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pigs sealing ponds

 
Jim Argeropoulos
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I've not read Sepp's ideas on pigs sealing ponds and Sepp's use of an excavator bucket to reproduce the results. I've only listened to Paul talk about it and Sepp's brief video blurb.

I have never heard anyone say why it works. My theory is that the soil is stirred up which causes the clay particles to go into suspension and settle at the end. This puts a layer of clay on the top of the soil, sealing the pond. The same thing that happens in a shake test when checking if you have clay for cob.

Am I correct?
 
Willy Kerlang
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There is a natural phenomenon by which a mixture of particles, when agitated, will naturally settle out according to size, with the largest at the top and the smallest at the bottom.  You can demonstrate this yourself, or at the very least you can do this experiment in your head. 

If you get a large container of some sort and add a bucketful of BBs, a bucketful of marbles, and a bucketfull of baseballs in no particular order, and then shake it back and forth, the baseballs will eventually rise to the top, the marbles will settle in the middle, and the BBs will form a discrete layer at the bottom.  Soil does the same thing, except instead of you shaking it back and forth the pigs are churning everything up.  When the smallest particles, which are clay, form their layer at the bottom, it's tight enough to keep water in.
 
chip sanft
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Most things I've read refer to about this process refer to "gley" as a part of how it works. Gley was discussed in this thread: <http://www.permies.com/permaculture-forums/3409_0/permaculture/gley-technique-for-sealing-ponds-and-dams-and-walls> and elsewhere. There are also some pages on the net with pictures etc.
 
Willy Kerlang
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I read about gley in that thread before, and it sounds rather complicated, with the potential for lots of things to go wrong.  If you don't cover each layer properly then it seems like there could be some issues with raw manure or raw compost floating around in the water.  What makes me further suspicious of this method is the need to add lots of material.  Sepp does it without adding a thing (except pigs). 

Also, not to be argumentative, but Mr. Argeropoulos and I are actually saying opposite things.  I'm saying the clay settles on the bottom layer, while he's theorizing that it settles at the top.  The laws governing the settling of particles are very well known and easily demonstrated.  If you think about it, you will realize that larger particles have more spaces between them, so eventually smaller particles will slip through and descend until they can't go any further.  I am trying to find a video I've seen before that demonstrates this principle but I can't seem to find it right now.  I'll post it when I do.
 
Willy Kerlang
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Found it on wiki thanks to a friend.  It's called granular convection:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Granular_convection

You can also observe the same phenomenon in a box of certain kinds of cereal, or in potato chips come to think of it--the biggest ones are always at the top, while the crumbs are at the bottom.  The same thing happens to soil particles when they are shaken long enough.
 
Anna Carter
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Location: Lacey, Wa
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Ah, but when items are suspended in water, it happens differently. This is in fact the basis for an easy soil test, one we did in my college soil ecology class. You take a handful of your soil, put it in a jar with water, and shake it up. The first things to settle will be pebbles, followed by sand, followed by silt, followed by clay, which takes a very long time to settle out, followed by organic material which takes a super long time to settle out. Here's a website; description is at bottom.

http://www.rain.org/global-garden/soil-types-and-testing.htm

O'course, I haven't actually read about the pond thing yet, but depending on whether water is present when the settling/agitation is occurring- I'm going to go look at vid now.
 
Suzy Bean
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A 17 min podcast: Paul does Q & A with a group after watching sepp holzer's "Aquaculture." He talks about sealing ponds: http://www.richsoil.com/permaculture/?s=sepp+holzer+film+discussion+2
 
M Johnson
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I haven't got to see the video yet, but I have personal experience with this.

I have a pond up top, then a smaller pond down below that always dried up, had a tree right next to it.

I put pigs in there and they went to town, getting into the small pond and tramping down around the edges etc.

It now has held water ever since (6+ months).

I think it has to do with them compacting the soil at the edge where the leak was, effectively sealing it. But I'm interested in what the video says.

But here's to real life experience- it worked for me!
 
Michael Newby
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I know that this is an older thread but I noticed that the word 'pond' has an auto-link to this thread.

Here's my personal success story with using pigs to seal soil that I never thought I would seal without a liner.

Anyone else have any personal experiences we could link to this page?
 
Eric Hammond
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I ran three red wattle pigs in a part time pond that always had water in it till august when the weather turned hot and dry. The pond held more water then it ever had. Once the pigs were sold and removed from the area, the water level went right back to where it was before the pigs. The pond only held water while the pigs were present. Perhaps ducks may have worked better...
 
Steve Farmer
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Its not just the trampling effect, it's the pig shit that has superfine particles that seal leaks
 
Marco Banks
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Michael Newby wrote:I know that this is an older thread but I noticed that the word 'pond' has an auto-link to this thread.

Here's my personal success story with using pigs to seal soil that I never thought I would seal without a liner.

Anyone else have any personal experiences we could link to this page?


^^^^^This!^^^^^

I've been following Michael's pond-building thread now for years. Amazing. His use of pigs (and later ducks) to seal a pond in what looked like a gravel pit is simply amazing. He's my hero.
 
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