ECM for Cropped Environments - Strip Contour Cropping

Strip Contour Cropping:

Strip contour cropping is the management practice of growing two or more crops in alternating strips along the contour of the land. In this system, a row crop more susceptible to erosion, like corn or soybeans, is planted alternating with a cover crop less susceptible to erosion, like grass meadow, clover, or oats. Similar to contour cropping, crops are planted perpendicular to the wind or water flow. Soil detached from the row crops by the forces of wind or water will get trapped by the cover crop.

Strips of oats and hay are interspersed with strips of corn to save soil and improve water quality and wildlife habitat on this field in northeast Iowa. Photo by USDA-NRCS

Aerial view of contour buffer strips on highly erodible cropland in Winneshiek County in northeast Iowa. Strips of green alfalfa help curb erosion by providing breaks from the more erodible corn fields. Photo by USDA-NRCS