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Keyline, pioneer species, tap root and tree spades

 
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Hello,
First and foremost, I wish you a happy new year!
I'm thinking something up and would like some input from you amazing people.

In keyline design, Mr Yeomans speaks about planting a 10 to 20 m strip of trees on the keyline, on contour and in other places.

In the landscape where we live now, in Eastern Ethiopia, the trees are scattered across the landscape and I'd like to strategically position them for maximum use.

In my mind, the best would be to move them to the keyline or parallel to it rather than anything else, maybe as part of a swale or not...

Moving trees is a story in and of itself. Looking around I see tree spades, the biggest ones will go down 5 feet, or about 1,5 meters with a width of 9 feet, close to 3 meters.

My assumption is that these pioneer tree species have deep roots that allow them to withhold long periods of drought.

Will I compromise these trees by moving them?

Does anyone have experience with moving trees with tap roots? Will the root system go down again, or remain in that 5 feet cut?

Any thoughts or experience on this in general? More context, the idea of moving the trees would be to plant pastures... I want to keep trees, but put them in strategic locations on the landscape.

Thank you,
Benjamin
 
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Howdy Benjamin, sounds like you are talking about a "Savanna".  I would be worried that I would kill more trees by trying to move them. I think I would try to improve the absorption of water into the soil using a Keyline plow, do you have one of those available? Or by building swales on contour as long as they do not harm any of the existing tree roots. Then plant new young trees in the soil around the swales or key lines.  Hopefully increasing the total number of trees in your savanna without harming those that are already established.
 
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Location: Fraser River Headwaters, Zone3, Lat: 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
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HI Benjamin,

Happy New Years to you as well.  

I've changed your forum settings out of Cascadia (which is what we call the area near the Cascade Mountains in the N.W. USA and South Western extremity of my province in Canada.  I've placed your thread in the Africa forum, but also in the permaculture, and greening the desert.  Even though your situation meets more of the definition of Savannah as Miles points out, the people who are attracted to greening of the desert threads are more likely to view this thread and give you quality advice.

Attempting to transplant existing larger trees as you suggest is unlikely to get you very far.    

I agree with the advice of Miles.  You are also correct in thinking that it is not wise to disturb the deep rooted existing trees; they will likely not appreciate it, and will likely not be able to grow another tap root, and if they do, it is not likely that they will be able to do so to the point that it would be sufficient to ensure drought tolerance to an already large existing tree.  If you are going to uproot or dig up any trees for transplanting, be sure to do so from very young trees, as well as from areas which have an abundance.

Another method that you might consider is pitting the land.  There are many methods that can be used to pit the soil, and the pits can be varying in size.  The purpose is to provide micro-climate areas which you can place seeds.  The pits also serve as a place where windblown dust and seeds can accumulate, thus increasing the fertility and depth of soil on your land.  If you are able to, put the excavated material on the down slope side of the pit.  This makes a mini swale out of this micro site.  You can do lines of these, roughly on the contour, between existing trees.  

By leaving all the trees on the land, you give micro climates for further enhancements.  If it is at all possible to do your pasturage around your trees instead of removing them, then you will gain much from their presence, and you can use each existing tree as a site for further ecosystem development.  If some of the trees between your swales are in the way with your main project, you can always allow your pasture animals to over-browse them and remove them later for firewood; but I would do whatever I could to keep the trees in your system if I was in your situation.  They are your tap to water your region.  

Beyond this, sometimes in your climate the area has been overgrazed, and some of the trees have been so heavily browsed that they look like they are dead stumps.  But if a person relieves the area of grazing pressure, the over-browsed stumps send up new shoots.  Protect these, and use a knife to select the best of the shoots from each stump.  The method is best described in the idea of Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration
 .  This method can also be used after you establish some young deep rooted pioneer trees.

A good thing to do, would be to establish a nursery of deep rooted pioneer trees in pots in a prime location.  When you get some of these potted plants ready to go, then you wait for the perfect time, immediately before, during, or immediately after your rains.  And get them into pits that you mulch as heavily as you can, and make these on contour between your existing trees.  

Also, if you have more information about your water flows, wind flows, and slope of your land, this will help people make better contributions/advice to your thread.    

Please post more about your projects here, and also check out our Africa forum and Greening the desert forum.  You will find much valuable information in these.  Great to have you posting your questions.  Hopefully we will get more people involved in your thread.   Good luck.  

 
Roberto pokachinni
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Here is another FMNR link  ~>  About all of the FMNR projects.
 
Benjamin Sellé
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Hello,
Roberto, thank you so much for introducing me to the Africa and greening the desert groups! I didn't know there were sub groups. Thank you so much... A whole new world opened!

For a bit of background, we just moved to Ethiopia and we are looking at buying a piece of desert to turn it back to what it can be. I am still looking at machinery and things we would need, thus the question about the trees. I feel also that if we can develop a tool that can transplant pioneer species, this could be a fantastic tool for the region... Just by moving trees to create strips on contour could flood proof and seriously limit run off in our region... I'm just dreaming out loud... I'm speaking with a tree spade company to see if they could develop a tree spade that would be thiner but deeper, potentially 3 meters deep, so that we can get a large part of the tap root.

Coming back down, we are looking at needs and tools and budget. We don't have a piece of land yet. The legal framework here is quite an interesting one...

Miles: Yes, I'm not sure it's a Savannah, maybe it has the potential to be so, but it's mostly sandy soil, if not sand. There are thorny trees across the landscape. I share that fear that if I try moving trees they will die and if they don't die, they'll need to be watered, which is not the objective either, one doesn't want to water pioneer species (at least I don't)...

My issue with the trees is that they are all over the place. Anything on contour will hit trees... Maybe I could decide where I want to do contour stuff, then move trees just accordingly. I hear you on the pasture under the trees. I'm just concerned with practicalities of keyline plowing and seeding if too many trees...

Roberto, pitting sounds like a good idea, local harvesting as opposed to large moving of a lot of trees and soil... To chew on a bit...
You are right that where we live overgrazing is a major issue. This refers me back to the Savanah issue, I don't know what the land would look like with no grazing and thus no run off. As we speak, rain just runs off taking all organic matter to dry river beds that fill for a few hours and the goodness goes who knows where at high speed... I'd like to think a mix of perennial grasses will thrive with the water being able to remain in the landscape and a bit of irrigation and thus create the pre-mentioned savannah.
Roberto, again, you are right, deep rooted nursery is a must. For sure.

Thank you guys so much for your valuable inputs. As we, and if we are able to move forward with this, I would love to share more and pick our collective brain!
Much love,
Benjamin
 
Roberto pokachinni
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You might want to try to transplant a three meter long tap root and see if it's effective before you invest in designing and creating machinery.  I have high doubts whether this will be worth your energy on tap rooted trees.  I think that you will be far better off investing those same economic resources and time into a nursery of locally adapted deep rooting nitrogen fixing and fruit and nut bearing species.  The use of certain grass type plants will be very necessary in your process as well.  Chrysopogon zizanioides, commonly known as vetiver is a perennial bunchgrass of the Poaceae family, native to India, which is used permaculturally in erosion control/soil stabilization.

Swales do not have to be continuous to be effective, and Keylines do not have to be 100% accurate to have a great effect.  You may be able to work within the landscape's given plants and still incorporate these design styles. But that may mean that you rethink your tools to the much smaller scale.  If you are really wanting to use large machines and do massive hardscaping (large scale earth moving) work, then there are likely regions in Ethiopia which do not have the shrub and tree layer that is as dense as the area that you are presently viewing.

If you have erosion channels, and you have dead brush you can make brush 'dams' across the channel in many places and these will catch sediment and slow the flow.

Have you seen Geoff Lawton's greening of the desert series:  You will like this  



On this site, near the top there is a search function as well.  I think it is not working right now, but try it some other time to look up what you need.  :)
 
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