Rocket Mass Heater podcast gob
will be released to subscribers in: soon!
Our 12th kickstarter is launching soon!
To get the earlybird goodies, click "notify me on launch" HERE.
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • r ranson
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Leigh Tate
  • paul wheaton
  • Greg Martin
master gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Jay Angler
  • John F Dean
  • Nancy Reading
  • Beau Davidson
  • thomas rubino
  • Edward Norton

Swales in ancient fields

Posts: 165
Location: Slovakia
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm going to be building swales in our field with a rotary plow, I guess in a month or two depending on weather. Our fields are land that was in my wifes family as well as some adjoining fields we bought. I have a surveying level, so finding contours isn't a problem, except for one thing. Fields here were originally long and narrow, and in the case of our fields where I want to make the swales, the long direction is pretty much going from up at the top of the ridge to down. The way they were plowed, over centuries I guess, means that each narrow field-strip is higher in the center and lower at the edges, with a difference of 1-2+ feet (more on strips that have trees and thus didn't get plowed much by tractors). So this means my field has the equivalent of 8 or so ditches running downhill.

How do I account for this with swales? Do I just dig down deeper in the center of the field-strips until the bottom of the swale is level?

I'm attaching a sort of map showing our overall property. The brown-dashed lines around the perimeter are property lines, and the dotted brown lines inside show these field-boundaries. The yellow line is approximately the top of the ridge, to the right of it is gently sloping downward, but is fairly flat to the road. The slashed area is about 1/2 acre that I will be planting corn, potatoes, pumpkins and other things that won't need much attention, but hopefully will benefit from the extra sun at the top of the ridge vs down in the bottom of the valley near our house.

Some photos of the field. These rises and ditches are best visible in the photo with the power lines, as that shows some of these field-strips that weren't plowed because they have/had cherry trees, but was cleared under the power lines. Google Photo Album
[Thumbnail for field_conception_map.png]
Rocket Scientist
Posts: 3850
Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Swales don't have to be dead straight. You could zigzag them gently to keep on the contours. That would require less digging and minimize steep slopes above and below the swales.
If a regular clown is funny, then a larger clown would be funnier. Math. Verified by this tiny ad:
Work Trade for the 2023 Garden Master Course
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic