Landcare Foundation of the Philippines (LFPI)

Landcare Technologies

Natural vegetative strips

farmer demonstrates the “cow’s-back” method for locating contours

farmer demonstrates the “cow’s-back” method for locating contours

Natural vegetative strips are narrow strips of naturally growing grasses and herbs which are left unploughed along the contours of sloping farmland. The 50-centimetre wide strips are spaced 5–10 metres apart, depending on the slope. Left to grow, they act as buffers, controlling soil erosion and helping to filter pesticides and fertilisers in water run-off. Because the grasses used are naturally growing on the farm, the strips are cheap and easy to establish and maintain, and do not compete with crops.

Initially, farmers used a simple A-frame device that helped to indicate where they should plough the contours.

Farmers in Claveria adapted the A-frame method to their own needs and developed what is known as the “cow’s-back” method. With this method, to get straight contours, the farmer makes sure that the back of the draught animal remains level as it ploughs along the contours. If the animal is headed up the slope, its head is higher than its back; if it is headed down the slope, its rear end is higher than its back.

While natural vegetative strips are good at controlling soil erosion, they do reduce potential crop area by 10–20%. While this means a reduction in total yields and farm income, it does lead to greater sustainability in the long run because the farmer is able to remain on their land and produce regular crops. Planting timber trees and fruit crops such as bananas, durians, lanzones and pineapples, on the strips can make them more productive.

Our Advocacies

Landcare will continuously support local initiatives for sustainable agriculture and natural resources management in the Philippine uplands and other ecosystems through action-research and extension services mainly in partnership with local peoples’ organization, local government units and other service providers in the environment and agricultural sector.

Specifically, Landcare’s advocacies are focus on livelihood development for small farmers within the context of soil and water conservation, integrated sustainable agriculture, climate change adaptation and mitigation and natural resource management.

Contact Us

Door 2-A, CST Apartments, Apollo St., Hillside Subdivision,
Macasandig, Cagayan de Oro City
Philippines 9000
Telefax: +63 88 851 1224
Mobile: +63 917 726 5042