The concept of allowing the land and its contours to dictate the best practices for every acre fascinates many sustainable farmers. If you are looking for some mind fodder on this subject, try Water For Every Farm: Yeomans Keyline Plan by P.A. Yeomans.
The books starts with a brief explanation of keyline (a plan of irrigation custom-tailored to the lay of the land). It then launches into an examination of land contours and how they relate to tillage and irrigation. These contours then become the basis of choosing the best sites for dams, roads, trees, fences, and more.
While the book is heavy on theory (e.g., the chapter on city planning), it is backed by practical experience. Yeomans implemented his ideas in the challenging landscape of Australia. By all appearances, he made highly efficient use of his water resources for irrigation.
Water For Every Farm is not exactly a resource for beginners. It’s rather technical and not always easy to follow. However, if irrigation interests you, you will probably find the time spent studying keyline principles to be valuable. Even if you are simply interested in effective land use, there is still information here you can use.
Perhaps for most readers, the best way to use this book would be to read the first four chapters to understand keyline, why it matters, and how to identify the contours of the land. After that, skip to chapters that interest you, such as those on cultivation, water resource development, or soil fertility.
Water for Every Farm is rather heavy reading, but it does present some information well worth considering on adapting farming practices to the land.