Designing a swale system for this....flat desert

Discussion in 'Designing, building, making and powering your life' started by MelMel8318, Nov 28, 2011.

  1. MelMel8318

    MelMel8318 Junior Member

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    So here is the land I have my heart set on. As you can see, flatter than Kansas.

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    Any suggestions for water catchment/swales? So much of what I read deals with on-contour work. What if the land has no contour? I know I need to create some, but I'm not sure how.

    Anyone else work with completely flat land?

    BTW, the land is 10 acres which I believe is roughly 4 hectares.
     
  2. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day MelMel8318

    The 'search facility' (top, right-hand corner) revealed this thread on the same topic.

    Cheerio, Markos
     
  3. purecajn

    purecajn Junior Member

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    Is there any pitch whatsoever? Otherwise I'd start by channeling the complete outer parameter forcing all water on the property too remain on the property. Then figure what plants are wanted, placement then irragate by directing said water too concentrate on these desired points. The Mayan Floating Gardens may be of interest in this area. Even a underground water catchment
     
  4. MelMel8318

    MelMel8318 Junior Member

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    Here's what I do know about the land.

    The water table is about 30ft down -- approx 9 meters
    If there is a slope it is from the North West -- that's where the nearest wash is and it flows toward this property -- flash floods not a real threat as it sits higher than the wash
    The winds are from the South West
    It is on the 44th 45th parallel line, actually just south of the 45th by about 20 miles.
    It has roughly 11" of rain/snow per year -- roughly 29 cm/year

    Putting a ditch completely around the propertly will at least tell me where the low side is :)
     
  5. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Keyline Transformation

    Take a look at this video - stick with it past the science / maths and see how Keyline worked for their desert.
     
  6. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    Good suggestion and great video. Keyline all the way, increase the infiltration over the entire area.
     
  7. purecajn

    purecajn Junior Member

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    "Putting a ditch completely around the propertly will at least tell me where the low side is" yer, but so will a 2dollar string level with a bit of twine and for a lot less time and energy to boot.
     
  8. barefootrim

    barefootrim Junior Member

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    Dear Mel Mel,

    this looks like a very interesting project.

    no land is ever flat,, even if it looks flat , I bet your bottom dollar you have a slope of some kind on that land, even if gradient is 1 foot : 1/2 mile , you still have a workable slope to do stuff with.


    also,,, you'd definitely have a few basins in different spots (mini gilgai's) to work with.

    you have a wash , you say,,, so do this sort of thing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nppkp6YFC1k ,,,or this,,, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlyPYE8BY5Q&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL

    I'm not really into swales, as in many climates / conditions they are a type 1 error,,, but at the your landscape little ones would work well.

    To find out about your topography, you either have to survey the joint (yourself or pay someone), or sit with beers during a rain event and watch,,, if you take the beer option you'll miss a big rain event which isnt good,,,,as your first goal in that type of landscape would be to harvest every drop of moisture that falls on the place.

    All the best
    Barefootrim
     
  9. mischief

    mischief Senior Member

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    What a fasinating project!!
    Cant wait to see what you do with this.
     
  10. MelMel8318

    MelMel8318 Junior Member

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    Yeah but the string won't hold the water on the property :p

    I will definately be spending some time on the property just observing. I plan on walking it several more times looking for animal sign and signs of waterflow. There are foot hills within 25 miles so there has to be slope. I just need to spend some time getting to know it.

    Am getting ready to watch the videos right now. Thanks for the feedback.
     
  11. MelMel8318

    MelMel8318 Junior Member

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    oooooooh! Mel LIKEY a lot! Went out and did some research on keyline, I think I like it better that swales for the land, but I will need to spend a lot of time out there before I make my plans. I do like the idea of a lot of smaller lines than several large ones.
     
  12. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    Wondering whether you could contact them directly Mel to see if there are more details since your 'flatness' is so similar.

    Take a look at the Keyline Super Plow too, attempting to do everything in one pass with a tractor.
     
  13. macousin

    macousin Junior Member

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    Hi Melmel,

    You might find the following book useful: Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond (volumes 1 and 2 in particular) by Brad Lancaster.

    Good luck

    Marc-Antoine
     
  14. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    Have you looked at Google Earth? You will be able to see the bigger picture of the geography around you, and perhaps some run-off lines that head in your direction.

    You're probably also going to want some windbreak trees?
     
  15. TheDirtSurgeon

    TheDirtSurgeon Junior Member

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    As flat as it looks, I'd wager you have 2-3 feet of elevation change on the property.

    In my opinion, it's easier to work than a piece with more contour. You don't have to work as hard, or move as much dirt, to keep your rain.

    One possibility not yet mentioned... use a motor grader to create a series of shallow circular depressions, perhaps 60' in diameter and one foot deep. Plant trees at the center of the bowls.

    One inch of rainfall on a 60' circle... with an area of 2,800 sf... will establish trees in a hurry.
     

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