Cut into the steepest hillsides, crop pickers can often see the entire lay of the land.
To colonize and cultivate many types of land, the Inca made extensive use of advanced irrigation and terrace farming techniques practiced throughout the Andean world.
The territory controlled by the Inca’s “Vertical Empire” brought together three regions with very different environments and ecosystems: the arid lands of the Pacific coast, the high plateaus of the Andes mountains, and the Amazonian wetlands of their eastern foothills. Connecting these spaces in a single network, the Inca were not only able to move agricultural surpluses across the Andes, but also address seasonal climatic variations that could ruin harvests locally.
This ensemble of different ecosystems allowed for the production of complementary crops. In addition to potatoes and quinoa grown in the dry regions and corn cultivated in irrigated regions’ terrace farms, the Inca grew beans, peppers, gourds, cassava, peanuts, and avocadoes, as well as producing dried llama and alpaca meat.