There is an earthworks terraces maintenance secret that most don't know to tell you. Building a terrace without knowing this can be big trouble. Fortunately, it is easy to get started.
Homesteads and Small Farms Make This Mistake Because Nobody is Talking About It
To keep your earthworks secure, you must monitor every aspect for repair. Make sure these is no bare soil, that the terrace bund is secure, and water moves slowly across contour.
Episode, An Earthworks Secret Nobody Will Tell You
Rock removal around the terrace bund keeps water from creating pressure points. The bund is a raised embankment that runs horizontally across the outer edge of your terrace.
Any solid objects in your bund cause water at these points to move faster, creating cutting and erosion. Not finding these problems is why I'm so excited after a rainstorm. Earthworks will last a lifetime with proper maintenance.
Soil health matters too. As you clean up the terrace bund, you'll want compacted clay. However, as grass grows, add lime and dress with topsoil to get grass growing quickly. Grass roots help bind your earthworks in place.
Earthworks Terraces are Like Farm Magic When Done The Right Way
You'll find swales, berms, keyline plowing, and raised beds in regenerative farming and permaculture design. Each of these earthworks helps restore soil health. Some work by slowing and spreading water, others by increasing growing areas.
The benefits of earthworks are many. Including:
- Less erosion.
- More biodiversity.
- Delivering nutrients.
- Access to growing space.
- Shelter for animals.
- Saving water.
- Stopping erosion.
- Conserving nutrients.
In the hills of Virginia and North Carolina, the typical earthwork increases growing spaces while allowing the introduction of vegetative strips. Many of the benefits outlined here are amplified in combination.
Maintenance Allows Earthworks to Evolve Into Abundance Over Time
For example, the earthworks terraces at The Sustainable Homestead Institute slow and spread water, make garden areas safer to navigate, and provide biomass in vegetative strips. These earthworks evolved over the years.
In the beginning, they had an overgrown rolling field. At first, they established growing areas with Virginia's largest hugelkultur. This massive earthworks structure provided growing space for years.
From there, it became raised beds, larger earthworks terraces were constructed. As the site matures, it becomes more functional, full of rich dark soil, and has more surface area for growing.
The maintenance doesn't have to be complicated. Most of the work I do is with simple tools. The key is being regular about your approach. Terrace earthworks in this episode of the podcast are very young. They need lots of attention.
Yet a 75-year-old terrace may not need anything more than grass cutting. The right earthworks design will be a heavy investment upfront but will deliver a lifetime of dividends for your farm.
If you want to get more from your small farm, homestead, or estate, … Justin Hitt is a Permaculture Design Consultant with more than two decades of experience with organic gardening. He teaches the practical application of critical thinking, entrepreneurial ecology, and homestead management. Practical insights for practitioners, estate owners, and homesteaders. To see if his insights are right for you, join our free newsletter.