For the permaculture enthusiasts out there

This is looking like an interesting video from Verge Permaculture (It’s long and I’m only just into it). It’s about the benefits of swales in dry climates. We should be doing more of this in Australia.

From the notes below the video (read the rest, too) :

Rob and Takota explore the Tucson swales, an “oasis” in the deserts outside of Tucson, created in the dirty 30’s as part of a Federal make work project, and the swales are still functioning today! Take a detailed video tour of this amazing swale, and learn how to maximize available water even in an extremely dry climate.

Searching for Bill Mollison: Exploring the Tucson swales


2 Responses to “For the permaculture enthusiasts out there”

  1. Chris Says:

    I was first introduced to this amazing earthworks of the Great Depression era, from Geoff Lawton. His video was shorter, but didn’t go into the level of detail these presenters did. Overall I appreciated the more detail and proposed strategies for improving the design.

    I disagreed slightly on where to intervene, though. They implied the general consensus was to start higher up the watershed, to reduce erosion. If if I was spending money on fuel however, to increase productivity in the desert, I’d start at the site the resources were already collecting. A hundred years worth of collateral.

    I’d want to join the existing swales (there were multiple) to really jumpstart the ecology in the desert system, faster. Starting higher up the watershed, only becomes necessary, if there’s evidence the existing swales are being compromised. They seem to have survived relatively well, in a hundred years though.

    In Australia, we used to have Billabongs – as referenced by the research Peter Andrews has found from early explorers. Which interestingly, mirror the horseshoe design of the swale in Tucson. They were a series of interconnected ponds which spanned so wide, early explorers took days to get around them. Some even wrote, they feared entering the thickness of the reeds, in case they couldn’t find their way out again.

    So there is evidence, these kinds of interconnected, water catchment systems work, extremely well in Australia. They were our original (indigenous) watcher catchment system. Until Europeans arrived, and started draining all the systems for less swamp like land to farm. Crazy, right? We can say that now, in hindsight.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. foodnstuff Says:

    I thought you’d like that Chris, in fact I had you in mind when I posted it 🙂

    I was only just into it when I posted it and left it to finish reading later. I was amazed at how much I’d forgotten about permaculture design and the rules concerning water retention in the landscape. I must get back to Mollison’s book and I also have the one they mentioned, by Brad Lancaster.

    I didn’t really have any opinions about their recommendations, but yours seem pretty sensible. The growth around the swales compared to that outside was evidence that they are still working well. I notice they recommended planting a few mangoes. That would be interesting!

    I’ll definitely watch it again, although at the moment we have quite enough water in the landscape here! The flat spots where it has pooled have given me some ideas about where to put more retention basins.

    Thanks for the comments.


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