It is the start of one of the first “wet months” of the year 2022, and it is important that our farmers are equipped with adequate knowledge on conservative methods of farming that can greatly impact their communities, as well as their produce. According to the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Climate Change (ODPEM), Jamaica's long-term mean annual precipitation pattern reveals two distinct rainy months, May and October with the drier months being January, February, March and July. In these months especially, Jamaicans can look forward to natural disasters such as hurricanes, flooding and drought. Though there are measures implemented by the local government, the country and its people would be severely impacted since they heavily rely on agriculture to obtain traditional commodities, such as sugar, bananas, coffee, cocoa and citrus, which continue to make the most significant contribution towards production, employment, development of the industry, exports and, domestic food consumption (Shik et al., 2017). This is a key reason why it is important for farmers to practice good farming techniques so that in adverse times the country and its people are not dismally affected. One such agricultural technique is the practice of contour trenching, also known as contour bunding or ploughing. It is the method whereby farming is done across a slope as opposed farming from the top of the slope to the bottom (Gathagu et al., 2018).
Contour farming has many advantages, one of which is that it prevents soil erosion. The method creates physical barriers, delaying runoff water and enabling it to seep into the soil thoroughly. Furthermore, because contour farming lowers water runoff, it regulates the quantity of twigs, stones, sand, and other detritus, resulting in higher water quality.
Farmers may now assist by restricting the flow of water during the rainy season by creating these hillside ditches or bunds across a slope. The swales helps to sink extra water into the soil, so that it may be used during dryer periods without needing to irrigate. In addition to absorbing excess soil moisture and providing a more uniform distribution of irrigation or precipitation to the crops. In Kenya and Tanzania, an alteration to this method was used for leveled land where they dig semicircular depressions into the ground so that when it rains, water pools instead of swiftly evaporating off the dry land. This aids in cooling the microclimate, so preventing desertification. The reforestation of the land mitigates climate change.
To sum it all up, contour farming is an effective agricultural method that can be used in many adverse conditions such as drought and floods. The method also positively impacts climate change through reforestation.
By Malike Orane
Gathagu, J. N., Mourad, K. A., & Sang, J. (2018, September 22). Effectiveness of contour farming and filter strips on ecosystem services. MDPI. Retrieved May 4, 2022, from https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4441/10/10/1312
Shik , O., Antoinette Boyce, R., Paulo de Salvo, C. (2017, June). Analysis of agricultural in Jamaica - Publications. Retrieved May 4, 2022, from https://publications.iadb.org/publications/english/document/Analysis-of-Agricultural-Policies-in-Jamaica.pdf