Terraced farming

This photo shows the backyard of my paternal grandfather's neighbor. The photo was taken on December 29, 2013 at 5:03 pm (their local time, Greenwich Mean Time) in a local neighborhood called Souto of the city Acros de Valdevez in Portugal. I originally took the picture to document my family's vacation to Portugal over last winter break, but I was also intrigued by the farming practices the neighbor was partaking in.

A diagram I recall seeing in a class lecture pictured the hydrologic cycle, also known as the water cycle, which demonstrates the continuous transfer of water from the atmosphere to the Earth (to its surface as well as below it) and vice versa. The diagram, posted below, shows a section of this cycle where fallen precipitation makes it way down a mountainside as surface runoff.

My grandfather, and his neighbor, live in a pretty hilly portion of Portugal. The photo shows the nature of the slope of the neighbor's land. To efficiently grow food on his land, the neighbor practices a variation of terraced farming. Terraced farming cuts mountainside slopes into a collection of flat surfaces that resemble steps of a staircase. This method of farming does not allow for this surface water runoff to erode the land as the water travels downhill. Instead, the water is even collectedly by the flat strips of land during rainfall; very little of this water actually makes it way down to lower strips of land as runoff. This photo was taken during winter which explains why no crops are shown. The grandfather also mentioned that his neighbor tends to change what crop(s) he grows in a given year so as to prevents the build up of certain pests (either above ground or below it) from forming (which my grandfather says predominantly occurs when one crop is planted over and over again).

Works Cited (for picture)

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