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Still struggling with water harvesting concepts on mostly flat land.  RSS feed

 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1282
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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I've done a lot of research and watched a lot of youtube videos. I still don't quite understand how to do water harvesting on flat land. My biggest issue is that people hold the water and then let gravity take it down to water crops. I can't do that. The only incline we have is at the corner of the property and it drops out of our property. So if I harvested water there I'd have to pump it up the property. Anyway, I'm needing some advice on that. Anyone?
 
Michael Bush
Posts: 33
Location: Sacramento
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You follow the contour lines for elevation. In your case, you have none so you can "draw" them anyway you like. Since you can't see the underlying topography, I would suggest looking at a google earth map to see where the "greener" areas are on your property, places where things are less sparse and assume from that that some subteranian topography traps water and work at concentrating water there using circles.

When it rains does all the rain soak into the ground? if so, then adding swales and the like will not catch more water but I am sure water still flows over your land during a hard rain.

In addition, being flat, erosion is less an issue and you could then channel water from one place to another in ways that would be problematic on a hillside.
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1282
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Michael Bush wrote:You follow the contour lines for elevation. In your case, you have none so you can "draw" them anyway you like. Since you can't see the underlying topography, I would suggest looking at a google earth map to see where the "greener" areas are on your property, places where things are less sparse and assume from that that some subteranian topography traps water and work at concentrating water there using circles.

When it rains does all the rain soak into the ground? if so, then adding swales and the like will not catch more water but I am sure water still flows over your land during a hard rain.

In addition, being flat, erosion is less an issue and you could then channel water from one place to another in ways that would be problematic on a hillside.


We have a mild slope to the 5 acres our house is on which ends in a sharp slope out of our property. I do have swales on this section so far. Our driveway is our biggest issue as that is where most of the water stays. We've set up some retention ponds and I've made ditches that lead the water to the swales I constructed. The sharp slope to the road is a big issue on our driveway though. That is where all the erosion occurs and I haven't figured out how to fix that yet. The rest of our 40 acres is flat flat. It's kind of nice but I was stumped on the water works aspect of it.
 
Michael Bush
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Location: Sacramento
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Is the rest of the flat land above or below the incline your road is on? How much rain do you get and when?

Can you post some pictures?

What would you like to happen?
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1282
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Michael Bush wrote:Is the rest of the flat land above or below the incline your road is on? How much rain do you get and when?

Can you post some pictures?

What would you like to happen?


All of our property is above the incline.
I posted a pic of the driveway after we did earth works. lol

Our annual percipitation is 15.95 inches.


Also posted a pic of a swale with berm on the 5 acres that is mildly sloped leading to a big slope. It slopes far enough that if someone is standing on the road we can't see them from the house but the slope is only severe in the last 100 yards of the property.


I'd like to keep as much water as I could on our property and I'd really like to make it so my bushes and trees were not fighting drought constantly.
20140805_195428.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20140805_195428.jpg]
THis is the driveway
tree.jpg
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Pic of swale on 5 acre curve
 
Ben Stallings
Posts: 160
Location: Emporia, KS
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If an above-ground catchment tank would be useful, you can suspend a tarpaulin above it on 4 flagpoles when rain is expected, allowing water to flow into the tank from a hole in the center of the tarp (ideally secured to the tank opening so it doesn't blow around). The only elevation you need to irrigate your property without pumps goes under the tank. When it's sunny, tie the same tarp down over the tank to dicourage algae growth.
 
Bill Bradbury
pollinator
Posts: 684
Location: Richmond, Utah
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Danielle,
I can't tell if your driveway is flat or if it has a slight slope to the downhill side where there is a small swale as it should. The puddles may just be from the recent excavator work, hard to tell.
It looks as though your water harvesting is quite good, but the land has issues. I think I see a lot of cheat grass with some yellow clover here and there. This is common where the land is degraded. Cheat grass is the only plant that I will burn. Catch it in the spring when the grass is just starting to set seed and burn it with a propane weed burning setup. Broadcast grain, alfalfa, clovers, bird seed mix and other "tough guys" into the burnt area. Let that mature and you will have attracted much wildlife who will fertilize the dead ground and bring your place back to life. Then you can start planting nativish kinds of fruit and nut trees and bushes into the budding polyculture that has erupted.
I buy seed for this restoration from Intermountain Farmer's Association, who should have a store near you.
Best of luck to you!
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1282
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Ben Stallings wrote:If an above-ground catchment tank would be useful, you can suspend a tarpaulin above it on 4 flagpoles when rain is expected, allowing water to flow into the tank from a hole in the center of the tarp (ideally secured to the tank opening so it doesn't blow around). The only elevation you need to irrigate your property without pumps goes under the tank. When it's sunny, tie the same tarp down over the tank to dicourage algae growth.


I don't believe I could do a tarpaulin type catchment system because of the hurricane force winds we regularly get here.
 
elle sagenev
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Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Bill Bradbury wrote:Danielle,
I can't tell if your driveway is flat or if it has a slight slope to the downhill side where there is a small swale as it should. The puddles may just be from the recent excavator work, hard to tell.
It looks as though your water harvesting is quite good, but the land has issues. I think I see a lot of cheat grass with some yellow clover here and there. This is common where the land is degraded. Cheat grass is the only plant that I will burn. Catch it in the spring when the grass is just starting to set seed and burn it with a propane weed burning setup. Broadcast grain, alfalfa, clovers, bird seed mix and other "tough guys" into the burnt area. Let that mature and you will have attracted much wildlife who will fertilize the dead ground and bring your place back to life. Then you can start planting nativish kinds of fruit and nut trees and bushes into the budding polyculture that has erupted.
I buy seed for this restoration from Intermountain Farmer's Association, who should have a store near you.
Best of luck to you!


The pictures were bad. Sorry about that. Most of my pictures of the road are of my trenches leading the water to the swales and ditches. The puddles, however, are because our driveway has been eroding for 2 decades. The driveway is much lower than the surrounding land and the water stays on it. When it rains my ducks move from their pond to the driveway it gets so bad.

We do have a lot of sweet yellow clover growing everywhere. I'm not sure what cheat grass is. i'll have to look it up. We have a ton of stink weed on the majority of the property though. I've bought enough seed to do 5 acres this winter. I'll see about getting all 40 seeded as soon as I can but I've put that behind the tree purchasing as far as financial priority.

What's sad is we've lived here 6 years and this is the first year I've had any desire to do anything with the land. For 6 years it's sat and it hasn't improved at all.
 
Bill Bradbury
pollinator
Posts: 684
Location: Richmond, Utah
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That's a good way to start, 5 acres now and piece by piece. Cheat grass is a fast growing grass that sets seed before other grasses really even come up. That's why I burn it, it's brown and burnable when the other grasses are young enough to not be damaged. This renders the seeds sterile as well.
This sounds crazy to a lot of people, but I believe in attracting wild critters by feeding them a large portion of what I grow. The fertility increases due to their hard work eating and pooping all over your place. It looks like you have hardpan clay soil, the best way to deal with it is the Yeoman's plow on contour. Rip the soil and plant the deep rooted stuff there.
BTW I grew up on a place like this. We dry-farmed alfalfa for our critters back in the 80's, but my parents moved and the place looks like yours did before you started working on it. Every dry-farm around ours is now defunct. There are a few guys trying to graze it, but they don't know what they are doing and it is all getting worse. I wish you all the best in your struggle, but know that it will not be easy.
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1282
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Bill Bradbury wrote:That's a good way to start, 5 acres now and piece by piece. Cheat grass is a fast growing grass that sets seed before other grasses really even come up. That's why I burn it, it's brown and burnable when the other grasses are young enough to not be damaged. This renders the seeds sterile as well.
This sounds crazy to a lot of people, but I believe in attracting wild critters by feeding them a large portion of what I grow. The fertility increases due to their hard work eating and pooping all over your place. It looks like you have hardpan clay soil, the best way to deal with it is the Yeoman's plow on contour. Rip the soil and plant the deep rooted stuff there.
BTW I grew up on a place like this. We dry-farmed alfalfa for our critters back in the 80's, but my parents moved and the place looks like yours did before you started working on it. Every dry-farm around ours is now defunct. There are a few guys trying to graze it, but they don't know what they are doing and it is all getting worse. I wish you all the best in your struggle, but know that it will not be easy.


Thank you very much for your advice!!
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