A-Frame - /ā frām/ - tool

July 29, 2020

Definition: A tool made from locally sourced materials (often wood) that is used to mark out the contours, or level lines on sloped land. After an A-Frame is used to identify the contours, ditches and trees are often planted to prevent water, soil, and nutrients from running off the land.

Why is it called an A-Frame?

The term A-Frame comes from the tool's resemblance to the English letter “A”.

Calibration is Key

In order for farmers to benefit from using an A-frame when contour planting, it is essential that the A-frame is calibrated to correctly identify the contours of the sloped land. If a farmer incorrectly marks the contours lines in his/her field, runoff can build up and flow along the vegetation, potentially causing more erosion and damage than would normally happen, even without the use of contour planting.

Learn how to construct and calibrate an A-frame in Chapter 8 of the Technical Manual. We'll also be covering this in depth in next month's FGTC newsletter. Not a subscriber? Sign up today

Want to build an A-Frame?

Here is what you’ll need:
- Two 1.5 to 2 meter sticks or poles about 3 to 5 cm in diameter (wood, bamboo, plastic, or any other light-weight, sturdy material)
- One 1 to 1.5 meter stick of the same material
- Three nails, or 2 meters of twine/string for binding the sticks together
- One 1.5 meter piece of twine/string for the level
- One round rock, about 5 cm in diameter