The Iowa Watershed Approach
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What are terraces?
A terrace is an earthen embankment constructed across a field slope, typically following the contour, and can be designed to temporarily store runoff or convey runoff to waterways. Terraces break up the slope length of the field into multiple shorter slope sections, slowing the flow rate of runoff, reducing sheet and rill erosion and preventing the formation of ephemeral gullies. As terraces temporarily store and slowly infiltrate or discharge runoff, they conserve soil moisture, reduce streamflow by 5%, allow sediment to settle out, and reduce phosphorus loads by 77%. Terraces improve the ability to farm slopes and are designed based on equipment needs. Additionally, terrace vegetation can provide cover for wildlife. Terraces should be used in conjunction with other soil conservation practices on the landscape to prevent sedimentation.
Benning, Jamie; TeBockhorst, Kristina; and Johnson, Jason, "Terraces" (2018). Extension and Outreach Publications. 436.
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