Is it art or is it smart conservation? Sometimes, the answer is both. One farmer in South Australia is fighting back against soil erosion using a patchwork of geometric designs plowed right into his fields. Brian Fischer, who farms 60 km (37 miles) north of Adelaide, came up with a creative and visually stunning way to protect his precious topsoil in the aftermath of recent brush fires. The result is a network of carefully planned swirls that create ridges in the topsoil, and Fischer says it’s working like a charm.

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Fischer says the method is generations old. The design he used comes from a technique his father used on his farmland as early as 1944, but he admitted to a local radio station that he has no idea who came up with the concept originally, since his father most likely learned it from older farmers. The intricate geometric patterns, which Fischer says took several days to plow into the land, create ridges just high enough that they block the wind and prevent it from carrying away valuable topsoil. The erosion-fighting artwork has saved 15cm (nearly 6 inches) of topsoil, according to the creative farmer.

Related: We’ve lost a third of the world’s farmlands in the last 40 years

In addition to being smart about erosion control, Fischer also acted as his own photographer. He captured these stunning images of his art, in his fields, from his eldest son’s airplane. Because of the success of his unique approach to topsoil conservation, the farmer has been getting quite a bit of press in his local region, and may be inspiring other farmers to give geometric art a go for the sake of preserving their topsoil.

As Fischer explained to 3AW Radio, “It’s really worked. It’s stopped [the erosion] completely. You only get one shot at doing that. If you do it and don’t get it right, if you get it wrong, you can’t go back.”

Via The Guardian and 3AW Radio

Images via Brian Fischer