Perched Water Tables

Any questions or comments you have about Natural Sequence Farming processes. These could include general questions or ones about your personal problems.

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ctpatt
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2010 4:46 am

Perched Water Tables

Postby ctpatt » Thu Oct 14, 2010 12:40 pm

I apologize if this question has been answered already, but I have yet to find it. I am new to NSF, but it seems to focus a lot of on the hydrology of the landscape much more so than other land management disciplines. Frequently, it recommends creating "wetlands" to soak water through other parts of the property. However, I am curious what NSF would recommend if the whole property is itself a wetland to the extent that it impedes crop production. Surely, the answer for traditional agriculture is subsurface tile drainage, but this is expensive and I am wondering if there is another way. Most of the land in question is silty/sandy clay loam topsoil underlaid by heavy clays or clay loams several meters deep. The soils are slowly permeable with water tables 15 to 45cm from the surface and the land is really flat (1-3% slopes; emphasis on 1%). The soil is very slowly permeable and poorly drained. The climate can put forth anywhere from 120cm to 200+ cm of rainfall annually, so ponding is an issue in a high rainfall year. Clearly organic matter is important in this situation to open up the soil a little bit and allow water to enter, but I'm having trouble going much beyond that. Water tends to collect on the surface so some kind of surface drainage is needed, however there is still the problem of getting it into the landscape. Has anyone dealt with a similar situation or have enough knowledge of NSF principles to solve this problem?

Shirley Henderson
Posts: 356
Joined: Sun May 06, 2007 4:03 pm
Location: Thirlmere

Re: Perched Water Tables

Postby Shirley Henderson » Tue Oct 19, 2010 7:32 am

I am not a farmer but have a question for you. Should this particular piece of land be farmed? It sounds like it is a wetland and probably should remain so. Do you have a large property that could protect this wetland? No one else has answered so I am just curious. What is it that you would like to produce?
Shirley

ctpatt
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2010 4:46 am

Re: Perched Water Tables

Postby ctpatt » Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:17 am

The land borders a bayou so yes it is a wetland. The soil in question is prime farmland when drained artificially and there are many farms in the area. Some keep the land wet and grow rice, others drain and produce a diversity of crops. The land bordering the bayou would be kept in native hardwoods to maintain some of the natural vegetation and absorb moisture if the banks overflow. The second largest land use after native forest would be permanent pasture, but its important to keep the animals from getting wet feet. A relatively small portion of the area would need to be drained for market vegetable and fruit production. Does anyone have any constructive suggestions for improving drainage on clay soils?

Shirley Henderson
Posts: 356
Joined: Sun May 06, 2007 4:03 pm
Location: Thirlmere

Re: Perched Water Tables

Postby Shirley Henderson » Wed Oct 20, 2010 6:56 pm

Why not arrange a consultation with Peter Andrews? It sound like your land needs to be assessed. Clay can be dried out by aerating and adding organic matter. If your land is a flood plain it has a natural recuring cycle and function. THis is Peters area of expertise. Depending on the size of your property and if you still need to farm and produce while doing that. You need advice from the farmer himself. Good luck, hope he is available to help.

matto
Posts: 48
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2010 6:20 pm
Location: victoria and southern nsw

Re: Perched Water Tables

Postby matto » Thu Oct 21, 2010 11:51 am

Im not sure Peter would advocate draining of the land, given the problems that have arised in the past. Do the neighbouring farms in your area have problems with salinity? What other problems have they found?
Im just being introduced to primary production, it seems to me once people start to wage war with nature, problems begin. Would rice production and farm forestry not suit your needs?


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