Dryland permaculture

Discussion in 'Designing, building, making and powering your life' started by Serina81, Jun 28, 2009.

  1. Serina81

    Serina81 New Member

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    I live in a desert where we get 1.3 inches of rain a year on average. The land is almost perfectly flat with a tiny slope. I have a 40 acre farm and I want to use the little bit of water we get as efficiently as possible. I'm just getting into the whole permaculture philosophy and I was wondering if anyone has any advice. I do own water rights so I can irrigate, but again, I'd like to use water conservatively and take advantage of the few resources the desert provides.

    Serina
     
  2. kimbo.parker

    kimbo.parker Junior Member

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    Re: Dryland permaculture

    hello, I get 350 mm / year,
    you get 1.5 " about - mmm 25mm/inch- crikey! - not enough to settle the dust. Not enough for a lizard to drink.

    I call my place "Desert On Hold", we catch, store and distribute our water.
    We use our abundant slope, contours, drains, dams, leaky dams, soaks,tanks,pumps and poly. We control the entire catchment area of our water, we are high in the landscape....and I thought we had it hard, untill I read your post.

    I take my dripping hat off to you, because as I type it is fairly pissing down. About 70mm for June after a late start.

    A person can get passionate about water harvesting when there is some water to harvest :wink:

    Personally I am reluctant to loose even urine from my 'sytem'. It is saved and re-cycled. Food gardens are stacked containers (sinks are good), which receive irrigation from above the top level, draining and irrigating on the way down, with that water caught in a reservoir for recycle. Add top up water into the system, provide some aquaculture for filtration and fertilization and we have something you can fall in love with...a custom designed, personal, dynamic functioning sustainable system. A virtual model of nature, a work of art akin to sculpture.

    Where I'm from Dryland permaculture is 300mm rain / year - where do you get your water to live?- you mentioned water rights.
    regards, Kimbo
     
  3. Burra Maluca

    Burra Maluca Junior Member

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  4. Serina81

    Serina81 New Member

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    Re: Dryland permaculture

    The greening the desert video is what got me interested in permaculture. I looked at that and thought wow, maybe we could do something here about our problem.

    Our 25mm of rain is DEFINITELY not enough to even settle the dust. It's horribly dusty here. You dust and an hour later you need to dust again. To top it all off we have really bad winds that pick up all that dust and blow it to the next state. You can't see to drive. And don't even get me started on the tumble weeds the size of elephants.

    Believe it or not, where I live is called Lucerne Valley because it's a big lucerne/alfalfa farming community. The water we have comes from a huge underground river. You go deep enough and there's plenty of water, it just never hits the surface. Because this is southern california and there's so many people, the cities all have to get water from other places including the desert. Decades ago we used to have a huge river that went through the next valley over. It's now bone dry except when it rains because the cities pump the water out of it before it ever reaches us. I would guess we used to have more rainfall when the river went through the area. Anyhow, the farmers all have a certain amount of legal right to water. If you don't have these water 'rights', you have to pay out the wazoo to pump water out of the ground to irrigate. If you do have water rights, it's free...as long as you follow a million rules like only pumping a certain amount per day and between certain hours and only 75% of the water you rightfully own. Yes, I said it. You purchase rights to water and only are allowed to use 75% of what you purchased. And if you don't use all of that 75% then the state takes away what you didn't use and you never get it back, because afterall if you didn't use it you must not need it right? Not very encouraging to the whole permaculture water conservation idea. I haven't decided how I'm going to handle that situation. If I do start conserving water and I don't need to use all of my water rights then I'm going to lose them. A lot of farmers just pump the extra water into the desert and waste it so they don't lose their rights.

    My hope with permaculture is that I can use irrigation to create a self-sustaining environment that eventually doesn't need to be irrigated. If I can get trees established with all the swales and such then hopefully they can continue to survive without continuing to use excessive amounts of water.

    The other problem we have here in the desert is huge amounts of salt. The water in the northern side of the valley is so salty that people have to have water trucked in. My understanding is that the salt is moving down the valley towards the southern side which means that eventually the 40 acres I have will be worthless. That was what really caught my attention with the greening the desert video. Geoff Lawton managed to desalt the land he had in Jordan.
     
  5. nate_taylor

    nate_taylor Junior Member

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    Re: Dryland permaculture

    Hey Kimbo do you have pics? :D
     
  6. kimbo.parker

    kimbo.parker Junior Member

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    Re: Dryland permaculture-Pics for Nate :)...and so much more:)

    hello Nate
    Pics I Have, getting the suckers up on this site is another matter.

    Mate, you don't need a picture of three sinks one above the other with a bucket under the bottom, use your immagination :wink:

    Nate, mate this is your lucky day :D Because you were good enough to enquire I am going to share with you my amazing new invention. Understand that you will be the second person ( for posterity ) who learns of this. I shit you not. :D

    Before I go into 'details' Nate, I want you to know that I've 'sat on' this baby for some period not knowing how to broach the matter. This is big. I don't think this Permaculture Forum is worthy but there is something about your picture which says 'trust this person' :lol:

    By way of further pre amble; I seek out systems of abundance and try to 'align myself with them'., to whit 'piss'. When you start pissing in containers and transferring it to larger containers you soon become in touch with how much 'piss' a family produces.
    I have unfettered access to a rubbish dump ( I'm spoilt ), and I'm in an agricultural area that produces a lot of plastic 20 lt containers, the sort of thing Roundup and a variety of less noxious stuff comes in. Additionally I get loads of Hessian sacks, the piggery's dump them (meat-meal).
    An abundance of piss, containers, and sacks.

    In the wake of the bushfire disasters of last summer, I present to you, exclusively.....'The Mohamed',,,,,ta da!

    The mohamed is one of those containers (20 lt) filled to the brim with piss and the lid closed tight. The mohamed is topped with a hessian sack.
    Now one mohamed is not much use on its own, but that's good because we have need of plenty.

    The mohameds are placed side by side in lines, against buildings. One sack strides 3 mohameds.
    They are a ground defence against fire.
    An individual mohamed is 'activated' when its turban burns, thus melting the container, thus discharging the 20 litres of stored piss extinguishing the fire.
    And here is the rip; each mohamed can extinguish more than that which activiated it. The combined discharge of say 5 activated mohameds is 100 litres.

    100 litres of pure fire extingushing power. :D
    It is with humility that I claim this baby as my own 8) .
    Nate, you're welcome. :lol:
    regards,Kimbo
     
  7. nate_taylor

    nate_taylor Junior Member

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    Re: Dryland permaculture

    thanks for the tip, Kimbo.
     
  8. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    Re: Dryland permaculture

    Think of the regrowth after the fire! Good stacking of functions, Kimbo! :lol:
     
  9. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    Re: Dryland permaculture

    You probably are already using mulch covering the soil to conserve water. It is the next most important step in keeping the water in the soil once you've got it there. And keep it thick, 6 inches maintained, not fluffy. I also accidentally found that putting a synthetic knitted shade cloth under the mulch held even more water in the soil. Cover crops are nice, but they use that water, so I think it's more efficient to get mulch from somewhere else, with a separate water source.
     
  10. Alex M

    Alex M Junior Member

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    Re: Dryland permaculture

    Sarina, Pigface (Ice plant) is a hardy and useful plant. You might find you can use it as a pioneer to hold onto what remains of your soil, and help stabilize and build your soil humidity.

    Some links:
    https://www.apstas.com/iceplants.html
    https://www.tasfieldnats.org.au/TasNatAr ... Watson.pdf

    If you think it's worth a go, you shouldn't find it too hard to get your hands on some samples; I believe it's used extensively along the side of Califorian freeways.

    Are you catching the rain water from your roof? 33mm of rain on 100 m/sq of roof will net 3300 litres of water, which isn't much for year's catchment, but every bit helps.

    Good luck, and please keep us posted. I'm sure you can make a go of it.
     
  11. ho-hum

    ho-hum New Member

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    Re: Dryland permaculture

    sarina,

    Plough your spare land with a 'divet' plough. Like a huge cylinder with buckets on it. It will put divets across your landscape.
    This will concentrate your seed and catch any water that falls and basically force it into the soil profile. You can only do this on the dry bits, anything that is salt affected needs differing strategies like buckwheat or surprisingly lucerne..:)

    Do a google on 'land rehabilitation' there are various designs for ploughs on there and you may find one locally that can be hired. This is a one-off operation and invaluable on dry flat land. It will ease erosions issues and work towards solving them.

    The big issue you probably face is non-wetting super dry soils with sporadic rainfall. There are ways around this.

    Cheers,
    ho-hum
     
  12. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    Re: Dryland permaculture

    ho hum, that's interesting about lucerne near salt. Is that because it's tolerant?

    Here's a study that says it increases water use: https://www.regional.org.au/au/asa/2001/4/a/latta.htm

    Sounds like it would dry out the soil more than clover or vetch?

    I like the idea of a divot plough. A lot of the no-till people are using them to make planting holes and crush cover crops that become mulch. Lots of interesting styles:

    https://www.rodaleinstitute.org/no-till_revolution
     

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