Keyline Plowing

The Barefoot Farmer

Water winds its way downhill, seeking its own level. The Long Hungry Creek swells mightily after a big rain. Lack of moisture in the dry spell limits agricultural production. An obvious question arises, „How can we keep the water that falls on our farms for later use?”
Lateral trenches along the contour come to mind. If the water running down the hill during thundershowers could get caught in a ditch and go sideways at a slower pace, more would soak into the soil. This would work even better when the soil has a higher humus content.
A.P. Yeomans, an Australian farmer, developed a method of contour tillage known as Keyline plowing. A point is chosen on the side of a hill, farthest from either holler. A level line is made along the contour through that point, and its called the keyline. It may drop at a 1% slope towards that…

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