S. Judd

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since Aug 01, 2012
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Recent posts by S. Judd

There is now a possibility of some parts of the course being video taped, but probably not Joel Salatin, whose lectures are his system yield. What would you most like to see, and where would you like to be able to see it?

Suvia
Palouse Permaculture
5 years ago
I wonder what videos people like to use to introduce other people to permaculture. I have invited some intelligent scientist types to speak at our animals in permaculture course (see Rockies forum,) and while they agreed to speak, all they know about permaculture is what I told them over the phone. Ideas?

Suvia at Palouse Permaculture
5 years ago
thanks Neil,
not too long winded, in fact, very helpful. I found particularly helpful your explanation that ponds and diversion drains are the more effective way of actually moving water to the ridges, rather than the plowing, which mainly just holds it longer. (This is different from what I have read.) Also it is good to be reminded that the underlying goal of keyline plowing is building soil and restoring system function.

I might contact David Ronniger and see if he has done any keyline plowing in Idaho as far south as Latah Co. Our soils are very different from further north.
6 years ago
Owen, I forgot to say I did understand what you said about spacing the plow shanks more widely in wet heavy soils. The thing is, what about if you can plow without triggering a slump, but the collected water causes a slump in another season? As for how deep the soils are above the "greasy" water layer, it varies, but can be at least 2 feet or more. Evidently the grass roots on the CRP lands don't provide enough binding power.
6 years ago
I have a second question for Owen and Neil:

As I understand it, keyline plowing's main application is in pastures and grazing lands. What about crop lands? It does not seem as if one could cultivate even shallowly over a keylined area. I have thought strip cropping might work, with cultivation in bands between keyline plowed areas. Or, I have heard that some people in Australia are experimenting with over seeding (no-till planting) on pastures. What's your take on this?
6 years ago
Owen, thanks for your reply to my question about whether there are soils or types of terrain where keyline plowing would not be good. I think I need to clarify a bit because it sounds as if the details about our region my have confused the issue.

There are certainly wetlands in our region, but the slumps/landslides that happen in the spring are happening on the sides or tops of slopes, usually at a convex breakpoint (where the upper part is shallowly sloped and the lower part is steeper.) A common location is at the tops of road cuts, even where the road cut is vegetated. The field above has no living plant roots; it has been plowed and sown with wheat in the fall. The clay loam soils collect and hold a lot of water in the winter. (If you walk in a wet but unfrozen wheat field you will bring back a lot of the field on your boots.) With the spring rains and snow melt large areas just seem to loosen up. You can't call them wetlands, they are upland, often convex in shape, and will dry hard (under prevailing ag. practices) as the summer goes on.

We don't have a problem with slumps on our property; our property is in pasture, fruit trees, shade trees, and gardens. But we wondered whether even in our pasture keyline plowing might cause a water build up that would cause the ground to slough away in the spring. Also, I have a fantasy of getting a keyline plowing demo to happen in our region, and getting the NRCS involved. I don't want set out to try and lead a bunch of farmers in what turns out to be a wrong direction. Incidentally, some of the slumps that occur around here actually happen on CRP lands that are planted to grass (usually wheatgrass.) (The native ecosystem would have had shrubs and forbs in the mix, and therefore a bigger mix of root types.)

So, perhaps can you just answer this generically: Are there types of soils, kinds of terrain, or regions of the world, where keyline plowing is not applicable or a just plain bad idea?

Suvia in the Palouse
6 years ago
Dale,
I thought your question about correcting/removing tiling was a great one. They do tiling here in North Idaho too, which seems crazy since it is a dryland ecosystem. I guess the idea is to make the low areas as dry as the hillsides.... (Maybe having holistic management goals might help people think this through.)

Owen and Neil, I want to repeat my earlier question more concisely: Are there soils, terrains or regions where keyline plowing would be a bad idea, or require special adaptations? Where I live in the Idaho Palouse the clay loam soils get very wet in the winter, and are prone to slumping in the spring. Would keylining increase the water build up and increase the likelihood of slumping, or would it better distribute the water and reduce the risk of slumping, or...?

Thanks,
Suvia
6 years ago
Here is a question for Owen and Neil.

Are there types of soil or kinds of terrain where keyline plowing is not suitable, or requires special adaptions?

I live in the Idaho Palouse. Our soil is a clay loam called loess. The land form is hilly dunes. The large scale farming is mostly dryland wheat. Hedgerows are now absent, and road edges are typically brush hogged and herbicided, so where occasional ponderosa pines, aspens, cottonwoods, and a praire steppe grass and shrub ecosystem once thrived, with wild rose, ocean spray, ninebark, snowberry, etc., now there is often not much. Even the poor cow parsley gets sprayed.

In late winter and early spring there typically appear slumps in the land, most often on the road edges, often where a field has been cultivated right to the brow of a hill above a road cut. A piece of ground will slide down the hill, often blocking the road, and sit there till the highway district hauls it away, or spreads it out along the downhill creek edge.

The topsoil (what remains after years of bad practices) and subsoil seem to slide slanty-sideways on seasonal springs of water which run out over the hard clay beneath. It''s like a layer cake with a too soft filling.

it seem obvious that one would never want to plow (or make a swale) on contour in these conditions, even if ones own location was better vegetated than average. Is keyline slowing still appropriate for our region? Should one make adjustments in the degree off contour one plows, or the depth of the cut, or the distance between cuts (or dug swales)? Other comments?

S. Judd
6 years ago