Swales and planting vs cutting for meadows vs both and more

Discussion in 'The big picture' started by Sologretto, Jun 16, 2015.

  1. Sologretto

    Sologretto New Member

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    I have been a long time reader. I live in a mountainous high desert. I had been assuming that our regional water care would be best served by lots of small scale water capturing via gabions, swales and small dams with healthy vegetation planted along it to minimize wind and sun evaporation.

    Or valleys are generally filled with sagebrush and our mountains with conifers. The higher you go there more trees in the mix.

    Today I ran across this https://m.kvpr.org/?utm_referrer=https://m.facebook.com/#mobile/49251

    The man claims the tribes used to improve the hydrology by clearing Meadows and thinning trees.

    Most of the systems I've seen related to the permaculture institute projects seen to advocate for high density planting to maximize use of land, resources and companion support. The idea that in a larger eco-system you may want to limit growth to ground cover in some areas to minimize water use seems both obvious and in opposition to the systems people seem to prefer here.

    I'm sure the dissonance is only in my own head, but the confusion is there for me. If we are thinking on a larger scale what does everybody consider a healthy balance?
     
  2. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    I'm going to be blunt; He is wrong.

    Cool soil, water level rises, warm soil, water level drops. This is a simple concept known by forest wardens of old Europe for hundreds of years. Swales on contour, gabbions, etc is a lot wiser.

    In fact, you should check out www.geofflawton.com he has a movie called, An Oasis in the American Desert
     
  3. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    I'm wondering whether their practice has to do with reduction of transpiration by reducing the conifers (https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1436&context=agronomyfacpub)? Trees transpire more than grasses/meadows (as evidenced by mainly grassland/shrub-steppe in areas where evapo-transpiration exceeds precipitation).
    Also, in following the article, the conifers hold snow above the ground level which would increase sublimination in low humidity whereas letting what snow falls accumulate on the ground would maximize infiltration of melt.
     
  4. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    Reducing the numbers of small conifers does three things; it reduces water loss through transpiration by the small trees, it reduces water loss due to the small trees sucking it up to grow, it opens the understory so snow fall can actually make it to the ground and so soak into the soil and filter down. This allows grasses to grow as well which holds the soil in place far better than tree roots, it also holds snow in place so it can melt and sink into the soil.

    Here in Arkansas, the governments practice of stop ever forest fire fast has resulted in such thick understory growth as to make the hard wood forests hard to navigate both for animals and humans. The areas where they have started "controlled burn policies" show a remarkable turn around, where the soil was once always dry, it is now damp, as most forest floors should be. The lakes in these areas fill from rains and they hold on to their water longer than the lakes in the areas they have left with choking understory.

    On my homestead, there is a lot of understory which I plan to remove so the larger trees can thrive. I've noticed in the two years of ownership that some of my larger trees were dying, which should not be happening but is because of the dense understory. Arkansas woods were open base forests back 150 years ago and that is what I am trying to bring Buzzard's Roost back to. As we make progress in restoring the forest we live in, more animals come in, dormant grasses sprout and provide food for these animals, the water runoff problems are lessening as well, all from just getting rid of what should not be there.
     

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