This week Owen Hablutzel will be joining us to answer our questions about Keyline design and much more. Owen is the director for the Permaculture Research Institute USA, a PRI certified instructor, an holistic management certified educator, and a consultant.
We just acquired our Yeomans Plow and finished a wonderful week with Neil Bertrando out at our farm in Hamilton, MT. The plow has been working well, as we note different performance levels based on current state of soils at any given location on the farm (moisture level, sub soil material differences, heavy grasses vs just mowed, etc). We are just finishing up our plowing / seeding this week on 3 pastures totaling 30 acres. Could you briefly describe the necessary follow-up processes we should follow over the next 24 months as it pertains to mowing / grazing, future plowing timelines, add'l seeding, etc. At present we have no animals on the farm, and any grazing would be outside parties wintering their cattle on the property.
Youtube: ABC acres
Welcome to Permies.com Owen. Sustainable Settings, where you're holding your class, is just over the pass south of here. I'm in the process of trying to restore a 30 acre field of cheat grass, with very limited irrigation, to a perennial pasture mix, using rotational grazing, and possibly, keyline plowing. I'd love to participate in your class, but not sure that time and money will permit that this year, maybe next time!
Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
posted 6 years ago
Glad to see classes related to keyline in Colorado. We have some unique challenges with water rights and such.
We are working on 5 acres without the ability to dam up rain water, and very limited irrigation water.
I would love to know how keyline can work in the west both with and without irrigation rights and what the major difference is between the 2.
Also a huge fan of the presentation you did with regards to whirlwind farm in new mexico. Wish there were more examples of that here in Colorado.
Keep up the good work!
http://www.cloud9farms.com/ - Southern Colorado - Zone 5 (-19*f) - 5300ft elevation - 12in rainfall plus irrigation rights
Dairy cows, "hair" sheep, Kune Kune pigs, chickens, guineas and turkeys
Hello Owen, I am quite new to posting comments, but I will take this opportunity to welcome you and to introduce myself. I am also a PRI Certified Instructor from Australia. Upon completion of my internship, I decided to take my skills, ambition and entrepreneur ability and bring permaculture to Barbados and the region. I have registered the NGO as CPRI Caribbean Permaculture Research Institute of Barbados and have just finalized putting a great team together. We have received tremendous support from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water of Barbados and have been granted 15 acres to build a demonstration site and set up a learning center. In addition, we have received financial support from the UNDP and other funding is in the works. We are so excited! My WPN profile and the CPRI Project can be found here http://permacultureglobal.com/users/3549-lorraine-ciarallo The project will commence in a couple more months. Owen, I am particularly interested in Keyline Farming and would like to bring this knowledge to a much needed Caribbean Island and region. I hope I get a chance to win a space in your upcoming class and if not, I sure would like to bring you in as a teacher on this topic. We can time it well so that you can escape the Colorado cold winter and take a break to soak up the Caribbean sunshine and swim at one of their many beautiful beaches in between teaching. There are many farmers who can seriously benefit from Keyline farming and to be able to teach them how to transform their unproductive land into productive land, will be so rewarding not only for them, but for CPRI as well. Farmers have no idea what permaculture can do to create soil fertility and food security which are both high on the governments top agenda, but they will finally get a chance . We intend to help them learn through gentle humble care and consideration of custom and culture. The moment I found permaculture was the day my life changed, but a special thank goes out to Inspiration Farm in Bellingham, WA for making my PDCexperience a memorable one. I hope CPRI could inspire Caribbean's to feel the same way. Best regards!
In response to TIM's question about follow up management after using the yeomans plow... in general will be good to keep the stock off for 4-6 weeks. Sounds like this wont be a problem since you mention you don't currently have animals there... Obviously you'll want to monitor how the vegetation responds... Subsequent management will be first and foremost guided by what your specific goals are for each pasture (not always the same for each), and how those fit into your larger goals, or what Savory is now calling your 'holistic context.' The context that includes your specific quality of life goals/values for the unique whole you manage. have attached an image below with some general rules of thumb for combining keyline ripping with grazing.
How to define your whole under management along with setting a good holistic goal/context for that whole will be part of what we will cover in the Colorado class on the keyline planning process. These are processes developed by the Holistic Management crowd, but very useful when combined with the keyline planning and design process... of course the plow is just one tool within keyline design, and is designed to be used in the larger context of whole farm planning - and only where appropriate... ideally after using a holistic decision process. No doubt with Neil having just been at your place you had some discussion around these kinds of important details... and you may have already had the kind of larger goal this refers to.
In any case, assuming most broadly that general pasture health, vegetations diversity, improved ecosystem process functioning (water cycle, mineral cycle, community dynamics and energy flow), are more or less what you are aiming at in your keyline sub-soiled pastures... and given you can bring in stock over the winter period, on approach would be to strip graze the standing forage during the winter. Since you will know how much forage is available before you bring the animals in (since growing season is over), it is a matter of 'rationing' this out across the time they will be there. If you are able to bring the animals in and out more or less on your schedule, then you may wish to consider bringing in the largest number you can, to get higher densities and therefore 'animal impact', so long as you can get them off as soon as you want to. One end of that spectrum would be bring in enough animals to eat at least half of the forage on one pasture in a single day... then move them to the next, and to the next each subsequent day... then get them off entirely. The other end would be you have a small number of animals and using electric fence graze each pasture in day-long strips, until you get all the way across...
One thing to remember is that if they are out there longer time periods then 'grazing taller' and moving frequently will keep their plane of nutrition higher, and they will perform better. This is because the further down the plant they eat the more lignin type of plant material they will need to digest (or rather their gut biome will digest). Eating a cured grass plant all the way down requires a different set of microbes to digest than if you keep a more even and narrow kind of plant input, such as would happen by grazing only the top few inches or so at one go... You can then come back to that strip in a subsequent pass, and go through the whole pasture again taking the next few inches of the plants, giving the gut microbes time to adjust to a somewhat different 'plane of nutrition.'
Of course, in winter grazing, non-growing season, you don't have to worry about overgrazing the plant, or 'coming back too soon', because there is not a 'plant recovery time' issue... At the same time, it is not a bad plan to leave significant residual standing in the pasture when grazing is done, since soil moisture will be better protected, as well as providing a better environment for new growth and plant emergence in the spring.
You can then follow up with more sub-soiling at the onset of the next rainy season, going a bit deeper than where root systems of your most desired plants have reached to. Basically you want to start to get a feel for how your specific pastures are responding to the treatment... perhaps even experimenting by treating different pastures somewhat differently, different timing, or depth, etc... When monitoring the responses over time, this should be your best guide to how the tool should be used further (of course, within the context of your holistic goal).
Hello KELLY - great to hear you are working on these issues in Colorado... I'm a little familiar with some of the issues in CO around water law... To my knowledge, none of those laws would stop anyone from using the keyline sub-soiling implement... the Yeomans plow. In some cases, where it was addressing a poor water cycle weak-link for example, and especially where other measures to harvest rain were specifically dis-allowed, this could be an ideal effective option.
The major difference between using the plow with or without irrigation is that with irrigation you are more or less guaranteed to get the response that the plow (used propertly on Keyline Pattern Cultivation - another aspect we will cover in detail in the workshop) is capable of producing within your specific soils and context. You would also need to really pay a bit more attention when irrigated to get the pattern right, since you know significant volumes of water will be flowing over the ground, and this pattern spreads that water most evenly, making the irrigation most efficient.
In non-irrigated the pattern is still important, but can be a bit more 'loose' - as long as it is pretty close you are likely to be just as effective as being 'dead-on' in rain fed land. Your overall response there of course depends mightily on what the rain does in the time after you use the sub-soiler... all else being equal.
Hi LINC - Great to hear your out there healing land and so close to Sustainable Settings! Sounds like a great goal for your pasture health - moving toward a perennial system. Grazing can be a very successful way to do this, but would caution that simply using 'rotational' may not get you there, and is bound to crash over the long haul... the critical element when using grazing for these kinds of goals, especially in the long run, is a holistic planning process... We will talk about the basics of this, as applied specifically to grazing, in the Keyline Design course at Sustainable Settings.... that and demonstrate use of the Yeomans plow (which is owned by Sustainable Settings - so since you're so close perhaps you could arrange with them to use/rent it if it fit your goals?). Seems like it would be a shame to not see you over there! Best of luck whatever you are able to work out over there!
Greetings LORRAINE - Wow! Sounds like there is lots going on there with your NGO and PRI Barbados, etc... ! Wonderful to hear of your plans and projects... and would be lovely to meet you, hear more and strategize further collaborations if it works for you to come to Colorado. And as you mention, we can certainly work out other ways to connect if need be. Would enjoy visiting your part of the world too, if it ends up that way... No doubt the livestock and grazing tools can be particularly useful where you are working, as they are likely far more available than a tractor and large plow. Doesn't mean we can't get a plow out there though, if we think it is appropriate. There are also interesting developments with animal powered rippers that could be more keyline style adapted. See pdf attached on the Magoye Ripper. How exciting for the organizations and the local people you are working with to get to discover and learn together how to achieve the improvements they are after... Lets be in touch!