I'm in the process of purchasing this land (50 acres) pictured below and am trying to plan out some swales so I can get right to work come spring (I wont be able to close until winter sets in due to the town taking their time with a subdivide).
Property details: The green lines mark the property outline and the orange roughly mark the contours in 10ft increments. The road frontage is on the southern edge of the property and the landscape slopes away from the road to the north. The grade varies from ~10% in the eastern corner to a more constant 2-5% elsewhere. The earth has about 1-1.5 ft of topsoil before giving way to some clay in the areas I've taken a spade to. It's covered with immature hardwoods and some hemlock and pines in the more green portions of the picture.
My goal is to grow mostly woody crops like apple, plum, pear, apricot, mulberry, seaberry, hazelnuts, walnuts, chestnuts, etc. accompanied by other understory companions where applicable. I feel like carving on contour swales into the landscape could be beneficial though maybe not essential as the land seems fairly moist already and it's mid September. I will eventually raise small livestock (sheep and/or goats) so I'd like to plan grazing into my swale positioning as well.
I'm wondering if swales would be the most beneficial/economical way to improve upon the fertility of the property. If I were to go with swales, would I need to have large spacing between my tree rows to account for the shadows of the more southern rows? Essentially, I'm a complete novice to producing food outside of a typical household garden and am in need of some more educated input. I'm open to any and all advice this wonderful community has to offer. If you need any more info on my behalf, just ask and I'll deliver. Thank you in advance!
Surfs up space ponies, I'm making gravy without this lumpy, tiny ad: