Tropical Swales

Cdub44February 5, 2014


Anyone in the humid tropics ?
Making a move to some steep-ish land in Panama and wondering if swales/terraces might catch TOO much water during eh rainy season and lead to slumping.... I'm told it's hard to fathom the amount of rain that falls without experiencing it firsthand and equally hard to fathom how dry it gets 5months later ! Looking for ways sustain humid soils through the dry season... Thanks !

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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

Go crazy.

Here is a link that might be useful: Farming like the Inca

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 10:52PM
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bart_2010(8/9 Italy)

My property here in Tuscany is on a very steep slope. I just recently discovered the whole concept of swales, and am anxious to build a few small ones in my garden to improve soil,etc. (I have no running water in this large rose garden).But I am a little confused about the need for using a level: since my slope is already so steep and irregular, can I get away with just creating terraces ,"eyeballing it", as it were? The area in discussion is one that I am obliged to fatten up by bringing in soil and organic matter,so it's not like I'm going to be digging on a flat, hard surface; I will be obliged to bring in the soil to create the berms.Frankly it seems a bit like using a precision instument to measure how much soap one needs to take a shower,lol...any comments to help? thanks, bart

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 5:44AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

No matter what, you are going to end up using a level because at some point you will put water in the swale and you will make adjustments based on that. That said, I don't recommend eyeballing it. Get it right the first time. There are many simple ways to find level or precise slopes. Once you know how to use them, you have the power to really control drainage on your property. I think this is even more critical on steep slopes because the margin of error on steep slopes is so much smaller.

How steep is this slope we are talking about? 1 horizontal : 1 vertical (100% slope) is about the maximum stable slope most soils will hold.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 2:18PM
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bart_2010(8/9 Italy)

Thank you so much, nil13, for your clear and sensible reply. Sadly, I don't know how to measure and express in words the nature of the slope in question; Googling "angles",I'd say it's around a 33 degree angle...does that say anything? bart

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 3:55AM
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