Countour Strip Cropping
Crop rotation and contouring combined in equal-width strips of corn or soybeans planted on the contour and alternated with strips of oats, grass or legumes.
How it works
Crops are arranged so that a strip of meadow or small grain is alternated with a strip of row crop. Not more than half a field can be planted to row crops. Meadow slows runoff, increases infiltration, traps sediment and provides surface cover. Ridges formed by contoured rows slow water flow which reduces erosion. Rotating the strips from corn to legumes allows nutrient-needy crops to benefit from the nitrogen added to the soil by legumes. This practice combines the beneficial effects of contouring and crop rotation.
How it helps
Contour stripcropping reduces soil erosion and protects water quality.
Contour stripcropping may help reduce fertilizer costs.
How many acres of row crops do you need?
Does your crop rotation allow for alternating row crops with small grains and
Will herbicide carryover be a problem?
Row crop strips need to be nearly the same width as small grains or meadow.
A 10% variance is allowed.
Plant grass or legume field borders instead of end rows and establish
waterways as part of your stripcropping system.
Key lines used for laying out strips should not exceed a 2% slope; except
within 100 feet of an outlet, when the grade can be 3%.
Strip widths may be adjusted downward to accommodate your equipment
width for even rounds.
Stripcropping is not as effective if crop strips become too wide, especially on
steep slopes. Use the following table to plan maximum widths: *
% Slope Crop strip width
1-2 130 feet
3-8 100 feet
9-16 80 feet
17-20 60 feet
21-25 50 feet
Keep strip widths consistent from year to year.
If a meadow crop fails or is wintered killed, NRCS can help you make
adjustments in your rotation schedule.
* Check for local recommendations.