Applied Watershed Restoration: choosing some sites

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So it’s only 2 weeks until Australia’s first EVER Applied Watershed Restoration course, which is happening at Milkwood Farm (and is FarmReady approved. And will be incredible. Ok, end pitch… but you really would be crazy not to join us).

Like many farms with fragile soils, Milkwood Farm has many examples of small-scale erosion – in our case, a legacy from previous landholders. I went looking for typical examples that we could use as part of the course. I have never been so excited about photographing erosion.

The first site we’ll be using is a small (just under 1m high) headcut in a sloping meadow. This is a paddock that has seen decades of overgrazing until Nick’s family moved here 10 years ago, and has been largely rested since then.

This is a prime example of a meadow actively ‘unzipping’ as a result of this headcut eroding its way uphill. If left alone, this headcut would probably gradually travel up the meadow, leaving a gash through the meadow that would effectively drain the topsoil down the the base level of the gash.

Not good if you’re trying to build life and hold water in your landscape.

Depending on what Craig Sponholtz decides, we may use a range of soultions, which might include:

The second site may be this headcut which is in a much steeper gully, just uphill from the site of our first zuni bowl erosion repair which we did with Tamara Gadzia in November 2011. This headcut is a bigger project, but would be worth attending to if we can, for the same reasons as the first erosion example.

We may also be building some media lunas, a feature sometime used uphill from headcuts in order to direct water towards or sometimes away from various erosion repair further downstream. We’ll see what happens when Craig gets here and does a survey.

The zuni bowl we built in November 2011, working well and ensuring that particular headcut goes no further...
Water trickling into the zuni bowl. This water now falls on to rock, not fragile soil, and the specific design of the zuni bowl ensures that even in a big rain event, run-off will not erode this gully further...

Lastly, if anyone wants to join us for this course, please do. It’s great training for any permaculture designer serious about whole farm planning, water harvesting and re-hydrating damaged landscapes. Or for any farmer looking to keep water on their property using gentle, effective, human scale techniques…

This is the first time this course has been offered in Australia and may be a unique opportunity to learn watershed restoration from this world-leading practitioner… for the rest of you, we will take lots of photos and do some interviews with Craig while he’s here to spread the knowledge, as well as learn all that we can…

>> Applied Watershed Restoration: 3-5 April: Milkwood Farm, Mudgee NSW

This course is FarmReady approved. Australian farmers, primary producers, land managers and their families may be eligible for a 65% reimbursement of course costs, and travel and accommodation costs also. Go to our FarmReady page for more information.

** psst: Queenslanders, Craig is also teaching a course up your way as part of his trip…

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4 responses to “Applied Watershed Restoration: choosing some sites

  1. Once again, I have to say you guys rock! For a newbie urbanite permie like me, that second picture of land erosion and the note about land unzipping uphill is priceless information that went ka-chinnng in my head!

  2. In my opinion, there’s nothing in the environment that says “This land is in trouble” than an erosion gully; even the ecologically illiterate can see that.

    For anyone out there who’s just starting out on their land repair path, this course will give you heaps of confidence and some human scale tools to get major results in a short space of time.

    I love soaking up info from the best in the field and look forward to seeing you there!

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