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Volume 21 (1) - 1998


Man-made terraces in a German agricultural landscape

Pages 55-59


Same of the man-made features have integrated into the landscape as its organic part and influence geomorphic and environmental processes. In the paper the function of terraces on arable land (Ackertereassen) and in vineyards is investigated. The test area is a valley on the western margin of the Odenwald Mountains, the Meerbach valley, near the town Ben-sheim, Hesse, Germany. In the Rhine valley limited availability of land and the increasing concentration of population called for intensive farming on small plots at a very early date. Although some of the early settlements were later abandoned, some ancient patterns of cultivation manifested in a wealth of man-made features in the landscape, have survived to this day. The landscape ecological significance of terraces is manifested through the redistribution of moisture and nutrients available for agricultural crops. A survey of nutrient losses through runoff was made in various cross-sections and it was found that the partial basins with more terraces insignificantly contribute to the nutrient load of the trunk stream. That is interpreted as an evidence to the efficiency of roan-made terraces in the conservation of soil fertility and in the prevention of eutrophication of water bodies.

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