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Keyline practical design exercise

 
Posts: 88
Location: Castelo Branco, Portugal
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Hi guys,

i have a 7 ha farm in the south of Portugal, after a year and half of learning i decided to establish an orchard in a Keyline pattern. I am not paying a keyline specialist to do the design as 1) i don't have the money 2) i like to understand things and do them myself.

My 7 ha farm is divided by a road and right now i am trying to understand and design on the "easiest" landscape, the top half.

I understand all the theory in Keyline, read the books, articles and saw the youtube videos the same as you, but putting that in a practical exercise is becoming frustrating.
As you can see in the photo, the parallel lines below the keyline of the valley are easy to understand and draw, but i am not getting the ridge part. Eventually the parallell lines that start on the ridge will go lower on the valleys than the ridges, so i am making a mistake but i am not getting which one.

Have you guys designed a keyline pattern in your own place?

Check out the topographic map and help me understand what i am doing wrong.



IMG_20150411_150401.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20150411_150401.jpg]
 
steward
Posts: 4618
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Howdy Andre, I might need a little more info.

For me it is hard to look at a topo map without elevations listed. I cannot tell which is the ridge and which is the valley on your map.
Is the valley where you have drawn the pointed blue-ish lines?

What is your goal here? Keyline plowing to help water soak in, Swales to capture and move water, any keyline dams/ponds?

One of the things about keyline design is being able to move water from the valley to the ridges. Is that what you are asking about?

If you follow a contour line from a ridge to a valley it does not really go lower in elevation. If I dig a swale along the contour the water that fills that swale will fill it on a level untill it reaches a spillway that is designed to be lower than the rest of the swale. So if water runs down a valley and hits the "dam" of a swale it will fill the swale and move along the same elevation out to the ridge. If you then put a spillway at the top of the ridge the water will run down the ridge back to the valley, watering much more land. In theory you could make a swale that is on the same elevation line for miles and miles that would spread water all along it.

Am I on the right track here?
 
Posts: 529
Location: North-Central Idaho, 4100 ft elev., 24 in precip
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My understanding is that once you get to the ridge point on the keyline design you would basically end that keyline and start over again in the next valley and meet somewhere near the same spot as you come up out of that valley to the same ridge point. Sorry if that doesn't make sense, but essentially each valley would have to be laid out separately and then plowed in order to maintain the drainage from the valleys to the ridges. That's my take anyhow...also I'm not an expert so take it with a grain of salt.
 
Velho Barbudo
Posts: 88
Location: Castelo Branco, Portugal
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Miles and Dave, thank you for the input.

Miles, i am sorry for the lapse, yes, the pointed blueish lines are the parallel lines in the valley under the keyline.
I am going to plant an orchard on keyline pattern, meaning that each line of trees will be equidistant between them and those lines will not be on contour. I am still considering using a ripper to plow or doing a ditch and berm system.

After a year and half of experience on the farm ( in the past was heavily pastured) i can still see ridge areas without any kind of vegetation and the valley areas completely wet during the rainy season, so the infiltration is not balanced.

If you follow a contour line from a ridge to a valley it does not really go lower in elevation. If I dig a swale along the contour the water that fills that swale will fill it on a level untill it reaches a spillway that is designed to be lower than the rest of the swale. So if water runs down a valley and hits the "dam" of a swale it will fill the swale and move along the same elevation out to the ridge.


Agree.
But on a keyline pattern, the end of the ridge is on a lower altitude than the apex of the same line on the valley so that the rain infiltrates exactly where it falls, right?

So on one of the very few documents that explain the technik in practice, Abe Collins & Darren J. Doherty explain that

Cultivate parallel and upward from any selected contour line on the ridges. When there is no Keyline to work from (lower in the valleys, or on ridges) use contour guidelines to cultivate parallel to (upward from on ridges, downward from in valleys.)

and again

In practice, one would lay out the Keyline across the primary valley, then carry that contour line out onto and around both ridges, then cultivate upward from that in long plough passes. You would then plough downward from that line,restricting yourself to the valley shape. (The ridges would be ploughed parallel and upward from a lower contour guideline.



But when i follow those guidelines it just doesn't match, once the ridge parallel lines cross the valley above the keyline those parallel lines will go higher in altitude rather than lower, that is, the ridge end point is on a higher altitude than the apex on the valley. So i am wondering if what we should have is four different patterns:
1- On the valley under the keyline;
2- On the valley above the keyline;
3- On the right ridge;
4- On the left ridge.

Inputs?
 
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