In spring of 2017, Boulder Mountain Guest Ranch began its keyline project… Our mission is to restore desert grasslands, helping water flow where it needs to go and healthy soil to grow.
What is Keylining?
A founding concept in permaculture design, P.A. Yeoman’s Keyline is a technique for maximizing beneficial use of water resources of a piece of land. The Keyline refers to a specific topographic feature linked to water flow. Beyond that however, Keyline can be seen as a collection of design principles, techniques and systems for development and reconstruction of rural and urban landscapes.
Why Keylining with Yeoman’s plow is so good?
This low impact plow design along with mindful, holistic Keyline technique, customizes a landsculpting treatment for each individual geotopographical environmental system.
Keyline is an agricultural system in which great emphasis is placed on processes designed to increase substantially the fertility of soils. Emphasis is placed on the creation of a soil environment that rapidly accelerates soil biological activity, thus vastly increasing the total organic matter content within the soil.
Yeoman’s Plow at BMGR
BMGR purchased the Yeoman’s plow in the fall of 2016 from Pacific Organics. Our plow was customized with additional features…compost tea injectors, a colter wheel and a roller. It is a 10ft plow with 7 shanks that has a range of adjustments which allows the shanks to penetrate as far down as 26 inches under the soil surface.
Our first endeavor with the newly purchased Yeoman’s plow was in May 2017. Prior to the subsurfacing, three tests were done on the land. First a compression test was completed in which we were only able to go 1.5 inches deep with a 150 pounds of pressure, too compacted for roots to be established. Secondly, a mineral test which revealed high sodium (result of using commercial fertilizers from the previous owners). Lastly a biology test, the results were as we expected, little to none.
Owen Hablutzel, a Holistic Land Management Consultant and Permaculture Design Instructor, visited the Ranch to assist and instruct on the initial use of the Yeoman’s plow.
Owen also consulted on the plan for the key lining contours on the first pasture using a rotary laser which helps identify contour lines. Owen spoke about the Yeoman’s plow and key lining at a demonstration workshop on our first “test” pasture, which many local landowners attended.
Over the late summer and fall there have been 50 acres of land that has been key lined, over 900 gallons of compost tea injected and 600 lbs of native seed distributed. We have created 2 test areas one with both compost tea injection and seed distribution and one with just key lining.
Within a few weeks planted seeds began to appear….We are anxiously awaiting the compiled results we expect to see in the spring of 2018.