Terraced Farming: Sustainable Agriculture
Terraced farming was mastered by the Andean Empire (Wari and Inca). Modern Peruvians use terraced farming to grow up to 16 varieties of crops including maize, beans, potatoes, barley, and quinoa. This allows otherwise infertile regions to be productive for sustainable farming.
Archaeologist Ann Kendall began studying terraces in the Cuzco region of Peru in 1968. Kendall says that the Incan terraces are even today probably the most sophisticated in the world. They built on knowledge developed over about 11,000 years. The terraces permit farming on otherwise unusable terrain.
The stone retaining walls act like raised garden beds but also retain heat from the sun through the frigid nights protecting the plants from frost. Multiple layers of gravel ensured proper drainage. This is important in a region with more than 76 inches of rain per year.