• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Question I've always had about Keyline  RSS feed

 
Luke Groce
Posts: 49
Location: Louisville, KY
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have always been curious about something that i think I've heard Darren reference in a few places: the parallel lines below or above the original just off-contour line in keyline design:

What if the land has ripples, depressions, gullies, or other forms? it seems like if they are big enough phenomena, it would potentially prevent the water from continuing to move to the ridge, and it would spill out of the furrow. It also seems like fudging the lines to compensate for this would be quite difficult, unless you know how to drive a tractor a lot better than i do.

Forgive me if there's something basic I'm missing here.

And thanks again for taking questions. Currently farming is kicking my ass. But I'm really hoping i have some more time this week to inundate you with many more, as I've found your work and teaching to be really inspirational and thought provoking.
 
Darren J Doherty
author
Posts: 33
Location: Bendigo Region, Victoria, Australia
14
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for this question Luke,

As I've been saying all of this week, the most important thing in soil/water management is to have a soil that accepts water across 100% of its surface 100% of the time. Using a chisel or subsoiler will obviously get that happening immediately. If you are a livestock producer (and ideally every production landscape manager would be in my opinion), then Holistic Management Planned Grazing will be the primary agent to managing the soil surface. Otherwise we have found a flail mower to be the most effective 'mechanical mouth'.

Now with non-inversion ploughing specifically and the micro-relief that is so common, I would just ignore these micro patterns and follow the general landscape pattern that exists. For example we have a lot of country here in central Victoria, and I've seen it all over the world, which has had surface drainage work done or has been in raised mound orchards, both of which are perpendicular to the slope. We just ignore these in Keyline Pattern Cultivation. If I had 0.5 acre of this kind of landscape then I'd consider doing radical earthworks to correct this surface relief, however on larger landscapes you are just going to have to live with it unless you want to splash some cash discing and planing. We've done this a few times and its a big treatment, but it did come out better in the end of that there is no doubt, but at a cost.

One remedy of course is to place some widely-spaced Keyline-oriented berms (raised-beds) or just planted strips, such that you can for all time 'tie' the landscape to the Keyline Pattern. These strips will not only redirect all traffic, but they will also force any cultivation to be oriented in this way as well, and if this happens to be inversion cultivation then you will see a smoothing of the landscape.

Cheers and all the best with what you are doing, Darren
 
Luke Groce
Posts: 49
Location: Louisville, KY
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks Darren. That was helpful. couple follow ups:

When you say that inversion cultivation will create a smoothing of the landscape, do you mean that by applying tillage/plowing in between the permanent, just off-contour strips of plantings there will become a terracing effect of some sort, to some degree in between the berms?

And also, when you talk about these berms, whether tilling or planting between them, it does sound like a Mark Shepard type system. One thing that myself and some of my friends wonder about, with regards to his system, as described in his book, is the distance between these key line oriented tree strips: if grazing in between, and wanting to have a net-positive effect on year-round grass growth in a non-brittle (Kentucky, 35 inches with summer droughts sometimes) environment, what kind of spacing do you think might be appropriate between these planted berms? To give you a reference point for where my thinking is, the only specific I can find in his book talks about 23' spacings. But I have some friends nearby who have, or are about to, put in systems more along the 100 ft spacing range. I'm inclined to go with my friends, but I'm curious what your thoughts would be. I imagine that "it depends" will be a big part of your answer. But I'm curious if you would care to offer any specifics, or a range of possible options.
 
Darren J Doherty
author
Posts: 33
Location: Bendigo Region, Victoria, Australia
14
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks Luke,

Any inversion cultivation that you conduct there will be a degree of soil movement, particularly if you haven't subsoiled as well. And so yes if this was done on contour or using keyline patterns some 'terracing' could happen.

As for what Mark Shepard does, his system is typically of a much closer tree/shrub row spacing that what we recommend if we are to crop in between. Refer to the 'Question for Darren: subsoil on contour?' thread I just completed here on Keyline patterns and what Mark and others appear to do as their own self-styled version of what they call Keyline and I would not.

Personally I'm with you in going with the 100' spacings too. Better light penetration, and more flexibility, much less cost, easier to manage with fencing and so on...

Thanks, Darren
 
Everybody's invited. Except this tiny ad:
2017 permaculture design course & alternative technology course - live streaming kickstarter
https://permies.com/t/65247/permaculture-design/permaculture-design-alternative-technology-live
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!