Category: Surveying

Urban Swales

rob avis swales feat

Last year, we did a series of videos looking at the swale systems on our property and demonstration site. Part one looks at how we’ve combined the featuress of a Hügelkultur system, a wicking bed, and swales to nourish a productive garden that requires very little additional irrigation: Urban Swales Part 1: Weeping Tile & Mulched Pathways This second video in the urban swales series looks at permaculture design with […]

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Bunyip Water Level: Measure Contour Lines & Swales

Neal Gist Feat

To have professional surveyors map our contour lines was going to cost thousands of dollars and many we spoke to outright refused because of the number of trees and acreage. The estimates we did receive were not frequent in elevational increments – one even came in at “every 60 feet!” So we ended up hiring a company only for marking our property boundaries. To map the inner swales and contour […]

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Rapidly-Cut Swales with Tractor Blade


We are making early progress on our 320-acre Missouri permaculture-farm project (Jordan Rubin’s Heal the Planet Farm). Last fall, a local dozer operator was brought in to dig the first swales. It was a small dozer but it did a respectable job and did the work in a relatively short period of time compared to an excavator. See the blog post with video here. Before we brought the dozer back […]

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Contour Beds Peru

The ancient Inca also utilised contour patterning in their agriculture. This article will describe the process we took to create kitchen garden contour beds in the Sacred Valley Peru. Contour beds are annual and/or perennial vegetable garden beds that conform to the natural pattern of the landscape. Being on contour means that the paths and beds themselves are level and follow the lay of the land. Not only does this […]

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Drought-Proofing California…not in the news

Digging our well-surveyed swales. I woke up this morning, put on my gum-boots and went out for a walk around our family farm in the rain. This in itself might not seem to be anything special to many folks, yet this was a 2”/5cm rainfall after several intense years of drought here in Southern California. I cannot express how exciting this morning has been for me as I was thinking […]

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Earthworks Course Introduction with Geoff Lawton (video)

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If you’re considering doing Geoff Lawton’s Permaculture Design Certificate Course later this month and want to know more, check out the Bonus $1200 Earthworks course we are including for free. It’s a mixture of classroom and field lectures that will bring you up to speed and teach you how to build dams, ponds, swales, water features, spillways and house sites using excavators.

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Before Permaculture: Keyline Planning and Cultivation

Freshly keyline plowed (Photo: Kirsten Bradley) Plan the work then work the plan. — P.A. Yeomans Intro In the mid 1950s, Australian engineer P.A. Yeomans demonstrated a new system of land management he called the Keyline system. The consensus of the time, championed by people like Dr H.H. Bennett, was that soil was a finite resource and that once depleted “it was irretrievably lost as if consumed by fire”. P.A. […]

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Reflections on Dryland Water Management in Portugal

A reflection following a great time finding solutions for dryland water management in Portugal by Richard Perkins I’m enjoying working on a job connecting up extensive irrigation in the mountains of Extremadura, Spain, and relaxing for a couple of days after a successful and effective Dryland Water Management intensive at the budding Permaculture Institute, Vale De Lama, near Lagos in the South of Portugal. This week we have been looking […]

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High-Tech Help for Amazonian Farmers

by Rick Pickett, Eco-Ola In our three-years of experience in the Peruvian Amazon we’ve learned that equipment and techniques tried and proven elsewhere often don’t function well here. The combination of primitive infrastructure, intense heat, and high humidity wreaks havoc with equipment. Luckily for us, and the community of Mazán, we have Rick Pickett to apply truly useful technology to our project. (And, thankfully, his technology has yet to fall […]

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Permaculture in Palestine – a Green Revolution

by Melissa Andrews Olive trees stand the test of time in Palestine All images © Christopher List Photography It was a brisk, rather harried morning when my husband, photographer Christopher List, and I set off on a trip to delve deeper into the relatively unheard of phenomenon of permaculture. It felt like only yesterday when we’d announced to friends and family that were were going to Palestine, to study a […]

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Let the Water Do the Work: Induced Meandering, an Evolving Method for Restoring Incised Channels


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, […]

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Earthworks Course – Zaytuna Farm, The Channon, May 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 […]

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