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Need Water! please help me!  RSS feed

 
Federico Carocci
Posts: 13
Location: Italy
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Hello Everybody , i'm Federico from Italy.
first i want to excuse me for my english, i'm not so good for that.

so: i've got a SERIOUS problem: there a lack of water in my country.
this is my land: http://goo.gl/maps/7fYz

i've bought this 7 hectars 4 years ago, i've spent a lot of time and money to make the soil better, with alfalfa (medicago sativa) , planting an orchad, making a vegetables garden, and so on.
i've made a well, 48 meters deep, i've found water on 30 mt and this is good for me BUT!

we have NO serious rainy days for months! all the region is in critical situation, i use mulch (hay and paper) in order to prevent evaporation, but the crop area with grain and barley and alfalfa are exposed (even with intercrops technique).

i'm looking for a solution and i've found this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dew_pond

and this in permies forum: http://www.permies.com/t/3589/green-building/Dew-pond

please, i'm desperate! i need water ON my land , not UNDER.... pump up water in Italy cost a lot of money, we cannot build wind pump (we have no useful wind however).

this is the actual situation of my land: http://noielapermacultura.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/stato-attuale-model-1.pdf


any help is welcome.

have a good life!

-Federico-
 
Daniel Morse
Posts: 255
Location: SW Michigan
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Dude, rain. Pray for rain. You have to have the moisture. How about greywater? But it is not usually enough for more than a garden. Great mins on this site. I am not sure where your located, but I was in Chile and they had dew nets. Harvesting water from the fog and dew?

Or land here is getting more dry as we speak. Luckly we had rain last night.

Good luck my friend.
 
Federico Carocci
Posts: 13
Location: Italy
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Daniel Morse wrote:Dude, rain. Pray for rain. You have to have the moisture. How about greywater? But it is not usually enough for more than a garden. Great mins on this site. I am not sure where your located, but I was in Chile and they had dew nets. Harvesting water from the fog and dew?

Or land here is getting more dry as we speak. Luckly we had rain last night.

Good luck my friend.


Hi Daniel, i do not completely understand: does dew nets works or not?

anyone have some experience about water from dew?

i was in tenerife two month later, sub-tropical climax, a seed fell into the ground and suddenly grows up...a paradise! then i came back to Italy : another story...

 
Leila Rich
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Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Federico, I'd love to read about people's experience with dew ponds
That permies thread looks very encouraging!
Buried wood could be worth exploring: some people are modifying hugelkutur for arid climates. I know sourcing organic matter can be difficult, do trees get cut/chipped near you?
 
John Seay
Posts: 26
Location: Richmond, Va
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I don't have experience in your climate; but have you seen the permaculture documentary "greening the desert"? youtube it if you haven't. My main take away from that film is to build as many swales as you can fit onto the property. This will soak the rain water into the land shallow enough for the plants to be able to use it. I certainly don't like in a dry environment; but with my main swale that dug last year I already have results. Everything up hill is looking dry and faded while down hill it is lush and green.
 
Federico Carocci
Posts: 13
Location: Italy
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Leila Rich wrote:Federico, I'd love to read about people's experience with dew ponds
That permies thread looks very encouraging!
Buried wood could be worth exploring: some people are modifying hugelkutur for arid climates. I know sourcing organic matter can be difficult, do trees get cut/chipped near you?


Hi Leila, in my country we can't cut woods, we have to buy them from timber seller at 300 €/m3

actually i started to use a weird technique for my vegetable garden

no soil tillage, permantely covered with grass and hay... then i sprayed a mixture called "borlanda" in italian....it's the byprocess of vines distillation, i added to the solution some composting accelerator yeast...

lot of work on the first time, then it should control weeds and make the soil more drought-resistant...
but it's only a try...i don't have any result...
maybe after a year...but not now...
 
Yone' Ward
Posts: 135
Location: Springdale, WA USA - Cold Mediterranean Climate
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It sounds like you have a warmer version of the climate I have. You could look into solar pumps, but they can be expensive to set up. I'm going to invest heavily into Hugelkultur my self, I don't see me getting anything of any consequence growing any other way. If you have enough clay to pull off a dew pond by all means give it a try too.
 
Levente Andras
Posts: 174
Location: Harghita County, Transylvania, Romania
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Hi Federico,

Here are a few thoughts:

- I believe that earlier this year (winter and spring) there were heavy rains in many areas of Italy (it rained quite a lot in Le Marche, which is close to you). So you should really try and set up some type of water collection system such as a pond or swales - and do it urgently

- I saw that you attempted to grow wheat ... perhaps you should consider some other crop - something that is not sensitive to water shortage. Same for the mix of fruit trees. Have you thought of selecting species and cultivars that are less affected by dry weather ? (Persimmons come to mind...)

- I saw the aerial photo of your land... very open and sunny... in central Italy, that means total exposure to sun & heat, and fast evaporation. Perhaps you should plant more trees - of the kind that give a bit more shade, making sure that they are drought & heat tolerant. If I was in your place, I would try to transfrom some of the 7 hectares into woodland...

- I noted on your website that you sow perennial rygrass (Lolium perenne) among other green manures, but Lolium perenne is very sensitive to hot weather (=likes cool temperatures), and needs water. I don't understand why someone would even think of commercially selling this type of grass seeds in a relatively hot (and dry) country like Italy... You may need to re-think the mix of the plants you sow

- You mention mulching. When did you put down the mulch? In my experience it's best to mulch after / during the rainy periods, after the water has soaked in. It's less good to mulch when the soil has already started to dry out - and almost useless after the soil is already dry.

- How thick is the mulch? Again in may experience, mulch that is thinner than 10 cm (when fairly compacted) will not keep your soil from drying out at the high temperatures that you get in Italy in this period (over 30 Celsius). If I was in your place, I would put down 20 cm or more

- Do you mulch around the trees? You should...

I hope this helps

L_
 
Federico Carocci
Posts: 13
Location: Italy
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Levente Andras wrote:Hi Federico,

Here are a few thoughts:

- I believe that earlier this year (winter and spring) there were heavy rains in many areas of Italy (it rained quite a lot in Le Marche, which is close to you). So you should really try and set up some type of water collection system such as a pond or swales - and do it urgently



hi Andras, this year we have heavy rainfall in the center of Italy, we have much snow too....but not in my valley! i was absolutely incredulous to see snow everywere excepting my area, no snow, no rain...
i went up to "monte serano" in the winter, the highest mountain in the area and i see a large hole with no snow...freezing , cold air at -10 degrees but not any sort of water...so...
my ideas for the land is to fill it up with trees and ponds...the trouble is the first to third years...because young plants are really susceptible to drought....


- I saw that you attempted to grow wheat ... perhaps you should consider some other crop - something that is not sensitive to water shortage. Same for the mix of fruit trees. Have you thought of selecting species and cultivars that are less affected by dry weather ? (Persimmons come to mind...)


yes, my orchad have only rustic, drought-proof plants...i'm not worried about plants, i'm worried about large crops...expecially cereal.

- I saw the aerial photo of your land... very open and sunny... in central Italy, that means total exposure to sun & heat, and fast evaporation. Perhaps you should plant more trees - of the kind that give a bit more shade, making sure that they are drought & heat tolerant. If I was in your place, I would try to transfrom some of the 7 hectares into woodland...


this is the actual situation:



Uploaded with ImageShack.us

and this is how the land comes to be in the (i hope) near future:


Uploaded with ImageShack.us

- I noted on your website that you sow perennial rygrass (Lolium perenne) among other green manures, but Lolium perenne is very sensitive to hot weather (=likes cool temperatures), and needs water. I don't understand why someone would even think of commercially selling this type of grass seeds in a relatively hot (and dry) country like Italy... You may need to re-think the mix of the plants you sow


do you have any ideas? any names to tell me?

- You mention mulching. When did you put down the mulch? In my experience it's best to mulch after / during the rainy periods, after the water has soaked in. It's less good to mulch when the soil has already started to dry out - and almost useless after the soil is already dry.



the mulch is everytime in the ground, when it's cold, in order to prevent freezing damage, when is hot, for drought...i never leave my land without mulch...


- How thick is the mulch? Again in may experience, mulch that is thinner than 10 cm (when fairly compacted) will not keep your soil from drying out at the high temperatures that you get in Italy in this period (over 30 Celsius). If I was in your place, I would put down 20 cm or more

- Do you mulch around the trees? You should...



tree have 40 cm of mulch , vegetable have about 20...



L_
 
doug peddle
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Hi Frederico,

I'm sorry to hear about your situation, sounds very similar to what my folks are going through in Portugal right now.

Have you thought about setting up Waterboxx's around your key tree's/plants?

http://www.groasis.com/en

Pro's: After the initial watering NO FURTHER WATERING is required, ever (until you remove the box maybe after a year or two!)

Con's: Cost = Around 12 euros per box
Needs a small amount of water for the initial watering (but sounds like you can get this from your bore?)

Also, what about any sources of grey water from any near by houses? Even if this is collected in buckets/cisterns, its still another way to get water to site.

Best of luck,

Doug.

 
David Miller
Posts: 286
Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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Is there any local initiative to plant trees throughout your valley? If not, no rains will ever return. Just saying, forests create rain. Swales and trees, all on the community level and you might just save your land from eternal drought. With small acreage with no rain, you have no control. Is your community full of farmers?
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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if you haven't read gaia's garden (2nd edition) by toby hemenway, see if you can get your hands on a copy, amazon had it for sale. There is some good information in there. Sepp Holtzer is putting out a new book about water I think, watch for that (on here)..info should be avail soon.

There might be info if you google greening the desert..I know there are some web sites that are avail on people doing that...do some searches.

If I am correcct, they begin by building some sort of wind protection, and then begin to build the water containment in shade of that and with wind blocked..and then plant some trees for starting a food forest in the area and use all the water available on that spot..stones, logs, etc buried to hold water, tree, etc..then once you get some tree plant growing which gives shade and mulch, then you work out from that point with nitrogen fixers, dynamic accumulators, etc..

save water in a bucket in the house or use greywater system to get water to that baby food forest area..mulch above, stones an logs below..etc..
 
Levente Andras
Posts: 174
Location: Harghita County, Transylvania, Romania
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David Miller wrote:Is there any local initiative to plant trees throughout your valley? If not, no rains will ever return. Just saying, forests create rain. Swales and trees, all on the community level and you might just save your land from eternal drought. With small acreage with no rain, you have no control. Is your community full of farmers?


Hmm... Question is: has the valley been historically dryer than the surrounding area? For instance, if a valley is on the leeward slope of the hill / mountain, it can be drier because of a habitual "rain shadow". So I'm not sure that planting of trees will make the rains "return". As for "forests create rain" ... what do we know about this, in the context of Mediterranean climate? I'd be interested to learn about this, if you can point me to the relevant data. For now, I'm not sure... But I accept that the trees may create a more favourable microclimate, and perhaps aid water management in other ways.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Here are some references to the biotic pump theory of rain: http://www.bioticregulation.ru/pump/pump.php

The action seems to be created by forests, not by scattered trees. The Mediterranean used to be heavily forested, so it probably used to be wetter and the moisture retained better in the soil. http://www.enotes.com/topic/Deforestation_during_the_Roman_period

Even if forests don't cause rain (evidence suggests they do) they help retain moisture more effectively in the landscape, so even if there were no greater amount of rain, it would be more effective in the presence of forests.

 
Levente Andras
Posts: 174
Location: Harghita County, Transylvania, Romania
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Here are some references to the biotic pump theory of rain: http://www.bioticregulation.ru/pump/pump.php

The action seems to be created by forests, not by scattered trees. The Mediterranean used to be heavily forested, so it probably used to be wetter and the moisture retained better in the soil. http://www.enotes.com/topic/Deforestation_during_the_Roman_period

Even if forests don't cause rain (evidence suggests they do) they help retain moisture more effectively in the landscape, so even if there were no greater amount of rain, it would be more effective in the presence of forests.



I don't argue with the theory that forests cause rain (let alone that they contribute to better water management), but with the extent to which trees (or even a forest) planted on a fairly limited area can create rain that immediately benefits (= falls on) the same limited area.

The proponents of the theory of biotic regulation of precipitation (which by the way appears to be still under debate) suggest that "precipitation over territories covered by the remaining natural forests of the Earth (Amazonia, Equatorial Africa, Siberia) does not decrease with distance from the ocean and may even grow over several thousand kilometers"

I note the huge geographic scale of reference (we're talking huge forests).

Is this theory (whether good or bad / proven or unproven) of any immediate relevance to the 7 hectares or so that we are talking about? My reading of the materials you shared with us seem to suggest that that the theory is irrelevant to this particular topic.

The authors also wrote:

"It is not possible to perform an artificial reforestation. As we mentioned above, biotic pump is a complex information-rich phenomenon that appeared as the product of biological evolution hundreds of millions of years ago. Simply replanting trees will not help. However, it should be possible to facilitate the natural processes of forest self-recovery. We foresee that if the biotic pump theory is seriously taken, and the task of global reforestation recognized, one can expect the appearance of ecological medical science. This science, similar to medical science which facilitates human recovery from various diseases, will search the ways to facilitate self-recovery of natural forest ecosystems after the various disturbances. Complete restoration of the biotic pump power is possible when the natural process of self-recovery (succession) has been completed. In boreal ecosystems this takes more than hundred years. However, the first significant effects can be expected within the few decades when the biological productivity of the forest ecosystem is restored."

Note also the time scale that they are talking about. A hundred years ... a few decades... not very relevant when you want water next week, next month, next year... otherwise your crops die and you go bankrupt and you need to sell the land and leave all the tree planting to the new owner ...

Sorry to be hair-splitting... blame my science teachers in high school who taught me discipline in thinking
 
David Miller
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I don't necessarily argue with any of the above, you'll notice though that I did encourage the poster to get their community involved since 7 acres would easily be considered a drop in the ecological bucket. If you can reforest a valley, you stand a chance of at least increasing the groundwater height significantly. As far as each of us dealing with huge problems like drought, on our own; good luck.
 
Rose Pinder
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Federico, what is your average annual rainfall, and typical length of time in the summer without rain? Is wind a significant drying factor?

"please, i'm desperate! i need water ON my land , not UNDER"

I think what you need is water WITHIN your land.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Levente Andras wrote:
I don't argue with the theory that forests cause rain (let alone that they contribute to better water management), but with the extent to which trees (or even a forest) planted on a fairly limited area can create rain that immediately benefits (= falls on) the same limited area.


Personally I don't think they can, I think the effect is over large areas, as you point out. Trees in the local area influence the infiltration of what rain does fall.

Lots of small earthworks can have a significant effect on water retention in the soil. http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/
 
Leila Rich
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Federico, are you growing cereals commercially? As Levente mentioned, most wheat is pretty sensitive to heat. I can't read your plans, but are you growing durum wheat? It appears to be more heat/drought-resistant than some other wheat.
Do you rely/hope to rely on an income from the land's production? Apologies if you've covered this.
Federico Carocci wrote: i need water ON my land , not UNDER....

Rose Pinder wrote: I think what you need is water WITHIN your land.

I think Rose makes a good point. Dryland water harvesting generally keeps water underground, with swales etc. In a hot, dry climate, having all your water on the surface means more evaporation.
So while dew ponds could be a useful part of the design, I can't imagine they'd be 'the answer'.
Considering the depth some plant roots can get to, I would thing under is a great place for the water
Could you have access to the actual grape prunings? They could make good bulk in swales.
 
Rose Pinder
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Aren't dew ponds a wet/cold climate technique (I've read about them in the UK)? I can't imagine them surviving in the dry climate I live in, although in places where there is water already (lakes and rivers) we do get alot of dew in the winter.
 
David Miller
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Federico, I've been racking my brain on your request for help. I wouldn't count myself as an expert but I've been intrigued by your plight. What is your average rainfall? Would it be possible to setup water collection roofing or otherwise at the highest point on your land, then construct a very large fero-cement cistern to retain this water? After that its a matter of running orchard tubing (in the US its 3/4-1" plastic piping that is very inexpensive and durable) to your swales and production areas so that you can recharge your primary cropping areas as the seasons rains dry up? Do you have a good rainy season to stockpile from? When I was investigating fero-cement cisterns there was an example that sticks in my mind, the people discussed where doing just what I describe above! Not sure about the tubing, swales etc but they were using seasonal rains to stretch the dry season through stockpiling.
 
Tyler Ludens
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A lot of the time we don't have dew in this dry climate because night temperatures don't fall to the dewpoint. So there would not be sufficient condensation for a dew pond to function, if I understand them right. Nor would dew nets.
 
Yone' Ward
Posts: 135
Location: Springdale, WA USA - Cold Mediterranean Climate
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Ok, it look like this is you:
http://www.weather.com/outlook/travel/businesstraveler/wxclimatology/monthly/graph/ITUM1119?
Correct?

This is me:
http://www.weather.com/outlook/travel/businesstraveler/wxclimatology/monthly/graph/99173?

It looks like you are wetter and milder than where I live, so you should actually be ok. You are probably going to want to go for hugelkultur swales to hang on to the water you get, and focus heavy on getting the tallest trees of a food forest in and growing first to filter out some of that sun so you can hold onto more of your water. That's what I'm aiming for anyway.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Dramatic rehabilitation of dry lands:
 
Federico Carocci
Posts: 13
Location: Italy
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David Miller wrote:Is there any local initiative to plant trees throughout your valley? If not, no rains will ever return. Just saying, forests create rain. Swales and trees, all on the community level and you might just save your land from eternal drought. With small acreage with no rain, you have no control. Is your community full of farmers?


WOW what a lot of reply! thanks to all!

so: there a lot of farmers in my community, all of them absolutely convinced that a good tree is a "cut-down" tree...so...shit happens.
 
Federico Carocci
Posts: 13
Location: Italy
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Levente Andras wrote:
David Miller wrote:Is there any local initiative to plant trees throughout your valley? If not, no rains will ever return. Just saying, forests create rain. Swales and trees, all on the community level and you might just save your land from eternal drought. With small acreage with no rain, you have no control. Is your community full of farmers?


Hmm... Question is: has the valley been historically dryer than the surrounding area? For instance, if a valley is on the leeward slope of the hill / mountain, it can be drier because of a habitual "rain shadow". So I'm not sure that planting of trees will make the rains "return". As for "forests create rain" ... what do we know about this, in the context of Mediterranean climate? I'd be interested to learn about this, if you can point me to the relevant data. For now, I'm not sure... But I accept that the trees may create a more favourable microclimate, and perhaps aid water management in other ways.


some data:

annual precipitation (mmH2o/m2)


Uploaded with ImageShack.us

temperature raising:


Uploaded with ImageShack.us

number of annual rainy days:


Uploaded with ImageShack.us

and this is my favourite one: annual number of natural disaster:
including heavy rains, hailstorm, drought, fire and so on...


Uploaded with ImageShack.us
 
Federico Carocci
Posts: 13
Location: Italy
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a lot of time since my last reply...lot of work, lot of sun.

so: the point is "shadow" and "swales".
as Tyler Ludens says: night temperature is too high for dew ponds; chemical analisys of the land says that we have a land with poor organic substance.
so i think that my goal is to provide a better shading system for my crops (maybe with walnuts, fig tree and so on...) using swales in order to stock water within the land.

do anybody can send me pictures of real productive orchad with swales? please...

wheat: i use triticum aestivum but isn't the right choice, maybe last year i use "gentil rosso" a local variety of wheat that is less susceptible in front of drought and micosis such "fusariosi"

maybe i snap some photo of the land in order to share the actual situation.
 
Levente Andras
Posts: 174
Location: Harghita County, Transylvania, Romania
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Federico Carocci wrote:
David Miller wrote:Is there any local initiative to plant trees throughout your valley? If not, no rains will ever return. Just saying, forests create rain. Swales and trees, all on the community level and you might just save your land from eternal drought. With small acreage with no rain, you have no control. Is your community full of farmers?


WOW what a lot of reply! thanks to all!

so: there a lot of farmers in my community, all of them absolutely convinced that a good tree is a "cut-down" tree...so...shit happens.


That's exactly what I suspected, but I kept my mouth shut lest I should sound too negative... Try and convince the Italian farmers that they need more trees, not less... and that maybe some of the land may need to be converted to forest / woodland ... they will think you're mad

Federico: I saw your other reply with the rainfall statistics. the graphs show the values for your larger area (Perugia) ... the point I was trying to make was that if all around you there was rain but your p land didn't get very much, then you may be in the "rain shadow" of some mountain... I don't know, just guessing. And if that's true, then you will have to try double hard to improve the water situation
 
Levente Andras
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Federico Carocci wrote:a lot of time since my last reply...lot of work, lot of sun.

so: the point is "shadow" and "swales".
as Tyler Ludens says: night temperature is too high for dew ponds; chemical analisys of the land says that we have a land with poor organic substance.
so i think that my goal is to provide a better shading system for my crops (maybe with walnuts, fig tree and so on...) using swales in order to stock water within the land.

do anybody can send me pictures of real productive orchad with swales? please...

wheat: i use triticum aestivum but isn't the right choice, maybe last year i use "gentil rosso" a local variety of wheat that is less susceptible in front of drought and micosis such "fusariosi"

maybe i snap some photo of the land in order to share the actual situation.


You also asked about suitable grasses... I read on your website that you also sowed white clover, which I think should be ok as it's very adaptable and does quite well also in dryer climates.

I have a small project in Transylvania, Romania (climate: increasingly dry and hot at this time of year). The land was originally a hay meadow with a variety of grasses, which have been suffering a lot over the past few years because of the dry and hot springs & summers (and this year also because of chafer grubs which eat the roots of the grasses). Three years ago we had to remove the topsoil on some of the land for some earthworks. After that we sowed white clover on the bared soil. Now the clover is bright green and healthy, whereas the original grasses on the rest of the land look really sickly, even though they are "native" grasses that have always grown on that land ...!

Climate change is happening in front of our eyes... we need to adapt
 
Nicholas Mason
Posts: 96
Location: Colton Or
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dog duck goat
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I would try some key lining to help improve the organic material in the soil, and water retention. Also maybe some rain water harvesting, I know you said you don't get very much rain, but it doesn't take a lot of rain to fill up a big container.
 
Miles Flansburg
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An interesting old thread that I thought I would bump to the top.

I had read a book that mentioned the biotic pump theory that was mentioned above.

Here is a website with a paper explaining the theory.

http://bioticregulation.ru/pump/pump.php
 
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