[permaculture] Drainage

Steve Bonney steve at sustainableearth.net
Sun Jan 1 16:14:28 EST 2012

On 12/31/2011 12:43 PM, John D'hondt wrote:

"We have seen cloud and mist for weeks now and so much rain that much of the land is so
soft you sink in to the edge of the wellies."

John et. al.

 From November to April, I have waded in mud up to my wellies for the 11 years I have been on my farm. Even though I have silt loam on high sloping ground, it is very poorly drained. At a depth of 20 inches, the soil is mottled yellow and blue clay without any sign of life. Water must move laterally for drainage. After much thought I have finally started to install drainage. I have dug a few main channels with my backhoe and buried slotted drain pipe. I do not like to use plastic on my farm so I will purchase a used trencher and cut channels 6 inches wide and 30 inches deep. In these I will put 6 inches of crushed limestone before filling with soil. This will result in a network of channels flowing into main drains. I will concentrate the flow through a series of small constructed ponds where I will grow aquatic plants (watercress, algae, etc.) Overflow water will be channeled to my farm pond for retention.

Most of the motivation for doing this is that I am establishing an apple orchard of heritage apples (culinary, multipurpose and cider varieties).  I have been building berms for the trees to keep their feet out of water. This is a pain in the butt to manage, so the drainage will allow me to continue orchard expansion on flat ground.

Will those with experiences of soil drainage in wet climates please share those experiences, observations and advice.

Indiana USA

Steve Bonney
Sustainable Earth
a 501(c)3 not-for-profit membership organization
to promote sustainable farming and food systems

More information about the permaculture mailing list