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Aquaculture, making use of water

 
                            
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I'm enthralled by the Sepp/Aquaculture video and would love to hear more about establishing a series of ponds similar to Sepps.

Did I understand right that all of his ponds are connected?
I'm super impressed that he is able to use the water as an electricity production source... especially when he didn't have any available water on the land when he first purchased it!

Does anyone have any thoughts about how to set up a series of ponds similiar to Sepps?

I didn't understand when he is talking about the placement of the ponds and how the help warm the areas near them. I guess what I'm asking is.. what is the best way to select ideal areas for ponds?

I love all of the diversity of critters he has living in his ponds. Has anyone established a "self fed/maintained" pond? How did you go about adding in critters, did you start with vegetation? What came next?

Oh my.. I see a heavy equipment purchase looming in my future!
 
                            
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Location: New Zealand
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My understanding of the near pond microclimate, as more or less as follows

The water is a great source of thermal inertia, that is it prodives a colling influence when the temprature is hotter than the water, and a warming influence when the temprature is lower than the water. When the water is warming the air, it is also humidifying the air.

The trees of the shelter belts around the ponds and the next-to-pond beds prevents or reduces the effect of wind cooling the water via accelerated evaporation ( less cool dry air, less water loss and less heat loss)

The border of stones ( the darker the better), around the ponds, and in the middle of the gardens, absorbs heat from sunlight, and transfers that heat via contact into either the water, or the soil in the plant beds.

the result is a clearing that will resist frosting for longer.

atleast this is my understanding of the mechanics

it's not just the ponds, its the interaction between the ponds and the trees and the rocks
 
                            
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So would it be better to place a pond near the base of an embankment, or out in the middle of a flat area? Why? (sorry... these "new" ideas seem to have a tough time getting into my brain)

If the ground is sub irrigated, would that be a good place for a pond, or is that better left alone?

Does anyone have some really good online resources they can suggest?

 
                            
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Cool! Just found one of Paul's postings which helps me to understand a tiny bit more about how the ponds are connected together.

http://www.permies.com/permaculture-forums/1360_0/permaculture/sepp-holzer-on-ponds-and-quotthe-monkquot
 
                            
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Just rewatched one of the videos I could find and Sepp talks about putting his ponds close to the hillside.... guess I'm answering my own questions, very slowly.

 
                            
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Location: New Zealand
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I would suspect that where to place the ponds, and the shelter belts rather depends on where the prevaling wind comes from. You want to keep the wind off the water after all, because the wind will take the heat away.
Wind doesn't turn corners easily, so if it's likely to be coming from the direction of the hil, you want the pond as close as possible to the hill and something on the hill to 'delaminate' the airflow ( aka, make the air turn a corner, and it will spill and eddy and will take longer to sink)

 
                            
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That makes sense.
 
                            
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I took a bit of a drive yesterday, not far. I live in the mountains, went about 15 miles and just drove around on some plowed (snow) county and primitive access roads. Really paid attention to the land structure and where water had naturally accumulated. It was interesting to notice the shapes and contours of both the wet areas (under snow in most cases I was looking at plants to tell where the water sponge areas, or small ponds were) in relationship to the contours of the terrain.  I'm normally really bad about just seeing something and accepting that... it is. Without questioning why it is, or where it is, or why it is the shape it is, etc. Observing with an intentional awareness was interesting.  I had wondered about the shapes of some of Sepp's ponds, now suspect that the shapes weren't random, but that they were in response to the land contours.

My property has a lot in common with Sepps, when he first obtained it. It is one of the reasons that what Sepp has done intrigues me so much.

I do have two small springs on my property, both produce standing water (not enough to cause a stream). Historically, the upper spring was quite a good producer and provided water for several families on neighboring properties. The land/climate can be harsh and unforgiving. Those families are long gone. Unfortunately, someone on a property above me had a well drilled (non permitted) and it tapped into the water from my upper spring. Prior to that, I'm told and the landscape supports that the upper spring produced a very small stream that ran beyond the lower spring, then went below ground again. I've never used the water from my upper spring, so I don't know how quickly it replenishes. What I do know is that the water isn't as available as it used to be.

I have very diverse soil types on my property, pure granite sand, majority is sandy loam, one area of compacted soil which dries to a fine powdery dust (previous owners about 40 years ago raise quite a few pigs in that area), small areas of clay... etc. It is all on a granite mountain and there are many rocks and boulders as well as several areas with exposed rock and no soil at all over them. My meadow area which is between the two springs tends to be sub irrigated much of the year and the soil is quite rich there.

Because of the incline gradient of my property, it has tremendous potential for gravity feed water systems.  The obstacles in developing those are:
1) Funding
2) Equipment
3) Knowledge
4) Need to remain in compliance with my forest plan for my property.

As far as number 4, I can justify some changes in property structure as being more healthful for my forest and making it more productive. The state will tolerate some nonforest use, so long as the main use remains in timber. It was harvested about 10 years before I bought it, could use a bit of thinning, but unfortunately, doesn't have much marketable timber on it at this time. I'm looking for excuses, I mean rationales for modification of my property. (fire safety? Improved access?) My forest plan is already much more liberal than the average, allowing for significant diversification of species as well as browsing by the goatie girls. I need to be cautious in how I move ahead so that I don't make waves with the DNR or county.

Now accepting excuses...uh rationales.....for land modifications.

Yet another question, one of my first thoughts upon watching Sepp's videos was oh my, all that open water (evaporation potential). Some place along the line I was taught that water surface cover plants (lilies, hyacinths, etc depending on location) should be utilized as much as possible. With the system that Sepp has designed, is open water a better choice as far as hydrating the surrounding areas?

I'd like to develop an active plan for my property rather than just sitting back and passively following the timber plan.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to where to get some really well defined topographical maps or contour maps? The contours I have of my property are at 40 feet intervals and I'm thinking 20 feet intervals would be better for my purposes.
I'm in Washington state and have found a number of online map resources, just not as detailed as what I'd like.

 
Tyler Ludens
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Feral, have you got a soil survey map for your county?  Soil survey maps might have more details about contour and are certainly helpful for other information.

http://soils.usda.gov/survey/printed_surveys/state.asp?state=Washington&abbr=WA
 
Mekka Pakanohida
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Feral wrote:
I'm enthralled by the Sepp/Aquaculture video and would love to hear more about establishing a series of ponds similar to Sepps.

Did I understand right that all of his ponds are connected?
I'm super impressed that he is able to use the water as an electricity production source... especially when he didn't have any available water on the land when he first purchased it!

Does anyone have any thoughts about how to set up a series of ponds similiar to Sepps?

I didn't understand when he is talking about the placement of the ponds and how the help warm the areas near them. I guess what I'm asking is.. what is the best way to select ideal areas for ponds?

I love all of the diversity of critters he has living in his ponds. Has anyone established a "self fed/maintained" pond? How did you go about adding in critters, did you start with vegetation? What came next?

Oh my.. I see a heavy equipment purchase looming in my future!



http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=235437896615994763

sepp holzer movie about his Synergy of Land & Water.  Heavy equipment?  pfft, I use hand tools & a tiller at most,  no  other power equipment.  no compaction of my soil if I can help it.
 
                            
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Pakanohida wrote:
  Heavy equipment?  pfft, I use hand tools & a tiller at most,  no  other power equipment.  no compaction of my soil if I can help it.


I think your tool choice may depend on several factors:
1) personal preference
2) what you are starting with
3) what you hope to end up with
4) how you plan to use what you've got
5) available resources for getting the job done

Quite honestly, I don't have the physical strength or stamina to do even 1/10 of what I'd like to see done with this land without heavy equipment.


Could you take on a project like Sepps with hand tools? How would you move boulders, How would you remove trees, stumps? How about earth moving from one location to another?  If you started with what Sepp started with, what techniques would you use to increase the sustainable productivity of the land? I'm sure that there are techniques for  making these projects easier, but I'm clueless as to what they are.

I could make changes by hand (and actually have been for the last few years). The changes I have made are slow and small. In the meantime, I'm getting older and the life on my property is not flourishing up to it's potential. I could spend years removing trees, digging, relocating soil by hand and would end up old and grey (If I'm lucky!) with repetitive motion injuries, bone spurs and worn out joints from years of manual labor. I have a couple of other options... I can ignore my land and not do anything with it:that also means that with the exception of a timber crop in another couple of decades, I'm not getting anything out of it. The last option is that I could get enough money to have heavy equipment come in and in a few months accomplish what I couldn't by hand... and ideally improve the overall health and productivity of my land. My personal preference is strongly for option number three.



 
                            
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Ludi Ludi wrote:
Feral, have you got a soil survey map for your county?  Soil survey maps might have more details about contour and are certainly helpful for other information.

http://soils.usda.gov/survey/printed_surveys/state.asp?state=Washington&abbr=WA


I do now   Thank you very much! 
 
Tyler Ludens
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Feral wrote:


Oh my.. I see a heavy equipment purchase looming in my future!


Personally, I wouldn't.  Too expensive.  You can get a person who has experience using the equipment to do enormous amounts of work for you for the cost of the piece of equipment.  We could get 10 - 20 ponds dug for the cost of a small to mid-sized tractor with bucket.
 
                            
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I'll check into it again before I do anything. When I did cost analysis a few years ago before my life went wrong, it was more effective to purchase, but times have changed, so who knows. I do have a lot of projects which need to be done, I also have a winter road that is gnarly and I put several hundred if not a thousand bucks into each winter..... so depending on how wisely I make equipment choices it may be to my benefit to purchase. Guess that's the bottom line.. it depends. 

 
Tyler Ludens
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If you're going to use the equipment regularly for years it certainly might make sense to buy it. 

 
                      
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Feral wrote:
I'll check into it again before I do anything. When I did cost analysis a few years ago before my life went wrong, it was more effective to purchase, but times have changed, so who knows. I do have a lot of projects which need to be done, I also have a winter road that is gnarly and I put several hundred if not a thousand bucks into each winter..... so depending on how wisely I make equipment choices it may be to my benefit to purchase. Guess that's the bottom line.. it depends. 




Amen! If you have a continued need for the equipment, them buy it.

Be sure to scale your purchase to your project size. I'm sure I could dig a pond with the dirt scoop on my 9n, but it would take forever. Or I could call up some people with equipment, and have one in a day or two. It's impressive to see what a good operator can do with a full sized dozer!

If you take the pond construction out of your equipment requirement, and focus on what type of machine may be best suited to maintain your property after the pond and other work is done, then you may be able to scale back your investment. Maybe consider planning your pond, and  hiring a few days out to a really skilled operator, then focus on the fine finish work with your equipment. That way, maybe a good tractor with a front end loader and box blade would be all you'd need.

When I think of serious equipment, I just start thinking about the average maintenance costs......not to mention if it needs work. Big equipment can mean some big prices when it come to replacement parts and filters and such.
 
                            
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Excellent advice. Thank you.
 
paul wheaton
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Here's a document that may be of some use:

ftp://ftp-fc.sc.egov.usda.gov/WHMI/WEB/pdf/TechnicalLeaflets/FarmPond.pdf

Check out table #2, it lists all of the pond building assistance programs. You can get government cost sharing programs, payments for maintaining a conservation pond, etc. I remember hearing that my great grand Father built our pond during the dust bowl, and the government picked up almost all of the cost. It was such a good deal, especially because he kept hogs and wanted to have a nice big water source.

Here's another good soils map resource:

http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/app/HomePage.htm

I used to use a similar program to pull soils data for a farm management firm, and it is handy. County soils maps are great, but this lets you define your exact property line and gives you a percentage breakdown of your ground into the respective soils. It's a solid resource.
 
Abe Henderson
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Feral,

I'm curious about your general whereabouts...I am in Spokane and am in the process of buying thirty acres to the north from a family member that is very similar to how you describe your property (minus the trees--due to previous wildfire).  I've been thinking about the potential for ponds as well and I would be very curious to hear where your research leads you.

Cheers,

Abe
 
                            
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Abe Henderson wrote:
Feral,

I'm curious about your general whereabouts...I am in Spokane and am in the process of buying thirty acres to the north from a family member that is very similar to how you describe your property (minus the trees--due to previous wildfire).  I've been thinking about the potential for ponds as well and I would be very curious to hear where your research leads you.

Cheers,

Abe




I think that anyone can be tracked down these days if someone is so inclined to do it. With google earth, it's easy to take a look at where others live (yup, I confess... I've taken a look at Sepp's property). I have a friend who says "no sense in making it easy", but the difference between easy and not possible is usually a couple of hours at the keyboard, or a few phone calls away in our high tech society.

I'm in Ferry County, near Wauconda pass. I'm in the wet part of the county, so my property is treed, parts are steeply sloped, other parts benched.
 
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