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Abstract, The Solutions Journal, 2016

As previously stated, terraces are an obvious solution for agriculture in high declivity terrain. However, they also offer much more than just being soil and water retainers. A controlled height allows for greater soil depth than the natural environment could offer, providing additional moisture to crops and potentially allowing crop varieties that could not flourish on shallow soil layers. A well-conceived terrace could retain water when needed or drain it according to a particular crop’s requirements. Potentially this water drain rate could even be altered every year in case of a crop rotation policy. According to the topographical orientation and the declivity of the slope, terraces could be built to provide the required sunlight exposure and air drainage for specific crops.3 Some even theorize that crop yields could be improved by terracing agriculture compared to traditional plain farming, although not in the first 10 years.4 There are modern instances where proper planning and design made a tremendous difference between failed terracing that left the land even more sterile (like in some regions of Rwanda) and successful land development leading to increased life conditions for rural populations (as in the Central Province of Kenya).5

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