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Gley technique for sealing ponds and dams .... and walls?

Chelle Lewis


Joined: Dec 10, 2009
Posts: 417
Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
    
    1
Gley is an age-old technique for sealing ponds and dams but the suggestion that it might be used for human structures that need to be waterproofed is interesting. Any thoughts?

GLEY

Related to the word 'glaze', a gley is like a biological plastic membrane such as is found in bogs, which is formed by a bacterial process that requires anaerobic conditions.

Traditionally a technique for sealing ponds and dams, there is potential for the process to be adapted for human-made structures. The Russian-devised version for dams uses a slurry of animal waste (pig manure) applied over the inner base and walls of the dam in multiple, thin layers, which is then itself covered with vegetable organic matter such as grass, leaves, waste paper, cardboard, etc. This is all then given a final layer of soil which is tamped down and the mixture is left for several weeks to allow the (anaerobic) bacteria to complete their task, at which time the dam is ready for flooding.

Gleys have the potential to revolutionise water storage capacity in regions with hightly porous soils. An aquaculture industry in otherwise unsuitable areas scould be one of the benefits of this technique.

Unlike bentonite clay, gley materials are virtually cost-free and are comprised of 'wastes' which would normally be discarded in the normal course of operations. Also, plastic and rubber dam liners may actually be dependent on the same anaerobic process for their own continued effectiveness rather than their lack of holes or punctures ­ ie, it is the anaerobic layer created below them rather than their own membranous qualities which prevent water seepage in the long term.


Want to find the exact how-to for using gley to waterproof ponds too....

Chelle
Chelle Lewis


Joined: Dec 10, 2009
Posts: 417
Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
    
    1
Found some info on how-to.....

Another technique, recently developed in the USSR, is called a "gley" or
"biological plastic." "Gley" can be made in the pond in this way:
* Clear the pond bottom of debris, rocks, and all other materials.
* Cover the pond bottom and sides completely with animal manure.
Apply the manure in an even layer.
* Cover the animal manure layer with banana leaves, cut grasses, or
any vegetable matter. Make sure that all of the manure is covered.
* Put a layer of soil on top of the vegetable layer.
* Tamp the layers down very well.
* Wait 2 to 3 weeks before filling the pond.


Chelle
David Castillo


Joined: Feb 04, 2010
Posts: 24
Location: IL/WI Border
Very interesting. I was going to post and ask about this very thing, but wasn't going to until I was closer to working on a pond system.

Is this how Sepp seals his? IIRC I read that he can get any type of soil to seal.
Chelle Lewis


Joined: Dec 10, 2009
Posts: 417
Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
    
    1
I think he only uses pigs and no greens and soil over ...

Found this now as well.....

Gley

Gley is another material useful for sealing ponds. Gley is produced by spreading a six to nine inch layer of very fresh, green manure over the area to be sealed. The manure is then covered with plastic, cardboard, or anything else that prevents oxygen from reaching the manure so that it will ferment anaerobically. The fermentation produces a bacterial slime in one to two weeks that can permanently seal soils. After two weeks the plastic or other covering can be removed and the pond can be filled with water.

Livestock

Livestock such as hogs or cattle penned into a pond will seal the soil in a way similar to the gley method. Livestock provide the added benefit of hoof action to help mix and pack manure into the pond bottom. The livestock are left in the pond until the bottom has been completely covered with manure and well trampled. Occasionally watering the pond bottom will speed this process.

The gley or livestock method of sealing ponds may be the least expensive when materials or animals are readily available. 


Chelle
Irene Kightley
pollinator

Joined: Apr 13, 2009
Posts: 337
Location: South West France
    
  15
Pigs are great for sealing ponds and they have a lot of fun in the process !



This one has never leaked since the pigs had access to it.



La Ferme de Sourrou : Nos projets avec PHOTOS
tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3087
Location: woodland, washington
    
  53
how deep is that pond, Irene?  I've heard pigs only seal relatively shallow ponds well.  I would be delighted to hear otherwise.


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Irene Kightley
pollinator

Joined: Apr 13, 2009
Posts: 337
Location: South West France
    
  15
The pond was dug to about a metre and a half in the middle. When the water started being retained, the pigs sealed the middle then as more and more water gathered in the pond, they sealed the edges.

During the second year, the pond started losing water and the pigs went more and more towards the middle again.

If you start with a pond with no water in it, in theory I'd imagine that they could puddle all depths.
tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3087
Location: woodland, washington
    
  53
could be more of an issue of the angle of the walls, then.  maybe pigs ponds are limited to being wide and gradually sloped?
rose macaskie


Joined: May 09, 2009
Posts: 2134
  Great. sounds easier than putting in a plastic liner.
ma
  Also, it could maybe be another  reason for having lots of vegetable matter in sandy soils where the water filters too fast and takes nutrients down with it maybe lots of vegetable matter makes a gley in the soil that reduces speed with which the water goes through the soil and into the sub soil.

    The speed with which the water enters the earth is something you want to increase in some places and decrease in others, like decrease it  in sandy soils were it is hard to hold on to the nutrients in the soil, the water runs through the soil so fast washing nutrients out of it and increase it in clay ones that get water logged, allowing the water to percolate through the soil. If the soil gets water logged there wont be enough air in it for the plant roots which need oxygen. Organic matter is the answer for both things. is the answer for clay and sandy soils because even if it does not form gley it will absorbe and hold more water than sand does, if the organic matter makes gley in a sandy soil then it maybe even more usefull for bettering these soils. Organic matter  breaks up clay soils making them healthier for plant roots and more workable.

  Sepp holzer mentions copying the way pigs make water holes, what was not clear was if they defecated in their water holes or not, so your second way of making pond bottoms is with animals held in the area to defecating in them and treading in the manure would probably be Sepps way when he uses pigs.
     WHen he uses a one of those big road building machines, I dont know what htey are called, to make ponds with,  and jiggles the soil with the machine but has not manure in the mix,  then the technic he uses sounds like  the  technic they use to make the islands in the sea in Dubai, they put big iron  spikes into the sand to vibrate the sand to get it to settle down hard and make a firm base for the island.

      I thought pigs did not dirty their own beds if they had a choice, maybe their own water hole is a different matter. If you shut them in the water hole they would be obliged to defecate in it, that might mean that simply leaving them in the feild the pond was in would not work, they might defacate in another bit of the feild.
   I liked paul wheaton addition to this thread before the threaqd got ordered and clearer, about farmers saying that pigs water proof feilds they are left on, it makes it easier to believe that pigs work to water proof ponds.
      i think this thread has been  tidied up to leave all the information clear as anything, which is great, it is much clearer like this, though my peice made less sense than it probably even did in the first peice. so i have changed it a bit.

     If i digg a hole in the garden and leave a hose dripping in it for a few hours a day in summer, I can get the pigs. There are wild boar in the district and if the irrigation of the apple trees springs a leak  they will come and wallow in the water on the ground, I know, we had a leak one summer and they came and wallowed in it to judge from the signs they left around, but will they defacate in it?   
    This about wild boar is an idea for those who llive in countries with wild boar in them. agri rose macaskie.
Irene Kightley
pollinator

Joined: Apr 13, 2009
Posts: 337
Location: South West France
    
  15
It's mechanical digger where I come from Rose.

The problem with them is they make a real mess of the land around the pond and with their tracks getting to the pond.

We've made a lot of ponds but we use puddled clay which is not the same technique but if you have clay on your land that can be used very successfully and I imagine lasts better.

I've a few photos here of our wetlands project.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/hardworkinghippy/sets/72157594164870676/
rose macaskie


Joined: May 09, 2009
Posts: 2134
How do you use puddled clay?
I looked at your wet land project, you helped the flow of the river instead of slowing it up like Peter Andrews would, but Peter Andrews works in dry places. Unless there is somthing important you might flood down stream if you collected to much water, should not you slow up the course of the river? hold water up as high as possible as long as possible type idea so it gets to really infiltrating the earth.
don't let water run to the ocean before it has filled all possible underground supplies and wet the earth as much as possible.  geoff lawton type waer harvesting idea.
    Whether the same rules apply in wet countries i don't know, everything is so intricate.
     Trying to get a good gley that stops water penetration rather spoils the idea that the water held up will help fill subsoil supplies.
    A gley is what blocks my sink but i thought it was a fungal mat of black gelatine like fungus. agri rose macaskie.
Chelle Lewis


Joined: Dec 10, 2009
Posts: 417
Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
    
    1
Irene Kightley wrote:
It's mechanical digger where I come from Rose.

The problem with them is they make a real mess of the land around the pond and with their tracks getting to the pond.

We've made a lot of ponds but we use puddled clay which is not the same technique but if you have clay on your land that can be used very successfully and I imagine lasts better.

I've a few photos here of our wetlands project.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/hardworkinghippy/sets/72157594164870676/
That is some project!! Superb..... Nice looking pigs too. What kind are they?

I have realised that I have ready-made "gley" under my river sand. I found it just before Christmas and wondered if it was clay.... but it stinks so much it most definitely is gley! Humus has rotted down anaerobically under the risen river. But the river has been up too high since then to access it. Due to lower soon. I good winter project.... redeeming the gley.

I would probably line a small pond with it.... lay fresh manure and greens and add more gley over and fill with water.... see what happens. I was getting desperate and bought coprox ... a waterproofing additive to add to cement. Would much prefer this method proving successful!!! Could do many many ponds in my food forest then.

Chelle
Irene Kightley
pollinator

Joined: Apr 13, 2009
Posts: 337
Location: South West France
    
  15
Hi there !

The sow in the 'photo is a Black Gascon, a superb outdoor pig famed for its wonderful ham and one of the most ancient breeds of pig known in France.

We still have about half of a ham which is well over two years old and ate some tonight - superbe !



Rose,

How do you use puddled clay?


Here's a link which will explain better than I can.

i looked at your wet land project, you helped the flow of the river instead of slowing it up like Peter Andrews would, but peter andrews works in dry places.


It depends on what you want to achieve.

Here the valleys are wet because, as I explained in the text with the photos, fallen trees block the stream. We need to reduce the humidity in the area to reduce the number of internal parasites in our animals and let them graze safely without getting stuck in the thick mud. We have a lot of water here and want to share it with other farmers in the village who once relied on the stream to water their animals. We also stock fish in ponds further down the stream which need clean aerated water.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Irene, PLEASE make a thread talking about preserving pork meat!  Your ham looks gorgeous, as do your ponds and pigs.   

We're going to try this gley thing out, Chelle!  It makes sense that the pigs do this for you when they are confined to an area designated to turn into a pond at a later date.  But for small ponds seems it could work by hand.  6-9" is a LOT of manure though.  Geeze.  Wonder if it could be a few inches of manure and then another few inches of vegetable matter?  I feel the major advantage of gley is that pond plants would enjoy living in the nutrient rich bottom layer of gley.  The clay methods don't seem to add nutrients to the bottom of the pond in the same way a big thick layer of manure would. 

My totally ignorant conjecture about the wall questions:  Seems gley only works where it is constantly wet.  I don't think you'd want a constantly wet and smelly wall.....right?    Just can't imagine how you'd keep a wall wet enough for two weeks to get the baterial slime, and then it seems it would just die as it dried out and the sealing properties would go away. 

Baby mammal poo (from animals that injest only milk - calf poo is the best I've been told) is supposed to be an excellent additive for the finish layer of wall mudding.  The lactose and casein in it make very long sticky protein chains that help resist cracking.  Clay/cob walls can be burnished with a smooth metal object (like a big spoon) to a very smooth shiny finish, and then oiled to resist water.  That's all the info I've got in that dept. 
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
Irene Kightley wrote:
The pond was dug to about a metre and a half in the middle. When the water started being retained, the pigs sealed the middle then as more and more water gathered in the pond, they sealed the edges.

During the second year, the pond started losing water and the pigs went more and more towards the middle again.

If you start with a pond with no water in it, in theory I'd imagine that they could puddle all depths.


He also learned how the pigs work, and taught a BCS operator.

In the videos, he describes shaking the soil so that coarse particles rise to the top. If there isn't much clay present, the rocks & sand are scooped out, better soil added, and the process repeated as necessary. If I understand this correctly, it's something called the Brazil nut effect, and it's used to create a layer of clay out of mixed soil.


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Chelle Lewis


Joined: Dec 10, 2009
Posts: 417
Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
    
    1
marina phillips wrote:We're going to try this gley thing out, Chelle!  It makes sense that the pigs do this for you when they are confined to an area designated to turn into a pond at a later date.  But for small ponds seems it could work by hand.  6-9" is a LOT of manure though.  Geeze.  Wonder if it could be a few inches of manure and then another few inches of vegetable matter?  I feel the major advantage of gley is that pond plants would enjoy living in the nutrient rich bottom layer of gley.  The clay methods don't seem to add nutrients to the bottom of the pond in the same way a big thick layer of manure would. 
From what I can figure... anything that will break down anaerobically will create the gley. It was only vegetable matter that sealed the ponds that first gave the clues to it all.... that vege matter can seal pods. I know that the stuff down under my river sand that is black and stinks had no manure and I could already see when digging it up to try build up the bank higher that as we got deeper and deeper it was holding water. This is just me figuring after reading and minimal experience though.

My totally ignorant conjecture about the wall questions:  Seems gley only works where it is constantly wet.  I don't think you'd want a constantly wet and smelly wall.....right?     Just can't imagine how you'd keep a wall wet enough for two weeks to get the baterial slime, and then it seems it would just die as it dried out and the sealing properties would go away.
I know that raw cow manure is used in parts of Africa to seal a hard floor. And this is not wet all the time. It also doesn't stink once dried and hard. Might be a way of sealing walls when applied layer on layer.... but still trying to find out. 

Baby mammal poo (from animals that injest only milk - calf poo is the best I've been told) is supposed to be an excellent additive for the finish layer of wall mudding.  The lactose and casein in it make very long sticky protein chains that help resist cracking.  Clay/cob walls can be burnished with a smooth metal object (like a big spoon) to a very smooth shiny finish, and then oiled to resist water.  That's all the info I've got in that dept. 
Very interesting. Maybe "gleying" walls is more for hardness and smoothness than waterproofing. I am very interested in appropriate technologies so will keep looking.

Chelle
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Maybe "gleying" walls is more for hardness and smoothness than waterproofing.


I was told by Deston Lee (he posts here sometimes [or did when his back was really messed up], he was a teacher at the PDC I just attended in Washington) that you can make shower stalls using the burnished and oiled/waxed clay treatment for walls.  That sounds like a situation where it would need to be all the way waterproof!  I think the treatment needs to be re-applied every few years. 

You're wanting a solution for exterior walls, right?

Yeah, dung is a traditional addition to mud building mixes, especially in your neck of the jungle, my semi-educated guess is that the partially/mostly broken down grass proteins help form a very hard surface?  Some kind of water resistant something would be needed to make it waterproof for though.  I think with more than a little bit of moisture it would turn mushy and smelly again. 
rose macaskie


Joined: May 09, 2009
Posts: 2134
  Is it to protect the clay walls that there are roofs on walls in some countries, mud walls need a roof?
  I i drive through a village that was all uncooked clay bricks they are refurbishing it now and there is little evidence that the walls are clay left. They have a stone wall for the first few feet i imagine to keep the clay out of the mud.

  I suppose that the gley in a pond gets renewed with all the leaves that fall into the water lying on the bottom and getting aner0obically broken down again .
  if you have lots of vegetable matter in a sandy soil iit might make a gley down were the water table was, were things remained wet all year, mighten it?
  Interesting the words gley, clay there must have a common root in anglo saxon a sort of sticky material is called gley or clay.  rose .
rose macaskie


Joined: May 09, 2009
Posts: 2134
ç on the pros of blocking up bits of stream  to slow the flow and  make pools and of flooding feilds in the wet season.
   Irene kightley, you say an unblocked river lets the water go to the next village where its needed. I don’t mean a dam that is an impenetrable block, just one that holds up the river while it swells enough to go over it, a stop  in the waters flow a bit to slow it up and make a wider river.

      I feel as if this opens an argument I might probably have with the village so what I say is as if directed my explanations indirectly at them not you, a preparation for what is maybe to come.

      If you dam a river a bit every so often making it wider, you stop it eroding so much, the same amount of water is going down stream but slower because the dams are stops to its flow and may make it spread out and  go down in a wider slower fashion. A slower flow won’t cut into the hill so much. I have a precipice in my garden, mind you they are quite nice but it is steep work going up and down the slopes of my ravine.

      Some people seem to think that if you dam it, the water won’t go downhill, The sort of dam I could make only makes a small pool, when that’s full it topples over the top of the dam and goes downhill like it did before, pools in rivers are good for wild life, food starts to build up in them things aren’t getting dashed on so much.

     One thing that makes a steady flow of water is filling up the water table, and one way to fill it up is holding up the water in ponds like yours where it will seep into the underground water systems and come up again in the village downstream, Maybe not in the village just below but in some other village further downstream. What goes down must come up, eh. I have not fully thought what goes down myust come up one out, to borrow a phrase of Jon Stewart’s. 

   
       If the water of one rainfall event goes down the river fast, it is as if a giant football went down the river instead of a thread of water. The villagers would not have time to use it much before it had rolled on to the next village. The question is how to spread it out in time so making it more available to everyone and less so to the ocean, though it needs to get there.
        When there is too much irrigation in a dry country as irrigation is very shallow and far flung it can just cause most of the water to evaporate and then the water does not end up in the sea and seas and lakes can and have dried up. recently the Aral sea and lake Chad and in the past the sea of the Thar desert.
        If you have lots of roots and vegetable matter in your soil that helps the ground take in the rain water it will sink deep into the hill and drip out of the hill into the river instead of running off the surface of the hill and the whole lot getting to the river in one day leaving the place it came from forever and straight away.

     Another way of holding up rain water when a lot falls could be flooding certain fields in all villages when there is an excess of rain so the water is held up in a lot of places up stream instead of flooding one or two places downstream.
We have had a lot of floods in Spain this year.

     This is flooding pieces of land in the rainy season is a normal, traditional, form of water harvesting in India.
      The water held up serves for the villagers uses in the wet season and then feild to plant crops on when the water dries up in the dry season, in desert areas, which crops manage to live on the water the ground under the flooded area has stored long enough to produce a crop. 
    The water in a flooded field in contact with a lot of land, making a shallow but very wide bit of flood water, will be in contact with a greater area of land to sink into, increasing the likely hood of replenishing the water table and only get to the sea after remerging in streams or welling up out of the land and forming streams further downhill or after being held in underground lakes or semi-pervious rocks where it might be useful to others.
      When the Indians, Indian Indians, reestablished this old system of water harvesting rivers that had run dry reappeared and ditto wells.
     When there are heavy rains there is so much water going from all the places to the sea that it is likely to cause floods downstream, so it would be good to flood some fields in all the villages on the rivers course to stop so much water going down the river at once.
      There used to be water meadows I England I must look them up, Maybe they only have to do with mills.
     This concern with keeping a steady flow of water instead of having too much one day and not enough the next is part of water harvesting and permaculture. Agri rose macaskie.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14969
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I've always seen it spelled "glie".

Sepp does not use this technique. 

For it to work in a pond, it has to be underwater all the time.  And, yes, it's a LOT of poop!  Or moldy hay works too.


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Chelle Lewis


Joined: Dec 10, 2009
Posts: 417
Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
    
    1
From what I have understood the word "gley" in English comes from the Russian word "glei".

It doesn't have to start off underwater all the time.... that is why it can be used to create a pond........  but the manure and greens do have to be covered well with soil to create the anaerobic conditions for the slime to form. This is said to be left for about 3 weeks without any filling..... and then filled.... usually proving to be waterproof... if not... wait longer or add greens and manure... re-cover with soil and wait longer.

Will give it a go and see what happens....

Chelle



Rob Sigg


Joined: Feb 04, 2010
Posts: 710
Location: PA-Zone 6
Can this be done without manure? I will have some pretty deep and wide areas for mini ponds that will be in my clay soil. The one thing I noticed especially where my property meets farmland is the subsoil is a grey/blue color and goes into the typical red clay. My understanding is that the grey soil is in fact gley due to poor drainage. Which makes sense because the farmer uphill has his plow lines running in such a way that it directs water right to our property edge. If my soil is partly gley it makes me wonder how much treatment I will have to give it. I was going to just dig it, let it fill up and monitor the height of the water level.


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Chelle Lewis


Joined: Dec 10, 2009
Posts: 417
Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
    
    1
Yes, from what I understand it can be done without manure. This is what happens naturally underwater. The manure in the managed set-up stage seems to speed things up because of the introduction of bacteria.

I also have natural gley formation under my river sand on the bank of the river. It is a dark blue-ish colour too and really stinks... the anaerobic breakdown of matter no doubt. I have been waiting for the river to subside enough to get at it and see how effective it is in starting a few small ponds for frogs in my Food Forest. The one thing I am concerned about is how the frogs will attract snakes. I guy from the local snake park came around today and gave me the low-down on all the local snakes and what to do. I hadn't realised how many are poisonous! I am usually pretty interested when I see a snake and we have had some come in the house. I will now take more care! He said the Mocambique Spitting Cobra has been known to climb into bed with some people locally seeking warmth and they got bitten! Nasty... very poisonous. I gained a new respect for these predators today.

Chelle
Aljaz Plankl


Joined: Feb 18, 2010
Posts: 310
    
    4
Thanks to all, interesting stuff!
                    


Joined: Mar 19, 2010
Posts: 63
Location: N.W. Arkansas
We dug a small pond, in red clay soil.  It wouldn't seal up.  So, we put a big fat pot bellied pig in there.  He managed to seal a small area, then his escaping ways got him sold.

But, he sealed enough to hold a bit of water for the ducks to swim in, and the frogs love it.  I would like to see the water come up higher.  Will the ducks, geese and frogs in time add enough manure to bring the water up?  The banks are now growing weeds, and this pond will get alot of tree leaves.  We had alot of winter snow and rain, and at the moment it is looking pretty good, about half full, but it will usually keep going down.  Good news is I have never seen it go completely dry.  Can I do more to help it?  It is a small pond with 6 geese, and 7 ducks with access to it, they aren't there constantly, just when they want to swim.  And I honestly, do not want more pigs.  I find they are just too escape oriented for me.  The pond is in a pasture of about 2 acres, and also has 5 goats in there, the goats do not use the pond, they have a water tank, due to ducks mucking it up.


Talk to your plants!   If your plants talk to you...Run!
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
Ozark Lady wrote:Can I do more to help it?


If it's small enough, you might try vibrating the bottom the way a pig would, or the way Sepp's heavy equipment operator does.

I think a spading fork or a scuffle hoe would be about the right sort of tool, from my understanding of the process. The tool goes into the soil at the bottom, and shaking it eventually causes the mix of soil and water to undergo a phase change and begin to flow. Once you feel this difference in the soil underneath the tool, you can move the tool around on the bottom, working all the places that seem to be leaking.

The response you're looking for (assuming I understood Sepp's description from the video) is the opposite of oobleck: it should be stiff, and suddenly loosen up once the rate of shear becomes high enough.
Rob Sigg


Joined: Feb 04, 2010
Posts: 710
Location: PA-Zone 6
OK so now I am confused....big suprise I know! Are we saying that gley cannot be accomplished without the equipment? I thought it an be done with just the glass clippings etc.
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
blitz1976 wrote:
OK so now I am confused....big suprise I know! Are we saying that gley cannot be accomplished without the equipment? I thought it an be done with just the glass clippings etc.


Gley can be accomplished without equipment.

But you asked about continuing the work your pigs had done.  The effect of pigs was probably mostly mechanical, from the action of their hooves on damp soil.
Daniel Zimmermann


Joined: Jan 04, 2010
Posts: 120
Location: Sacramento
A Pig Poo Pond? 


Previously known as "Antibubba".
                    


Joined: Mar 19, 2010
Posts: 63
Location: N.W. Arkansas
I am confused too.  A fork?  I would think you would want something to ram it.  Kind of like a rammed earth construction.  But, then again, guessing how to build a pond is how we got into this.  The idea was a round pond, with an island in the middle.  There are two large trees on the island.  One has died, but the other one looks good.
And it is not holding water all the way around, it is more like a horseshoe, which actually might be better for the surviving tree.
 
At the moment it is nearing overflow, from the spring rains, oh wouldn't it be nice if the water would stay this time!
And the frogs have all awakened from their winter's sleep, it sounds like summer!
Is there a best time to do this?  Like in the heat of summer when the pond is at its lowest?
Do you need to pump the water out?  A fork, not a sledge hammer?  Wow, glad I asked.
Chelle Lewis


Joined: Dec 10, 2009
Posts: 417
Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
    
    1
marina phillips wrote:
We're going to try this gley thing out, Chelle!  It makes sense that the pigs do this for you when they are confined to an area designated to turn into a pond at a later date.  But for small ponds seems it could work by hand.  6-9" is a LOT of manure though.  Geeze.  Wonder if it could be a few inches of manure and then another few inches of vegetable matter?  I feel the major advantage of gley is that pond plants would enjoy living in the nutrient rich bottom layer of gley.  The clay methods don't seem to add nutrients to the bottom of the pond in the same way a big thick layer of manure would. 
PLEASE give pics when you have some!  This is great! I have gobs of gley that is starting to show now as the river level falls... going to just use straight first on a small pond and see what happens... it must be gley... sure stinks enough from anaerobic breakdown.

My totally ignorant conjecture about the wall questions:  Seems gley only works where it is constantly wet.  I don't think you'd want a constantly wet and smelly wall.....right?     Just can't imagine how you'd keep a wall wet enough for two weeks to get the baterial slime, and then it seems it would just die as it dried out and the sealing properties would go away. 

Baby mammal poo (from animals that injest only milk - calf poo is the best I've been told) is supposed to be an excellent additive for the finish layer of wall mudding.  The lactose and casein in it make very long sticky protein chains that help resist cracking.  Clay/cob walls can be burnished with a smooth metal object (like a big spoon) to a very smooth shiny finish, and then oiled to resist water.  That's all the info I've got in that dept. 

Been pondering this too.... I know manure is used for flooring.... dries very hard and durable. Thought they maybe used it on walls too... and then sealed. I must admit I will have to be pretty desperate to try this though.

Chelle
Chelle Lewis


Joined: Dec 10, 2009
Posts: 417
Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
    
    1
Does a pig poo pond stink? Does it settle and clear? I want to do a really large pond this way... and put a cottage or 2 around.... and fish into pond.

Probably take some while for some pigs to get this right... the size I want.... they will have to live there day in and day out for some time but it would be so cool if I could do it.

Chelle
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14969
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I think pigs are not going to seal a pond with the glie/gley/glei technique.  At least, not without human help.  Pigs like to put their poop "over there" in a nice, tidy fashion.  So if you want pig poop to do the glie technique for a pond, you will have to go get it and put it in the pond.  And you probably will never have enough pigs to pull this off. 

HOWEVER!  There is a far, far easier way to use pigs to seal a pond.  Put them in the pond area and they will root and stomp and root and stomp and ...  the shape of their hooves do amazing things when it comes to sealing a pond.  So amazing, that a lot of farmers avoid putting pigs on any land that is having drainage trouble - cuz pigs will make it worse.

Cow poop would be a really good glie choice - but I wouldn't want to put a cow through that:  having to stand in that much poop. 

Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
Ozark Lady wrote:I am confused too.  A fork?  I would think you would want something to ram it.  Kind of like a rammed earth construction. 


My understanding is that if the soil can easily be rammed into a waterproof state, it is likely to have taken on that configuration just by sitting underwater. The fact that it still drains well suggests, to me, that there are large particles holding each other apart with their corners, and ramming would need to break off all of those corners if it were to work.

With the fork, you'd be gently persuading those corners to un-stick from their neighbor particles, so that any bits of fine silt or clay that had been stuck in between can all fall through and collect at the bottom, filling in the gaps of the very lowest layer that you are agitating (or maybe the layer just below that). It's very much like tamping concrete, if you've done that, but on a smaller scale: settling clay around sand, rather than sand around pea gravel.
Chelle Lewis


Joined: Dec 10, 2009
Posts: 417
Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
    
    1
paul wheaton wrote:HOWEVER!  There is a far, far easier way to use pigs to seal a pond.  Put them in the pond area and they will root and stomp and root and stomp and ...  the shape of their hooves do amazing things when it comes to sealing a pond.  So amazing, that a lot of farmers avoid putting pigs on any land that is having drainage trouble - cuz pigs will make it worse.

This is probably my best bet for a large area. Let the pigs do the work...... Start them off rooting and stomping around the deepest part and then maybe keep widening the fenced area for them to move around in ...... until it is moved up to where I want it. Will this pond stink?

Yes. From what I can understand the gley technique is just using the manure in with the greens ... and not the actual pigs. So is different.

Chelle
Seth Pogue


Joined: Feb 12, 2010
Posts: 81
Perhaps I'm missing something here - but since this design calls for lining the pond with 6"  of feces - why isn't anybody concerned about E. coli and other feces-borne pathogens ?
Chelle Lewis


Joined: Dec 10, 2009
Posts: 417
Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
    
    1
Interesting question.

The first obvious thought is that this would not be used as water for human drinking consumption.

But I think of how my tilapia (fish) feed happily on cow dung as well as the algae bloom it produces in the pond. Would the fish therefore carry e. coli? I have never heard of such. And this has been done for decades in some places.

I found this here.....

    * Is there a connection between E. coli and manure?
      “While not all manures carry E. coli, manure is a documented source of E. coli contamination and should thus be handled cautiously in a fresh produce production system. Well-composted manures are recommended over the use of raw manures.”
      (Source: Jasper Hempel, Food Safety Initiative Steering committee, California Certified Organic Farmers)   

    * What about E. coli and composted manure?
      “E. coli, salmonella, and other pathogens found in manure can be reduced by proper composting. Compost should be maintained at temperatures of 55-60 degrees C (130 –149 degrees F) for a period of several days—if possible up to two weeks (Droffner, et al, 1995). Composting reduces pathogens in several different ways. One way is by generating temperatures unfavorable to the undesirable organisms. Temperature increases during composting are the result of microbial metabolism. The temperatures generated have the benefit of reducing populations of many pathogenic organisms.”
      (Source: Organic Materials Review Institute Response to Docket Number: TMD-94-00-2, 199

      “Properly composted manure can be an effective and safe fertilizer. Uncomposted or improperly composted manure used as a fertilizer or soil amendment, or manure that enters surface waters, may contain pathogens and subsequently contaminate produce. Operators should carefully develop and follow good manure handling practices as a key to reducing the potential for pathogenic contamination of produce.”
      (Source:  “Industry-wide Guidance to Minimize Microbiological Food Safety Risks for Produce – United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association, 1997)   


Fresh pig dung is obviously... fresh.... not composted. Is it perhaps dried in the sun before filling and that changes something?

Sepp Holzer uses this system really effectively without health problems. I would love to hear his take on this. Would carry weight for me.

Chelle
Emerson White


Joined: May 02, 2010
Posts: 1206
Location: Alaska
Don't drink out of a new pond. If your pond is any kind of normal the E. coli will be out competed by the bacteria that live in the water.

E. coli O157:H7 is the big fear, but really the bacteria that you are trying to produce in the Gley process should be making a biofilm and sealing them in to starve over time. You shouldn't be drinking out of an open pond for other reasons (and I really mean this, it's a really bad idea) but it should be okay for irrigating the leafy greens in a few months time. And all the fish you catch out should be cooked anyways.
Chelle Lewis


Joined: Dec 10, 2009
Posts: 417
Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
    
    1
Thanks Emerson.

My concern would be for the fish and livestock drinking from the pond. I don't think I could ever wrap my head around drinking from such a pond... 

I think I will take your advice and not add fish or use for anything until it has matured out a bit.

Chelle
Rob Sigg


Joined: Feb 04, 2010
Posts: 710
Location: PA-Zone 6
OK so it has been over 4 weeks now that I have had grass clippings in my dugout pond area. Other than a small puddle in the very bottom it doesn’t seem to be holding much rain water, but I don’t know how much rain I would need to even show signs of filling. I really don’t want to get out the hose and use tap water, but I don’t have a rain barrel or anything yet. Im assuming I should be seeing some kind of response by now. The grass clippings are anywhere between 4 and 12”…loose of course and not compressed.

 
I agree. Here's the link: http://permies.com/battery
 
subject: Gley technique for sealing ponds and dams .... and walls?
 
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