Quick question. If I want to put in a stock pond in a draw (small valley), should I *not* keeling plow above it? All the land has been overgrazed and is terribly compacted so I *want* to key line plow it, but I think doing so will prevent the ponds from filling. Would you agree?
I attended an "open gate" event at Circle Ranch in Van Horn, TX, Circle Ranch TX a few weeks ago and the owner stated that many of their tanks/ponds were no longer getting enough water to fill up after the land above them was keyline ripped. He did not regret that however because the water is much more valuable in the ground up high in the land form. As the grasses respond and the hydrology of your soil begins to improve a plume of moisture should begin to form under the grasses which will slowly move down slope in the land form.
Also, remember that not all rains come equally. What I mean is every year you will get rains that come faster than your soil can take it in -- so you will have run off. That surplus water is what your tank/ponds can catch and retain. What I am saying is with keyline ripping it might take longer to get a "permanent water level" pond than otherwise, but I don't think you have to look at it as an EITHER -- OR situation.
Thanks very much, Kevin. That does help. Thanks too for the link. Looks like some good reading there. Our place is not that dry so we may get sufficient water in the ponds even with key lining. I can't WAIT to try this. After 75+ years of set-stock grazing, this land needs some TLC. I look forward to having one of those photo journals. Already took the "before" pictures just this week.
Location: West Texas - near Big Bend National Park
The best way to build ponds and then fill them is by restructuring the flow of water so it runs along the key-line and finds its way to the pond slowly.
Ripping the ground up actually will not do what you want in the end (loose soil that is friable) as well as planting things like winter cereal rye, winter barley, winter wheat and yellow, red, crimson clovers.
Allowing these to grow to maturity will not only loosen the soil, they will also add carbon and nitrogen to it, making the process far less work and without the dangers of erosion.
when the tall, straw producing cereals have headed out, press them down so the clovers can take over and add nitrogen, when those are fully grown, turn the whole lot under and plant food crop plants.
Soil building is something that takes time, just like restoring land does. When you want to restore land start with managing the water and the last thing to do is build the soil. Trees are a good second step.
For the purpose of restoring the land, the quick and dirty (easy) methods are not usually the best methods.
I have seen many people go this route only to find out they have locked themselves into a system very similar to "Big Ag" techniques.
Try a few small areas and then decide which way you want to restore the land.