Water Ponding/Management/keyline

FranksFarm at aol.com FranksFarm at aol.com
Thu Dec 27 07:17:27 EST 2001

Good day,

First let me add a prayer for our Australian friends that may be affected by 
those Sydney Bush fire. 

And thanks John for the further clarifications.

I sure do like your idea of a Keyline/PC Conference on my farm. I think it 
would spark a great deal of energy. Any one interested in teaching or 

Sorry, I was not as clear in my initial posts. Indeed I was talking about 
forested hillsides.

<<In general I would avoid soil disturbance in forested areas (especially
subsoil ripping!  :-o  ...but also most anything that messes up your
natural forest soil/duff/fungi/etc.>>

 Whew!  Good thing you mentioned that...I was more than a little concerned 
about the difficulty in the soils that exist.

I spend a good deal of time in the woods when I can.And try to observe as 
much as I can. It's really fascinating. And winter is a great time to observe.

For the most part I try NOT to disturb natural order of things. There's lots 
of duff, downed trees /limbs throughout the forest, which was probably logged 
over 15 years ago.

Down here in KY beech apparently doesn't PAY it's way out of the woods. So I 
have a number of huge beech trees throughout the forest. Some are hollow, 
some den trees...and some are solid. The beech trees are also very well 
adapted, and produce lots of offspring. The problem is these beech can over 
time choke out more desirable trees. Some huge beech can dominate/shade out 
over a half acre of ground or some I'm told.

In order to improve the selection of hard wood trees, and release more 
desirable species the state forester has advised me to take down a lot of the 
large beeches.

Anyone know of good uses for beech, markets other than pallet wood? Here's 
prices for pallet wood have really dropped to less than 15 cents a foot.

The drains of which I spoke seem to arise in low spots between adjacent hills 
or in the saddles between hills on the high ridges. Much of the times these 
drains are empty but when it rains heavily or often can really carry water 
away swiftly. This is somewhat mitigated by downed trees/obstacles that cause 
water to carve out new channels, or create boggy areas on lower grounds. Thus 
I have too much water in some areas, and not enough in others. According to 
my understanding of PC I should try to spread that water out more evenly keep 
it on the land longer.

One of my concerns is if I'm successful how will that affect areas that have 
adapted to excess waters?

<<Implementing keyline strategies addresses both of these extremes - less
trouble with excess precipitation and more water in soil and ponds,
etc. in droughty times.>>

Yup...that's the nub:)

<<Are some of these side ridges, so to speak, from other ridges? >> 
Hmmm...here in southern KY we have lots of hills and hollows that run up and 
down and join others. Many ridges are not very long. On my property I have 
one very long ridge and far more that are fairly short with other hills (more 
like steep points or knobs) that fall off to hollows at base of adjacent 

So there are lots of hills and hollows in my woods. Thus most of the 
drainage's eventually collect in the hollows and then are either led into 
carved out channels, or create boggy/muddy areas in any low spots in the low 
land pastures. It is the latter situation I'm trying to address. I'd like to 
both capture, and spread out the water in keyline ponds, furrows? , Etc. 

Wild grapevines seem to be especially well adapted when left alone. Problem 
is they get into canopy, bind other trees together and in high winds can 
actually help bring down huge trees, and others in their path. OTH they 
probably help to stabilize the slopes.
I've decided to cut as many of them as I can. many trees are also covered by 
hairy vines like poison oak, or poison ivy that can grow quite thick 
too...causing similar problems.

Hills on my place are fairly uniform that is they descend from top to bottom 
with little interruption. Generally tops are quite steep, and gradually 
decline as hills broaden. Occasionally there are ledges or benches that go 
round the hill near the midway point. Some of these are probably natural 
others may have been cut out by loggers.

Most of the hollows, and there are quite a few on my farm are steep and deep. 
So water will collect in them no matter what. Since I believe in working with 
nature I often wonder whether trying to modify such may create other problems 
I'm not aware of down the road.

I hope these descriptions give enough detail.

I think all this water is a bounty that needs to be better used but am not 
sure how best to accomplish that.

Look forward to more discussion...Darren, Ken, Larry , etc. I would love to 
have your comments. Perhaps someone could then synthesize the consensus 
solutions in a FAQ that could be useful to others; to help them implement PC 

Best to all in 2002.  Frank

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