Strip Cropping is the agricultural practice of planting multiple crops in alternating parallel strips in order to reduce soil erosion due to rainwater runoff and wind. When used on sloping terrain, the strips will run parallel to the contours of the slope in order to slow runoff. On very long or steep slopes, strip cropping should be used in conjunction with terracing and diversion ditches to divert the flow of runoff. In areas with high prevailing winds, the strips are oriented perpendicular to the prevailing wind direction.
The optimum practice is to alternate strips of crops with a high percentage of ground cover such as grasses and legumes with crops with little ground cover. This includes most row crops such as corn, cotton, soybeans, and many vegetable crops. Crops requiring a high amount of tillage should be alternated with stable crops such as hay and grasses. Seasonal rotation of crops should maintain the alternating pattern. The width of the strips is dependent on the prevailing weather conditions. Areas with heavier rainfall or higher prevailing winds should use narrower strips. Strip width should be in multiples of equipment working widths to minimize partial coverage passes and to accommodate the turning radius of the equipment.
The benefits of strip cropping (also called strip farming) include reduction of soil erosion due to rainfall runoff and wind, reduction of transport of pesticides and nutrients such as phosphorus away from the fields into waterways, and reduction of particulates and dust in the air.