. Malaysian police branded it "illegal" and "ridiculous". "There is nothing scientific about sex with robots," ...

Nevada researchers trying to turn roadside weed into biofuel

November 26, 2015

Three decades ago, a University of Nevada researcher who obtained one of the first U.S. Energy Department grants to study the potential to turn plants into biofuels became convinced that a roadside weed—curly top gumweed—was ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.