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How to deal with water on this site  RSS feed

 
Rw Wood
Posts: 18
Location: Seneca Falls, NY
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I have about 5 acres that's mostly pasture and pretty much flat. The soil is heavy clay and, being in the Finger Lakes area, doesn't drain well after a storm or in the Spring. I'm planning on putting in more small hoop houses and high tunnels than what I currently have, which will only add to the problem. I've attached a photo of the property with contour lines marked at 1 foot intervals to show how little contour and drainage there is. To be honest, I'm not 100% convinced that the contour that Google Earth came up with is entirely accurate. I haven't yet checked with a transit, but I think there is actually less fall than what is represented. I'm looking for suggestions for how to improve drainage, as well as put in some kind of rainwater/runoff catchment and storage so that I have adequate water for irrigation and livestock. Money, like with most start ups, is limited. If it weren't, I'd probably sell the property and move somewhere more in the mountains.

The red line delineates the approximate property boundaries, and North is at the top of the photo. For some reason the red line didn't show up on the right hand side, but it should be about even with the ends of the North and South boundary lines.

Thanks.
TopoMap3OfProperty.jpg
[Thumbnail for TopoMap3OfProperty.jpg]
 
Jon La Foy
Posts: 97
Location: Hopkinsville, KY (Western KY) Zone 7
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Are you trying to harvest the water, or drain it off of your property? That will determine how you deal wit the water on your land...
 
Rw Wood
Posts: 18
Location: Seneca Falls, NY
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As I stated, "I'm looking for suggestions for how to improve drainage, as well as put in some kind of rainwater/runoff catchment and storage so that I have adequate water for irrigation and livestock."

Thanks.
 
Jon La Foy
Posts: 97
Location: Hopkinsville, KY (Western KY) Zone 7
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So you want to drain the water to a storage/holding area...? You can put a pond or two in your low areas where it's flat. If it's clay then there should be no problem with it holding water. Build swales along your slopes to maximize water use and decrease erosion (if it's a problem). Keeping your livestock in the field gives them access to the pond so they can drink.
 
Rw Wood
Posts: 18
Location: Seneca Falls, NY
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I think that would be a great idea and what I would do if I had more than 5 acres that have no more than ten feet difference in height between the lowest and highest points on the property. That's including the fact that the house is on the highest point on the five acres. Putting in a pond or two would carve a huge chunk out of the usable pasture and leave me with a big pile of clay to try to dispose of. Spreading it over the rest of the land would only serve to make it less productive if not totally unproductive. Any place I've put in any kind of a ditch for drainage tile, like for underground downspouts, takes forever to grass over again.

Thanks again.
 
Jon La Foy
Posts: 97
Location: Hopkinsville, KY (Western KY) Zone 7
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I would at least put a swale or two on the uphill that's on the north end of your property. Depending on how much rain you get depends on how far apart they are. The more rain the closer together. As for a pond, even one that is fifteen feet across would help and wouldn't be very big. I have 4.5 acres and will start building my ~20 foot pond next week. All the dirt you remove can be used as a berm/dam. This will solve that problem and make you do less work. Place it on the side of a hill and the runoff can fill it up.
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