All ideas for contour lines!

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Adrian
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All ideas for contour lines!

Post by Adrian » Sun Jan 18, 2009 8:29 pm

G'day Everyone,
With much dicussion of this subject on the forum, i thought it would be a good idea for everyone to put down therioes and what they have done for the contour lines.
In this blog, say what you have done to build your contours, or any other ideas that would be helpful even if you havn't done so yourself.
The more input you have of how and why, will make it easier for everyone to get a mental pitcure of how it can all fit together.
:D :D :D
Always keep an open mind

duane
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Post by duane » Sun Jan 18, 2009 8:51 pm

Great post Adrian...it should get some interesting replies.

My comments to start the ball rolling are:

*nsf contours are not drains
*to be set up properly they will ultimately act as a perched wetland ie., they will spread water and fertility in the landscape below
*they are not keyline
*they are not permaculture swales
*care must be taken that they do not move SALT especially at the break of slope
*nsf contours operate like the runnels in the landscape. These left a stepped wetland or a pond that was choked with reeds/plants. They usually ran in three's ie three runnels each side of the wetland step. And they usually followed a water contour line.
Last edited by duane on Fri Jan 23, 2009 4:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Adrian
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Location: Northern Victoria Shepparton Area

Post by Adrian » Sun Jan 18, 2009 9:21 pm

I mentioned in another post that using small square bales in hilly areas was a good way of starting a contour line.
I remember as a kid doing the paper round, and seeing the papers that have not been sold from the pevious days bundled up and tied together with string. This has now given me the idea that you could use these bricks of bundled paper to form a base for your contour line.
By placing the bundles in the same manner as you see a bricklayer forming a wall, but instead laying them across the ground.
If you are able to get hold of lazer leveler you could easly set up your contour and move your bricks into place without waiting for your next rain event to fill your contour to see where your lower spots would be.
Once you have done that, all that is needed to do then is dig your contour on the upside of the bricks.
Next time your in town ask your local newsagent if you could collect the papers from them. If not most businesses these days have recycle bins for there paper and cardboard that are collected by a business that charges them a fee to collect. If you could collect it for nothing off them i'm sure they would love you for it as it's saving them money and helping you at the same time.
It's pure carbon that you are placing on your ground, the same thing that was removed from your land. All in all is goota be a good thing!
Always keep an open mind

Adrian
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Location: Northern Victoria Shepparton Area

Post by Adrian » Tue Jan 20, 2009 3:28 pm

Have ever noticed when you leave old worn out machinery some where in the back paddock that the plant life thrives. If you have a small concern spot that the animals get to and it's causing eroision. Move your old junk onto it, it will protect the small area without needing to fence it off. Old trailers are what made me think of this, as usaully the floor is rusted out and now days is just as worth while to buy a new one than trying to fix the old. What better use could you get for it than protecting your land. The scrap metal guys won't give you much for it anyway, and it's worth more to you than you think. Forget recycle, Reuse!!!! :D
Always keep an open mind

nik
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Post by nik » Tue Jan 20, 2009 7:22 pm

Hi Duane

In which way are nsf contour lines different to permaculture swales?

Nik :?

duane
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Post by duane » Fri Jan 23, 2009 8:39 pm

Nik

Some of the differences as I most percieve them to be are:

*permaculture swales are usually built up on the higher ground and transfer water and fertility into a sink (dam)

*nsf contours follow the natural way in which they were in the landscape and spread water and fertility over the landscape below

*nsf contours move fertility and water from the hollows to the high ground-the reverse of the swales

*according to Peter he believes the swales are only about 15% efficient because of 1,2,and 3 above and the commercial difference as a consequence is huge

*the permaculture swales I have seen do not take fertility and salinity consequences into consideration at all in their design

*the nsf contours are effectively functioning wetlands

nik
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Post by nik » Sat Jan 24, 2009 7:26 am

Hi Duane

I think there is a misunderstanding of what swales are. The literature by Mollison and others states that swales are intended to store water in the underlying soil by capturing and holding it for a period of time that allows it to soak into the soil. Swales are built on contour across the landscape at any level. The general idea is that you build as many swales as are needed for the slope to stop the flow of water down the slope on the surface, thus preventing leaching of nutrients. Another important aspect of swaling is to plant trees or shrubs (including weeds) on the top of the swales and downhill side to reduce salt build up and break out and capture the fertility in the water.

In many cases swales are attached to dams which behave in a different way until the dam is full. It must be stated that these swales are on contour with the top water level of the dam. At this point the water can not enter the dam and the swale behaves as stated above. Infact as most of the dams are built into gullies the excess water going into the dam then gets spread out through the swale and delivered out onto the ridges along the contours (effectively the high ground).

So I think that there is no difference in swaling and contouring, it all depends on the intended use. I think that if you are diverting water with a swale to a dam that has a lower release point then effectively you have built a drain not a swale.

My aim in pointing out this misunderstanding is that I feel that the cross over of ideas from permaculture and other disciplines into nsf is essential. It is all about diveristy of ideas.

Currently at my place I have just had a whole lot of swales and dams go into the property. It will be interesting to watch for their effect on the landscape. I will be keeping a close watch on any salt outbreaks at the base of the dam walls. Soon the creek will be fenced off from the cattle and the white cedar seedlings will be planted out (many thanks to Ron Bastion for the seeds). It will good to see them thrive and hopefully it won't be long before the reeds are up and choking the creek a bit more and mending the errosion.

Nik

duane
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Post by duane » Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:25 am

Thanks Nik for your informative post.

I too see it very necessary to have a good cross fertilisation of ideas.

There are SO many points of agreement with permaculture and NSF but at the end of the day they are all dealing with natural systems. I believe it simply comes down to points of difference in management and an understanding or interpretation of observed results that produces these management practices.

I too am still learning- every day. That is why the promulgation of ideas and peoples experiences on the net can be such a good and instantaneous learning tool.

Keep up the good work everyone.

Foxdale
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All things contoured.

Post by Foxdale » Tue Mar 17, 2009 12:02 pm

Hello Nik, Adrian, Duane.
All things considered we are all singing from the same hymm book.
Swales or contour swales, whatever, they sought of do the same thing.
They slow down the water and spread it out and minimize the erosion.
I have experimented with them for 8 years now. Shovel in hand. My method now is to dig out from below and toss the soil on the uphill side.

Why ? because I was finding that the hill on the downward side was getting steeper and the soil on the hill side was getting steaper as well. The soil was washing into the swale and filling it up. I was digging this out and putting it on the downhill side and making that steeper to mow.

Now. I put a load of manure on the uphill side, and dig out the swale and pile that on top of the manure. Then when it rains the water has to soak through the manure and soil before it then gets to the swale/ drain. The water in this is then held and is nutient rich and spreads this nutrient out accross the length of the swale. It slowly soaks in downhill. If there is a big rainfall event the drain/swale holds the water back untill it all tops over together, much the same as Peter's wetlands model.
Any soil that washes down the hill from above the swale gets trapped with the manure/soil mound. Doesn't fill up my swale/drain and so on.
I have found this to be more benifitial in the distribution of the nutrients. I think this double swale is written in Peters first book.
The down hill swale is not steep, I can mow along the downhill side of the swale without being on an angle. I then mow along the uphill side, on less of an angle pushing the slashings uphill.
I have noticed that the soil downhill is getting more pasture coverage, and is softer. The worm count in the uphill mound is increasing too.

You may look at his idea and say it is like terracing, well yes it is. But have you ever looked at the ancient landsacapes of the world and seen all these terraces. No erosion, just rice paddies full of water way up the mountain side. They don't pump it up there. it's held up there via the terraces/swales/drains. call them what you will. They work and have been in use since the inca's time.
Australia is only an infant in this agricultural time-line. So put your swales and manures uphill.
Keep it Simple, Keep it natural and be sustainable.
You can't fight against stupidity, but I'm trying.

brettmtl
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focused

Post by brettmtl » Tue Mar 17, 2009 11:23 pm

There are some really good points made here, a cross pollination of ideas.

I might as well throw in my two bob.

1) laser levelled and pegged out contour

2) Grader went maximum of 400mm deep.

3)Then in middle of swales made cuts through every 50 - 100 metres to allow water to flow through the middle of property and prevent from flowing around ends of swale. This was suggested by the grader driver, who was a champion operator.

Image

4) Currently placing old sleepers, any type of log to provide shade, cover and so forth for bugs, moisture, bacteria and mycelium. Am currently looking into trucking up mountain ash woodchips, as they will feed the mycelium and bacteria that supports the forest type I am after. Does any one have alternative suggestions on the mountain ash woodchips?

Stay focused and have fun.

Foxdale
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Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2008 9:15 am
Location: Goulburn

All things contoured.

Post by Foxdale » Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:31 pm

Nice swale. How did you get the picture up on to the forum page?
I would like to show you the growth that can occur.

Which way does the water flow accross the paddock. left to right? or right to left. which is the way I would do it. Push the soil up hill.

Can you truck in manure from a horse trainer or from a feed lot. That's what I have been trialling with.
Keep it Simple, Keep it natural and be sustainable.
You can't fight against stupidity, but I'm trying.

duane
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Post by duane » Mon Mar 23, 2009 8:51 pm

My guess is the water moves from l to r.

Adrian
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Post by Adrian » Mon Mar 23, 2009 9:43 pm

Nice work Brett!
Just wondering if you could get a photo from inside the cuts you made in the swales looking uphill?
How many and how far apart have you made your swales?
Always keep an open mind

Adrian
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Location: Northern Victoria Shepparton Area

Post by Adrian » Tue Mar 24, 2009 3:40 pm

Don't worry Brett i found it in your topic of "FLAT LAND"
Always keep an open mind

brettmtl
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Post by brettmtl » Tue Mar 24, 2009 5:50 pm

You are on the ball Duane, yes water moves from left to right.

Foxdale, I used photobucket.com to generate code for forum. It is really easy to do, just upload photos from your computer to photobucket and under 'Share' you will find the code for bulletin boards and forums. Just copy and paste that in your post.

I would love to see some of your photos and what you have been experimenting with. I can truck in manure.
How have you used the manure? How thick have you applied it and have you mixed it with anything else? What effect has this had on the soil below? What plants have since grown? Why would you put soil on upside?

Stay focused and have fun
:)

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