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Drying the soil

 
Jack Edmondson
Posts: 240
Location: Central Texas zone 8a, 800 chill hours 28 blessed inches of rain
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I am posting here since this forum seems to have the subject matter experts on Keyline techniques and water management. My question is can key line be used to reduce moisture from the land as well as rehydrate?

I have an opportunity to purchase 84 acres of bottomland in central Texas. The soil maps show it to have some clay, but primarily loamy soil. Walking the land it is almost flat with a year round creek running through it. It is at the bottom of a water shed and I have witness first hand a typical hill country flash flood inundate the land. The highway that fronts it channels millions of gallons of water across the property making about 30 percent of it a flood plain. The events happen every 5 to 10 years, so I am not worried about it when it happens. The water is flowing but not deep and destructive. My concern is the amount of water that seems to stay on the land long after a rain; and the lack of vitality of the grass. It seems the ground stays saturated and inhibits the growth.

Having read P.A. Yeoman's book (at least an online version), I think his 'guideline' principles might work, since the key line is more about elevation inflection, which does not happen in this case. I am thinking if I could use a sub soiler to rip the ground (hopefully penetrating a hard pan I suspect exists) and run the guidelines towards the creek I can reduce moisture in the top soil enough to allow health growth of plants. I have not had a soil sample done, but understand I may have clay and need to amend the soil. I am hoping through restorative agriculture principles make this land very productive. However, I need to solve the upper soil saturation issue first.

Any thoughts on how high water table/bottom land can be better managed with the principles used to rehydrate the land? Texas has droughts (as we re learn too often) but this area gets 42 inches of rain annually. I am not too worried about channelling the water off the land. If the soil is healthy and the plants are in balance, I believe they can survive dry spells better than the constant wet. I may even be able to irrigate from the creek during high stress periods. Any discussion would be welcome.
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1356
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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In the bottom 'swampy' land, dig a 2ft deep ditch and dump then dirt right in behind, so that you have a ditch and a berm. Do a series of these, so thst you have -2ft valley and a +2ft hill. Plant your grass/veggies/trees on the 2ft high "hills" and the plants will be happy with dry feet in the wet times and the extra water in the ditches in the drought time.
 
Brett Andrzejewski
gardener
Posts: 318
Location: Buffalo, NY
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I was quite perplexed when I first read the title of this post. I wondered 'why would anyone want to get rid of water in the desert?' Yet, I can understand now after reading the post. My thoughts:

Is the water, after a heavy rain, evaporating and leaving behind salt?
Did something happen upstream in the water shed to increase run-off?
Why won't the water infiltrate the ground faster? soil compaction? hard pan a few inches under the soil?

Right now I don't have advice, my mind wants to play detective and get more information.
 
Jack Edmondson
Posts: 240
Location: Central Texas zone 8a, 800 chill hours 28 blessed inches of rain
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SB,

Definitely plan to use ditch/swales for the trees in an alley crop design. I am more concerned about the pasture part of the silvopasture design. But yes, excellent suggestion, especially since I want to try a few 'dry feet' trees.

BA,

I don't think salts are an issue. I think it is years and years of fine clay particulate that has created a hard pan. Also, it was pointed out by a family member that because of the creek; the cows on the land tend to concentrate on only 3/4 of the pasture. I think it is being over grazed which makes the pasture look so poor. The other side of the creek where the cows rarely are, look to be in good shape. I am hoping to get a soil sample before it is all said and done. Thank you both for your thoughts.
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1356
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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If it works for trees it will work for grasses. It might be used as a winter/emergency area. Maybe it has to be harvested as hay, maybe use sheep.

You might also have to cut your stocking rate for a few months until the pasture improves, you get the perfect seed mix for your system.
 
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