Aid Projects, Commercial Farm Projects, Community Projects, Courses/Workshops, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Gabions, Land, Material, Roads, Soil Conservation, Storm Water, Water Harvesting — by Alex McCausland March 1, 2013
We previously published a report on the development of our site’s flood control and defense infrastructure in October 2010. This is an update on that which goes on to describe some of our plans for developing that infrastructure more in the future.
Just to recap on the basics of our situation: in times of rain, the run-off from the western part of Karat Konso Town (South Ethiopia) runs down the side of the road which heads uphill to the south of our site. This flash flood creates a temporary stream which impacts the south eastern corner of the site. The flash floods can be pretty intense.
Western town watershed, running past SE corner of SFEL site
Biological Cleaning, Conservation, Dams, Earth Banks, Gabions, Irrigation, Land, Material, Potable Water, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Storm Water, Swales, Terraces, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Water Harvesting — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor January 31, 2013
This excellent little 20-minute video does a great job of covering the basics of watershed management and landscape rehydration. You won’t hear the words ‘permaculture’ or ’swales’ once, but it’s clear that both are in use here, to great effect. If we can get these simple but profound concepts driven into social consciousness, and applied broadscale, we would see that investment in labour pay dividends, as many of our increasingly expensive natural disasters and resource limitations would simply disappear, as we reinstate nature’s own moderating capabilities.Comments (7)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Earth Banks, Gabions, Irrigation, Land, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Storm Water, Water Harvesting — by Salah Hammad January 9, 2013
Shibam: UNESCO World Heritage site
I was recently privileged to be part of the team that accompanied Geoff and Nadia Lawton along with Mr. Tashi Dawa in a very interesting consultancy in the Southern Yemen, specifically The Hadhramaut Valley, or Wadi Hadhramaut.
Geoff was invited by the “Reconstruction Fund of Hadhramaut and Al-Mahra” to give his opinion on what could be done in the valley in terms of flood mitigation and water harvesting from a permaculture point of view.Comments (10)
Aid Projects, Earth Banks, Gabions, Land, Material, Soil Conservation, Storm Water, Swales, Terraces — by Daniel Halsey November 29, 2012
This year I have been in Haiti after a downgraded hurricane, and then in New Jersey a week after Sandy. While in New Jersey two tornadoes passed by my old house. What do they have in common?
In each case water was being limited in its flow by developement or the removal of natural structures that diffuse its energy. While working in Haiti and trying to build large enough swales to catch water, it was instantly apparent after the first five-inch rain that what we needed to do was slow it down and catch the sediment.Comments (1)
Commercial Farm Projects, Conservation, Demonstration Sites, Earth Banks, Gabions, Irrigation, Land, Potable Water, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Storm Water, Water Harvesting — by Campbell Wilson October 12, 2012
Article and diagrams copyright © Cam Wilson
At the top end of the Marshalls’ property on the Southern Tablelands, NSW, Australia, the creek is bone dry. This spot, fed by 1250 Ha of native forest, has been that way for 10 weeks now.
Meanwhile, 1.2 km downstream at the base of their property, flowing past the fodder poplars, the bamboo and the ferns and dense native revegetation (where only blackberry stood twelve years ago), is one and a half megalitres of the crystal clear water you see in the photo above; every day. Since the creek dried up at the top of their property, 120 megalitres is a conservative estimate of the base flow that ‘the sponge’ that is ‘Sunningdale’ has continued to release to the landscape below. This is despite a catchment increase between the two sites of only 8% and five out of the last six months of rainfall being well below the average.
What’s the catch? If you’d like a bit of background on how a property like Peter and Kate Marshall’s, which has reinstated the original floodplain hydrological processes, is able to store and then slowly release water, check out the simple diagrams below.Comments (4)
Community Projects, Conservation, Courses/Workshops, Deforestation, Demonstration Sites, Eco-Villages, Education Centres, Energy Systems, Gabions, Irrigation, Land, People Systems, Processing & Food Preservation, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Society, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Storm Water, Swales, Village Development, Waste Water, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Water Harvesting — by Dan Smith January 21, 2012
A certain coal-strewn road in Madrid, New Mexico
— the remnants of a now defunct railway.
Alternately barren and spectacular, the southwest United States has piqued the imagination of Americans and people across the world for generations. The site of gold rushes, Native American homelands, and a culture of lawlessness that has yet to fade completely, much of the land was degraded and destroyed long before Hollywood discovered how to cash in on retelling stories from its checkered past. Films may glorify the breadth and scope of the iconic terrain, but the essence and character of the Southwest ecology has been drastically altered; it little resembles what it once was.Comments (6)
Conservation, Gabions, Irrigation, Land, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Storm Water, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Water Harvesting — by Campbell Wilson November 23, 2011
Article and diagrams copyright © Cam Wilson
This is a pictorial tour of the degradation and dehydration process that the Australian landscape went through post European settlement, along with one of the major aims of Peter Andrews’ Natural Sequence Farming approach, namely the rehydration of the Australian landscape.
If you were one of the early explorers, walking into a wide floodplain system in the early 1800s, more than likely you would have found some form of discontinuous watercourse. One example is known as a ‘chain of ponds’, in which you’d find small bodies of open water, about a metre below the level of the floodplain, held in place and separated from the next pond by a marshy plug of reeds such as Phragmites.Comments (15)
Conservation, DVDs/Books, Dams, Earth Banks, Gabions, Irrigation, Land, Limonia, Material, Natural Swimming, Potable Water, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Roads, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Storm Water, Surveying, Swales, Terraces, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Water Harvesting — by Owen Hablutzel July 14, 2011
The volume reviewed below comes highly recommended for all Permaculturists working in or around any water channels, and particularly on the broad-acre. While the methods happen to apply most immediately in drylands, they will apply directly anywhere that erosion, down-cutting, rapid gully formation, and other forms of channel incision occur. Keep in mind that these techniques will also apply in ephemeral channels that only carry water during rare rain storms, and are otherwise ‘dry.’
Importantly, even if you are working more within mesic environments and do not see a lot of actively incising channels, just the knowledge you will gain about stream dynamics and working with various stream powers and flood-regimes will be applicable and invaluable to your work. These factors, such as the ‘bankfull’ flood, and the specific inter-relations and ratios of multiple stream variables remain the same as basic physics of water flow no matter what the environment. These physics will dictate exactly where and where not to place any kind of built structure within an active water channel, and enable you to predict results of your efforts with much greater precision. How many of us doing this kind of work have lost stream structures to a “gully-washer”? The knowledge and approach in this book could have saved many a headache, cash outlay, and enabled construction of more durable, persistent, and ultimately useful work.
Conservation, Courses/Workshops, Dams, Earth Banks, Gabions, Irrigation, Land, Limonia, Rehabilitation, Roads, Storm Water, Surveying, Swales, Water Harvesting — by Steve Grace May 12, 2011
The sun works on an 11 year cycle over which it radiates heat at varying levels upon the earth. The cycle is observed by counting the frequency and placement of sunspots visible on the sun. Currently we are at a peak of the cycle whereby the sun is radiating a maximum amount of heat and energy. This means increased evaporation off the oceans’ waters and therefore increased precipitation over our lands. When the sun moves towards its less generative stage of the cycle, less evaporation occurs, which means less precipitation and impending dry conditions.
And so the rains have come down upon Zaytuna farm — 111mm in 5 days. The dams are full to the freeboard, the swales are soaking in the sediment, the spillways are spilling, the swivel pipes are swivelling, the soil is having a regeneration party, and the plants are just hangin’ out doing their thing.
And the earthworks have been stopped in their tracks….Comments (2)
Demonstration Sites, Earth Banks, Fencing, Gabions, Land — by Neal Spackman May 9, 2011
Editor’s Note: This is an update on the Al Baydha project we introduced here.
In order to demonstrate our agricultural system, we need to keep goats, camels, and sheep off the site. Initially we were planning to build a standard chain-link fence, but decided we could do better. Instead, we are putting up a big earth berm — about 2.5 meters tall and between 4 and 5 meters wide, with a layer of large stones securing razor wire on top .
Animal Forage, Commercial Farm Projects, Economics, Energy Systems, Financial Management, Gabions, Land, Livestock, Plant Systems, Swales, Waste Systems & Recycling, Working Animals — by Nick Huggins February 16, 2011
I want to share with you a few things about a permaculture design project I finished in late October 2010. Details of the design, some details of working with clients on design projects, basic costing and what to be aware of when doing so. I also outline how I put the project together and what it included.Comments (14)
Community Projects, Demonstration Sites, Earth Banks, Gabions, Land, Swales, Terraces — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor January 14, 2011
Do you remember Geoff’s recent Saudi Arabia consultation? Well, left behind in the Kingdom as project manager to implement the work is Neal Spackman. Neal has kindly followed up on my request for reports, providing the video and images below. After the video I’ll give you a little more swivel-chair commentary based on info I’ve had via email.
The new site recently sustained heavy rainfalls. Older locals said it was the biggest storm the area has seen in more than twenty years. It was great timing for the fledgling project, as it gave opportunity to show exactly where the incomplete system required more work, and where it was working well.
The following image of a road busted up by one of the flash floods gives a decent concept of how much rainfall suddenly descended down hillsides largely devoid of any vegetation that would otherwise slowed its progress and reduced its destructive force:Comments (17)
Building, Energy Systems, Gabions, Land, Swales, Village Development, Waste Systems & Recycling — by Geoff Lawton December 3, 2010
A Filipino garden — in Saudi Arabia!
Working in Saudi Arabia on a large project, in this case the Al-Baydha project, involving Bedouin People who have been resettled into villages for the past 20-30 years, is an interesting broad landscape affair as it covers about 700km2 and 9 villages. The culture of Bedouin rangeland management, with large herds of animals moving across the landscape, has been a stable culture that didn’t originally damage the environment, in fact it probably enhanced it, by good stock management and moving at the right time with the grazing patterns and seasons. The hoof prints of the animals would have accumulated manure, nutrient and seeds which would have germinated by the next rainfall, improving the landscape and therefore continuing the culture — but this relies on the people being able to move freely in a sporadic pattern that is responsive to the conditions; harmonious and regenerative.Comments (9)
Conservation, Gabions, Irrigation, Land, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Water Harvesting — by Geoff Lawton November 25, 2010
Gabions are one of the crucial feature elements of dry land landscape water harvesting design. A gabion is a leaky rock dam wall built in a wadi, valley canyon or water flow, at a point where there would be a reasonable amount of water caught if there was a dam wall in the same position, but the gabion instead leaks through the rocks, slowly releasing a steady flow of water and retained moisture over time. As the water is slowed down by a gabion, it drops its sediments, organic materials, behind the rock wall. Desert catchments are often large and feature very infrequent rainfall events, and are an actively eroding landscape that is continually being blown away, with sediments either eroded or deposited by the wind if there are wind traps like desert tree systems and forests, but also by water flows which are usually strong and can carry large amounts of organic material and sediments away with them.Comments (9)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Conservation, Dams, Demonstration Sites, Earth Banks, Education Centres, Gabions, Irrigation, Land, Regional Water Cycle, Roads, Soil Conservation, Storm Water, Terraces, Water Harvesting — by Alex McCausland October 8, 2010
One of the biggest challenges of doing Permaculture in a semi-arid place like Konso is the drought-flood hydrology besets in degraded dry-lands. The whole of south Ethiopia has now been so deforested, added to the fact that the global climate is getting completely messed up, that rainfall is now completely unpredictable. The old folks are always talking about it here – “you can’t tell when it will rain any-more, it’s not like the old days….” That makes planning plantings much harder for one thing. The other thing is that when it does rain, it pours.
Our site at Strawberry Fields is placed (purposefully) at the bottom of a watershed and at the junction of this watershed and a larger watershed which carries run-off down the main road from the town.
Rough Topographic sketch of the site at SFEL. Shows approximate
positions of the 3 ridges (R1,R2, R3 and 3 primary gulleys G1, G2 and G3
as well as the Main Gulley on as well as the 2 main flows of run-off
effecting the site.