Generally, in permaculture we do the Earthworks first, if possible, then build your plant systems. That way the hydrological cycle and the natural needs of the plants merge so that you get a better ecological feedback.
My topography would benefit from keylines or swales but im not sure how necessary it would be and that is something that can also always be done after establishing pasture species?
You are very right, Johnny. And you may be wise to do just that. I would just suggest that you walk the field areas and see where you might want your swales, and other earthworks and then figure out if you want to have specific access points, so that you are driving into the fields at the same places, and driving in the same places on the fields, thus minimizing impact on the greater field/concentrating the compaction on places that will be designated as access paths.
another suggested practice in permaculture is also sitting back for a couple years, if one can help it, and doing what I feel we all lack in more than anything else- observing. I would like to make minimal major impact in the first years and watch the property.
So long as it fits your final design idea in the first place. :) More often than not, things will change/evolve over time anyway, but it's nice to have a game plan to focus on, and have an idea what might not be the best strategy so that you are not having too many regrets from making poor decisions.
I suppose there is no right or wrong way to go about it here.
That depends on your rainfall ratio to your evaporation, and how deep your plants roots can get in a growing season.
I am also ~30 feet to the water table at the highest point on the property which makes me wonder just how much of an impact water management systems will have.
It's not hypocritical. What you are doing is your business and the order is not as important as the thought process (design process) that ensures that you have the house in the best possible place considering sun exposure to your sunward wall, water getting to the house for drinking and cleaning and fire protection, water shedding off the house and catchment/diversion strategies, wind direction bringing cold against your windows or against your doorways, wind potentially bringing fire towards your house, access to roads for ease of (short distance of) plowing, etc... you get my thinking... ?! so, when you consider all the variables in the first place and balance one aspect to another and come up with the best location, then... you have the best location. It's as simple (or as complicated) as that. :)
I must admit that I am but a hypocrite. I speak of not doing any "large earth work projects" for the first years yet I plan to build a strawbale house on the property next year. Different kind of earthwork but you get my drift. With that said the access points will be established to some extent.
Very noble of you.
In time this property is going to act as the platform for a non-profit with the goal of feeding the highest quality produce at no cost to under served impoverished Minneapolis(and other surrounding areas) families.
Sorry, I'm out of the loop. I wasn't aware of this aberrant alfalfa. Perhaps this is what I have at my place. I know the local Mennonites are not averse to planting whatever gets them the biggest bang for the buck. I'll have to ask them what seed they use. Could be my field has alfalfa seeded from their fields. I don't have much alfalfa and my field is mostly grasses but has quite a mix. I didn't plant anything; it was feral a long time since it was planted.
My only fear with planting alfalfa is the cross-pollination with GM alfalfa as I know there are GM alfalfa fields all around my area.
While I understand where you are going with those thoughts, Chris, I tend to think in ways that nature tends to work with genes in relation to how laboratory genetic company does. They are, in my opinion, not at all similar, and are not simply a matter of a relationship of time, as you are indicating. Upon looking into such manipulated alfalfa a bit, I found that what they do is force ecoli and soil bacteria into the cell's internal structure, directly effecting it's genetics. This sort of thing doesn't happen in nature, and so it is highly improbable that such a combination would ever occur in nature in any amount of time, or that if it did it would be unlikely to find success enough to spread over tens of thousands of acres.
meaning that there's nothing inherently bad about manipulating genetics that way. Some people don't agree, and argue that we can't know because nature never did it that way, and my response is that's okay, because nature did the same thing, but slower.
True; theoretically. In fact, I can't see how it would be effected in the least if there is no seed. The problem is that grazing does not necessarily eliminate seeding, and chopping or mob grazing would have to be done when the flowers start in order to eliminate the possibility that cut or trampled plants would not continue to bolt to seed from flower (which I've seen in other species, like thistles). Either of those techniques would boost alfalfa's nitrogen release in the soil, but would have to be done at least twice in a season to ensure that no seeds were produced, particularly with more mature plants with deep established roots. Regardless, there is no saying that birds are not going to bring seed from those big ag fields anyway.
Correct me if I am wrong, but no seed means no transmission of GMO modification, right?