John Tyman's
Bali: Ancient and Modern
11. Agricultural Land Use : 124-131

124. Though active volcanic peaks like Agung and Batur can cause death and destruction when they erupt, they replenish the soil with volcanic ash: and by forcing rain-bearing winds to rise above them they also provide a dependable supply of water for irrigation.

125. There were obvious obstacles to overcome, though. Steep slopes had to be leveled, since rice is grown in flooded fields; and flights of terraces now rise one above the other.

126. Watering these fields was a problem too, since the rivers were deeply incised in soft volcanic rocks. Irrigation here required a superhuman level of co-operation to ensure that every field was watered but none was damaged by run-off.

127. The farmers all belong to local committees, or subaks, that determine which crops will be grown, when they'll be planted and harvested, and how each man will get the water he needs. The water is first diverted from streams in the mountains and funneled into channels running high up on the sides of each valley.

128. It is then released through sluice gates into smaller channels which first water the highest fields in each set of terraces. From there it moves slowly downhill through bamboo pipes and gates, or simply overflows, dropping to the terrace below, and so on down the hill.

129. Bali is part of "the developing world" so most farm work is still done by hand, or with the help of animals. The tools seem simple, and are made locally, but the yields obtained are far higher than any achieved in Australia or the United States, and the soils are in much better shape.

130. Land like this may be left fallow for a while, but since there is no cold or dry season to interfere with plant growth, crops can be grown here all year round.

131. Also, since rice can be planted at any time there is no "off-season" for farmers when they have nothing to do. As a result it is common to see fields of ripened grain alongside the deeper greens of young rice plants.


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