Terraces Dryland Farming

April 27, 2021



Photographer: Menashe Davidson
Summary Author: Menashe Davidson

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
- Albert Einstein

...and that's just what my wife and I did on a recent midwinter's walk among the agricultural terraces and walls (top) of the Judea mountain slopes. These walls were constructed using large local stones with gaps filled with smaller stones (bottom). The production of nutritional foods in this environment is a complex undertaking. Over the years, terraces have been developed to adapt to the presence or lack of moisture in a given crop cycle. The purpose of these terraces was to create flat terrain plots, with deep fertile soil that serves as a reserve of soil moisture. Flat plots avoid rainfall run-off, and excess soil erosion and allows infiltration of water. The Mediterranean climate here in Israel produces almost all of the annual rainfall during the winter season. Without another source of water, farmers grew seasonal crops (cereals, legumes, pumpkins, etc.) that received all their moisture prior to harvest. Terracing permitted more intensive annual cropping than would otherwise be possible. Note that trees from modern planting exist only on the top of the mountain.