I am a pretty experienced gardener but am relatively new to permaculture.
I am starting out on a 10 acre homestead in southern mo. It is hilly & rocky but there is soil , good rain and springs.
also, I have access to more acreage as needed at little to no cost.
The swales on contour and hugelkultur made perfect sense to me as I have tried similar experiments on my own.
I was excited and ready to apply these same techniques to a small cattle operation but, the one caution I picked up off this forum was the possibility of making the ground too soggy. The suggested remedy was to plant trees (which I was going to want to do anyway especially moringa and other legume trees)
My other thoughts were to do swales on contour - with trees - but spaced way out and then more could be added as needed.
I am starting out on this new land in a few weeks and after 10 years of waiting am chomping at the bit! Any advice would be appreciated.
Shepard's approach incorporates a lot of permaculture principles and techniques: observing
nature and replicating the natural eco-system in his area; using the contours of the land
appropriately; incorporating lots of bio-diversity into communites of plants and other organisms
that provide mutual support for each other; etc.
He reminds me of Paul W when he says, 'Let's not tell anyone how easy this is.' <grin!>
Is there a reason that you need swales on this pasture land? For alot of us when we learn about permaculture and some of its techniques feel that we need to use every technique that we learn about, hence the over abundance of herb spirals. I myself have though oh I need to swale my pasture land. But really why. Is it that beneficial to that eco system? I think what I have come to the conclusion of is that I need to use more of a keyline system, incorporating some different ponds throughout the different paddocks. But I have not heard of this silvo pasture and I am excited to spend some time looking into it. Maybe that is your answer.
I think the point is to increase water into the soil in remediation. That will in turn produce more green and brown material (with accelerated decomposition by animals). which will in turn put more carbon/nitrogen in the soil and hold on to more water.
I don't know anything creepy about it. I never intended to plant one kind of tree although, I may have a row of pines(nuts,bark,needles,timber) or oaks (acorns,bark,leaves,timber) running down the middle of the food forest (you would only be able to see the straight line from within the forrest..).
Also, the other point is to increase the edge effect because on the edges are the places where excess fertility is most present.
the three habitat types being (pasture, water, forest/savanna).
The point is a system that can - once hydrated - can survive the hundred year multi-year drought without much loss.
I don't feel the need to use every tool out there but I do want to use all the tools available.
That is why we are here.
If you accuse me of thinking to much, I plead guilty and say amen.
Thanks for all input!
posted 4 years ago
@Chris Stelzer I just got around to listening to the interviews.
I highly recommend them..
I like the breeds he is working with. I am looking at southpolls. These are bred from the same lines..
Why can't someone have a swale-keyline hybrid approach? There may be very good reasons why not to try a hybrid approach, I just don't know what they might be -- I would like to learn this because I'm thinking of using a hybrid design on my new farm. There are certainly entrenched swale and keyline camps. In my limited experience, I think of each approach as a tool in a larger tool box of landscape management, the selection of which depends on a wide set of variables.
I like the idea of these design approaches being tree-growing systems (fruit, nut, N-fixing, etc.). I believe this allows us to move from the two-dimensional pasture to three-dimensional silvopasture when it comes to maximizing the capture of solarenergy, encouraging polyculture, increasing edge effect and having multiple of enterprises from the same design.
I will admit to not being an expert in the keyline system but I learned under Lawton who learned under Mollison. and the keyline per se was not really mentioned much.
My take on the keyline is that it's a way to 'pull water uphill' which there are other methods to achieve that and perhaps more importantly to the keyline system was getting parallel rows for keyline plowing.
I don't need parallel rows because - after setup- I don't wish to rely much on the plow.
At this point I plan on going on contour and using other methods to pull water 'uphill'.
It seems to me like Mark Shepard uses a keyline/swale hybrid system to pretty good effect. His swales are on a 1-2% grade and often of equa-distance from each other. The system works fine! I believe he and Hack Spirko just did a pretty huge implimentation of this type of system in Arkansas. There's some youtube videos of the implementation, I'll try to dig them up and post a link later.