[permaculture] Suitablility of clay for building ponds

Robyn Francis erda at nor.com.au
Wed May 6 03:50:08 EDT 2009


The term is Gleying (pronounced gleeing). Gleying usually involves putting
down a layer of straw, covering that with a 2-3 inch layer of FRESH manure
(pig or cow works best) cover that with another layer of straw or grass
clippings covered with a 4" layer of soil. Leave for 2 weeks for anaerobic
processes (the tricky thing is to not have any water the fill the pond, i.e.
No rain for the 2 week fermentation). After the 2 weeks the pond must be
filled (you need a source of water for this and be careful the layer doesn't
get washed or fractured in the process) and the weight of the water
compresses the anaerobic layer to seal the pond. I don't know many
successful cases of gleying, and you can imagine its quite a process and a
lot of materials and work.
Animal compaction is a different process. Basically ponds need a compacted
surface to hold water and animals can be used to compact the pond. Most
ideal are pigs or sheep. In natural systems wallowing animals create
permanent ponds. As well as pigs and buffalo, elephants are also famous for
creating ponds.
Robyn

On 6/05/09 9:15 AM, "paul wheaton" <paul at richsoil.com> wrote:

> My impression is that the use of organic matter to seal a pond is
> called "glie".  My impression is that it usually moldy hay or cow
> manure that is used.
> 
> Running pigs in a pond area is, I'm pretty sure, a different matter.
> The pigs would be run in the drained pond, and the combination of
> their rooting and the shape of their hooves would remove (or raise)
> organic matter and pack the undersoil, just right.
> 
> On Tue, May 5, 2009 at 2:26 PM, Dick Pierce <dickpiercedesigns at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> Is the answer - "gleying or glaying" (sp?) the pond? Manure, particularly
>> pig manure as I recall, is a good pond liner/sealer. Again my recall is to
>> dig the hole, let the pigs poop in it, and let them wallow in it - pressing
>> and troweling the manure into the soil (assume clay).
>> 
>> I lived for a time in Boulder, CO, USA and was fascinated in a chain of
>> small lakes - a couple were Boulder's water supply - that were referred to
>> as "Buffalo Wallows." They are on the start of the Prairie, just east of the
>> last of the Rockies where a lot of mountain melt water flowed onto the
>> plains. As the ponds dried up after the spring melt, the Buffalo would
>> wallow, and I assume poop liberally, in the mud. Over time/decades/centuries
>> these became very tight ponds. As I recall, much of the prairie in the area
>> was quite sandy, so the Buffalo and their poop did a great job.
>> 
>> On Tue, May 5, 2009 at 6:57 AM, christopher nesbitt <
>> christopher.nesbitt at mmrfbz.org> wrote:
>> 
>>> The term for biological barriers is "gley"ing the pod.
>>> 
>>> http://resources.alibaba.com/topic/41782/How_to_create_a_pond_with_gley.htm
>>> On May 5, 2009, at 4:57 AM, Dieter Brand wrote:
>>> 
>>>> My soil is about 2 to 3 feet of yellow clay mixed with stones on top
>>>> of a thin layer of grey clay which is formed on top of the rock
>>>> bed.  Sorry, don't know the technical names for these types of clay.
>>>> 
>>>> Anyway, the yellow clay will dry out slowly during the dry season
>>>> through capillary action, surface evaporation and plant
>>>> transpiration.  However, some of the humidity in the yellow clay
>>>> layer will slowly percolate down the hillsides through water lines
>>>> on top of the grey clay which is 100 % water-impermeable and which
>>>> therefore doesn¹t let through any water.
>>>> 
>>>> I made a number of water catchments by excavating the soil down to
>>>> the grey clay and by using some of the grey clay to form a barrier
>>>> downstream.  This forms a catchment hole fed by waterlines from
>>>> upstream that doesn¹t let through a single drop of water
>>>> downstream.  I lined the catchment holes with large stones to
>>>> prevent the grey clay from washing out and to prevent the water from
>>>> getting cloudy.  The position of the intake tube assures that the
>>>> water in the catchment hole is always at a certain level so that
>>>> there is no risk of cracking in the clay when it gets dry.  Except
>>>> for the tubing, I only use materials found on-site.
>>>> 
>>>> Upstream of the water catchment, I made a large hole which I filled
>>>> with coarse sand, pebbles, small and large stones to filter the
>>>> water before it goes into the catchment.  We have a lot of white
>>>> quartz stones on our land which are ideal for that purpose.  I
>>>> planted different types of plants into this natural filter so that
>>>> the roots spreading between the sand, pebbles and stones may take up
>>>> impurities in the water.  I cover the catchment holes to prevent
>>>> evaporation during the summer.
>>>> 
>>>> The algae, frogs etc. in the water catchments provide a biological
>>>> environment that is beneficial for the garden soil which I irrigate
>>>> with that water.  With a daily flow-through of a few thousand liters
>>>> in winter and a few hundred liters in summer, I'm not unduly worried
>>>> about nasty things that may develop in stagnant water.
>>>> 
>>>> What do you mean by a ³two acre foot pond²?  Is that a pond of two
>>>> acres surface area with a depth of one foot?  That wouldn¹t be of
>>>> much use in my opinion.  It would be like a paddy field which you
>>>> can do when you have more than enough water anyways.
>>>> 
>>>> Dieter Brand
>>>> Portugal
>>>> 
>>>> PS:  In France and some of the other Celtic regions they used a
>>>> technique for making a pond impermeable by a microbial layer made
>>>> from organic materials.  I can¹t remember the name (that¹s what old
>>>> age does to you ;-)) nor how exactly this organic layer is formed
>>>> (perhaps by compressing manure and straw???).  I never used it
>>>> because it can only work if the pond is permanently filled with
>>>> water.  In severe arid conditions, as here in the Saouth of
>>>> Portugal, the water level in ponds or artificial laces can fall by
>>>> several inches per day for 6 or more months of dry season with high
>>>> temps.  If I can remember what the technique is called I will let
>>>> you know.  But perhaps someone else can chip in here.
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> --- On Mon, 5/4/09, Gene Monaco <efmonaco at comcast.net> wrote:
>>>> 
>>>> From: Gene Monaco <efmonaco at comcast.net>
>>>> Subject: [permaculture] Suitablility of clay for building ponds
>>>> To: permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org
>>>> Date: Monday, May 4, 2009, 12:06 AM
>>>> 
>>>> I have a little background in this, and I am also trying to fix a
>>>> leaking
>>>> pond made by a predecessor.
>>>> The type of clay and how it is compacted is what it is all about.
>>>> Ideally, you can find clay that is a deposit from eroded volcanic
>>>> ash.  This
>>>> is very very fine and highly expansive.  Around here it is known as
>>>> montmorillonite.  Bentonite is a type of montmorillonite, and is
>>>> commonly
>>>> used in construction.
>>>> Modern methods sandwich about 5 or 6 mm (1/4") of bentonite between
>>>> two
>>>> sheets of something.  Earlier products used paper (like drywall) as
>>>> the
>>>> binder, but now they use geofabrics as well for the pond liners,
>>>> especially
>>>> for landfills.  They also sell bentonite pellets in 50 lb bags that
>>>> you can
>>>> till into the insitu soil if it is already clayey and dry enough to
>>>> till.
>>>> The liners are very effective but are expensive.  They are however
>>>> efficient
>>>> as far as the clay is concerned because the manufacturing process puts
>>>> precisely that 1/4" between the sandwich sheets.  If you try to till
>>>> it in
>>>> by hand or spread it out, you could never get 1/4" uniformly spread
>>>> out
>>>> over
>>>> the surface; rather, you have to put about a 2" layer down and then
>>>> till
>>>> it
>>>> in as best you can, or cover it with 18" of packed cover.
>>>> The key is that the expansive clay has to be contained by pressure
>>>> over it.
>>>> This means in practicality, that you have to over excavate the pond
>>>> 18" or
>>>> so, lay down the sheet (or till in the 2" layer) and then cover it
>>>> with
>>>> 18"
>>>> of overburden, preferably clay.  That way when it gets wet and
>>>> expands, it
>>>> will have nowhere to go and will form the seal you're trying to
>>>> achieve.
>>>> If you till it in to the top 6" without the overburden, you are taking
>>>> your
>>>> chances that when it expands it will lock into the surrounding
>>>> particles
>>>> instead of fluffing and allowing the water to run around it,
>>>> rendering it
>>>> useless.
>>>> The principles described here are applicable to any clay site.  You
>>>> need
>>>> something impervious enough and packed down enough under enough
>>>> pressure so
>>>> that when it expands, it won't fluff so much as to allow the water
>>>> to run
>>>> around (through) it.  So the type of clay and how it is installed is
>>>> everything.
>>>> 
>>>> One detail is at the top.  I've seen a number of ponds that held
>>>> water to
>>>> the design level at the beginning, but then dropped a foot or two or
>>>> more
>>>> after a few years.  This is because the clay at the edge is not
>>>> under the
>>>> weight of the water and tends to fluff.  Also, animals climb in and
>>>> out
>>>> right at the top edge and tear it up as well (especially true for EPDM
>>>> liners).  To deal with this, you need to run the clay seam back far
>>>> enough
>>>> outside the edge of the pond and pile up an 18" or 2' berm around the
>>>> edge,
>>>> plus add rocks for weight and protection from animals.
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> Gene
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> Date: Sat, 2 May 2009 12:47:26 -0700 (PDT)
>>>> From: Rain Tenaqiya <raincascadia at yahoo.com>
>>>> Subject: [permaculture] suitablility of clay for building ponds
>>>> To: permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org
>>>> Message-ID: <655408.34901.qm at web38107.mail.mud.yahoo.com>
>>>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1
>>>> 
>>>> I'm building a two acre foot pond to irrigate our permaculture
>>>> demonstration
>>>> site and I'm having difficulty identifying appropriate soil for
>>>> building
>>>> the
>>>> dam and lining the pond.? We have quite a mix of soils varying from
>>>> sandstone-derived loam to serpentine-derived clay.? Is the clay
>>>> content the
>>>> most important variable?? We have some very high clay content soil
>>>> that has
>>>> a crystal like structure when exposed.? It is very expansive, and
>>>> when dry,
>>>> it gets blocky and is easily broken up.? I think it would be fine
>>>> where it
>>>> will be under other layers or always wet.? Does anyone have any
>>>> answers or
>>>> comments on this?
>>>> ?
>>>> Thanks,
>>>> ?
>>>> Rain
>>>> 
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>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> 
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>>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> _____________________________
>>> Christopher Nesbitt
>>> 
>>> Maya Mountain Research Farm
>>> San Pedro Columbia, Toledo
>>> PO 153 Punta Gorda Town, Toledo
>>> BELIZE,
>>> Central America
>>> 
>>> www.mmrfbz.org
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
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>> 
>> 
>> --
>> DickPierceDesigns at gmail.com
>> SE-NE (summer) & Austin, TX (winter) cell- 512-992-8858
>> 
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