[permaculture] Drylands water capture question

Peter Suter peter.suter at activ8.net.au
Thu Apr 25 16:38:35 EDT 2013


Hi Koreen,
I'm in an area that is on its way to becoming a desert. North Central
Victoria, Australia. I've been experimenting with some of the dryland
techniques for about five years.

I've used a technique similar to your deep water pipe - agricultural pipe
under a small swale with a small dam at one end. It's all based on the
levels - The swale and pipe fills the dam; the dam fills the pipe; ground
runoff fills the dam. In the swale mound are mostly drought tolerant native
Acacia. They are growing so well that I don't have any hesitation in
attributing much to this technique.

I've also tried the vertical pipe in the post hole idea. Everything died.
I've tried the net-and-pan technique. It works well if the trees get big
before heavy rain. If the rain comes before the trees are up then many in
heavy clay areas drown.

Since you've identified a dry layer down to 6 inches, I'd love to see the
results from planting larger seedlings 6 inches lower than normal. i.e.
using that top 6 inches of soil as mulch.

Best Regards
Peter Suter

-----Original Message-----
From: permaculture-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:permaculture-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Koreen Brennan
Sent: Thursday, 25 April 2013 10:34 AM
To: permaculture
Subject: [permaculture] Drylands water capture question

We are being given 500 trees to plant at Pine Ridge reservation this year
and I'd like to experiment with some of them, using different drylands water
capture techniques and creating a space to  be a demo site. We have the room
on one of the sites we are working with. We've had a hard time working out
the funding and logistics to plant deep root plants like alfalfa and then
add trees so we're having to slam dunk the trees and somehow come up with
ways to loosen the soil and replicate a forest setting that is more
compatible with them. We're using mycorrhizae, compost tea, worm castings,
mulch, etc, to give them a good base. The soil is compacted clay/silt, the
wind gets pretty fierce sometimes and dries everything out (down to six
inches sometimes, pretty routine for the first few inches to be dried out by
wind), and we can go without rain for sometimes two months or more, and then
just get a little bit. Most of the rain/snow melt comes in the spring.
 The winter sometimes is pretty dry until late winter. Temperature extremes,
sometimes from day to day (below freezing one day, 85 degrees the next ,
from 110 to -30 F extreme). Rainstorms coming through sometimes miss us
totally, go to either side. So it is pretty hit or miss in the summer.The
wind blows mulch off site, hard to mulch the trees (so we are going to mulch
them under a layer of tamped down clay soil) The trees we're planting are
fairly tough (cottonwood, Ponderosa Pine, Rocky Mountain cedar), and are
native to the area except one (Tilia Americana). 

Has anybody planted linden (tilia) in drylands? It does grow up there, and I
planted some last year that is doing fine. I just don't know how much
water/care it needs compared to the natives. Does anybody know of a way to
preserve linden leaves or if they would have any nutrition value dried?  

I would love to hear from people who are planting trees in similar
environments and what your most successful actions have been. I'm a
semitropical girl and still learning this environment. I will credit you for
anything you share when I do my yearly write up. 

We are using several techniques from Brad Lancaster's book, and also a
technique I haven't heard of anyone using, but it makes sense to me. One of
the successful modes of irrigation up there is a deep water pipe - a
vertical 6 inch PVC pipe that has holes in it, stuck in the ground and
filled with water to release slowly, beneath the surface where it forces the
roots downward and where the soil can hold moisture better.  We can't afford
500 of these and plus we don't really want to put all that PVC in the
ground, so we're going to dig holes with post hole diggers and stuff them
with wood chips and sticks that we are getting from the fire department's
fire suppression brush clearance. We're thinking of ways we can mimic what
keyline does (we don't have funding for a plow), or a forest floor.
Hugulkulture of course - we will try that as one method. We don't have
enough logs to create hugulkulture mounds for 500 trees - that method is not
practical on any
 kind of scale there right now.  Maybe in 50 years after we plant thousands
of trees, lol. 

Anyone see anything I'm missing?

We will irrigate the linden especially as a back up, but want to find ways
to get these trees to survive without it because we could get a lot more
planted if we could do that. We are establishing wind break systems in the
areas where we are working now, and will keep doing that. We're working on
funding to pay a Lakota to hand water from a truck, which is how the NRD
does it with their windbreak tree projects where they plant thousands of
them - watering 2-3 times per year is enough to keep those tough trees alive
even in some drought. We've also had volunteers go out there and water (and
welcome volunteers in summer time to check on the trees!) Trees make a huge
difference in quality of life in that part of the world. There used to be
more of them. When you go into a little pine forest there, it feels so good,
in both winter and summer. Their houses would be protected, a lot of things
would be better. The people there are careful with using trees for
 firewood - there is a culture of sustainable harvest there of animals,
trees, plants. If we plant enough of them, they have some for emergency
fuel, fence posts, and of course, food.  Seven generation project.

We would like to expand this tree planting program to 1000's of trees -
looking for volunteers, especially grant writers/fund raisers, but other
skill sets too, to make that happen, and there is much else needed - natural
building, broad scale water catchment, etc. We are still fund raising too,
for fuel for the machinery we're using, a truck to haul chips, chipper, etc.
Our non-profit is http://www.permacultureguild.us/category/donate/  if
anyone is moved to donate - even a small amount is hugely helpful!  We
stretch those dollars.
 
Koreen Brennan

www.growpermaculture.com
www.facebook.com/growpermaculturenow
www.meetup.com/sustainable-urban-agriculture-coalition
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