What is terrace farming?

Terrace farming is commonly found throughout Asia, and is used when the terrain is particularly hilly or steep. Terraces are made using low walls of earth up the side of the hills, these allow the farmers to make fl at areas for planting their crops – the terraces. The terraces act in several ways but especially in allowing the soil to remain in place and water flowing down the hill through natural gravity can be moved and channeled through the terrace setup using a system of small openings and gates to allow different areas to be dry or wet at any one time.

Terraces are often seen in the rice-growing areas of south-east Asia such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and so on. The Indonesian island of Bali is particularly well-known for large areas of rice terraces, but at higher altitudes the crops in the terraces will be replaced by different crops as rice cannot grow too high.

Dr Tim Utteridge, South-East Asia Team, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew