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keyline in sandy soil

 
                        
Posts: 57
Location: Northern Rockies
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Does anyone have experience with keyline irrigation in sandy soil?  Does it work?  Related question:  what types of soil was Yeoman dealing with?  Thanks for any insight!
 
gardener
Posts: 1948
Location: PNW Oregon
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Nope, no experience, but I would think that it is going to depend on your soil in particular - -  Know how your water comes - fast or slow, observing how the water moves on your land right now, and such.

Here is a pdf on how water moves through soil which might help http://cals.arizona.edu/pubs/water/az9516.pdf

I'm sure others will add their own experiences and knowledge here real soon.

Great question Rickster . . . .
 
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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would think that the way to make it work would be to add a lot of humus to the soil to act like a sponge and hold the moisture..
 
                        
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Location: Northern Rockies
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@Brenda, I'm thinking humus might be helpful but highly labor intensive -- as costly (labor) as digging the keyline ditch. 

Likewise, I wonder how keyline would work in a silty loam.

I suppose I should go check into Yeoman's website and see if I can learn what soil types we was working with.
 
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                                                                                                                07/02/2010 PM
To: Permaculture Forum
From: Royal A. Purdy, A. H. Tuttle and Company
Re: keyline in sandy soil 

Rickster, Paul and Folks,

Yes, of course “Keyline” works in sandy soils – it works in every soil type; let’s think about this, ..to say otherwise would be to deny evolution of soils in a (or any) particular area. Bare soil will “evolve” to establish grasses, forbs, etc. to the limiting factor of the immediate strata – environment involved. Keyline is an excellent management application (irrigation) method in most areas involving grass plains or pastures; …it accelerates the natural process. Anywhere there is a sod - SOM (Soil Organic Matter) to establish (and later sacrifice a small portion), Keyline will work. A percentage “clay” will help in this regard but is not strictly necessary; neither is the build-out of Keyline fixtures such as ponds, collection and distribution channels, etc. as these are simply designed for and added to a site to present water in a timely – predictable manner; if nature provides timely rains, you may choose to postpone or otherwise get by without the expense of earthworks for a time.

I just sold a Mennonite client friend a Yeomans Plow for his sandy soils in the upper (New York State) – Adirondacks; his is very pleased with the quick results and with addressing a hard pan problem.


Be safe.

Sincerely

Royal A. Purdy
Clear Choice © - Elysian ©; Yeomans Plow Dealer, Sales and Service
A. H. Tuttle and Company
1007 County Road 8
Farmington, NY.  14425
www.ahtuttle.com
www.clearchoicepastures.blogspot.com
rapurdy@ahtuttle.com
(315)-986-7007
Skype = clearchoiceelysian


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pollinator
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Location: Oakland, CA
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I skipped over Yeomans' discussions of sandy soil, because it seems unlikely * that I'll use that information firsthand *, but his irrigation ditches were maintained with vegetation. I think a more rapid cycle of irrigation and grazing within the ditches would be the least expensive/laborious way to add humus to them, and slow the passage of water through the bottom.

If there's some clay component to your soil, you might want to watch Sepp Holzer talk about sealing ponds:

video Paul took

My commentary

It might be worthwhile to saturate & tamp the soil before excavating the main channels, washing the fine components of your soil down through to form a less-permeable layer.

* Edited to clarify my intent
 
                        
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Location: Northern Rockies
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Yes, I've been rethinking through the question and realized that seepage would decrease as silts and organics build up.  I need to reread Yeoman when time permits.
 
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