Here we have a A-typical climate example at Finca Yantza at the edge of the amazonas region in Ecuador. Most of the year too much rain. Too much water. Lot’s of challenges with erosion and high difficulty of access with very steep hills.
Access-path with Vetiver and Arachis Pintoi
So to improve this we have implemented something like access path (ACAP) in conjunction with Vetiver grass on the falling hill side and additionally been planting Perennial Peanut (Arachis Pintoi) to first or foremost cover the top soil.
Photo Bird-View: Adaptive Contour Access Path on steep hill in tropical climate
With our very humid climate, the permaculture swale approach make no sense. Here it’s not about the classic water harvesting. Our focus at Finca Yantza on the steep hill, in the amazonas region is clearly about:
- Slowing down the water flow (lots of tropical rainfall)
- Reducing erosion on a micro and macro level
- Enabling better manual access to the crops (Soursop fruit can get up to 15kg in weight!)
- Improving the soil quality with nitrogen fixing plants like Arachis Pintoi and Vetiver grass
To be honest ideally we should of have build first the access path on contour lines and then plant the crops also on contour hight. But hey … we are learning on the hard way here 🙂
This is why we call this “Adaptive Contour”.
Using contour plantings such as vetiver grass to hold soil on steep hillsides with crops integrated between rows of contours.
As you can see on the image we have two keyline points / water holes which flow into a pond to store the water. Along this creek we have planted lots of bamboo to again slow down the water flow and increase soil quality with the bamboo root system and bamboo leafs which are a great source of nitrogen.
Also you can see the very green spot – there we initially planted the Arachis Pintoi – its so green because it has already spread very well there. on the left side you side that it is still growing and needs some more time to get to the same level of green. On the left side you can see there is no Arachis Pintoi yet, so we will need to transplant it there too within the next rainy season.
If you look closely you can see where the excess water from the saddle dam is traveling down into the valley towards the pond where the grass is greener and vetiver grasses have been planted. Currently its summer so we cant do any transplanting.
Example of a hill with slope also using Contour Hedgerows. Using contour plantings such as vetiver grass to hold soil on steep hillsides with crops integrated between rows of contours.
Vetiver grass = Vetiver is native to India and is one of the best management practices to control erosion. This non-fertile, non-invasive perennial grass as a dense web of roots that binds soil and penetrates vertically to 15 meters.
Arachis pintoi is a forage plant native to Cerrado vegetation in Brazil. It is native to the valleys of the upper São Francisco and the Jequitinhonha rivers of Brazil.
Keyline = Keyline design is a landscaping technique of maximizing the beneficial use of the water … of Yeomans’ Keyline design system is the Keyline Scale of Permanence ( KSOP), which was the outcome of 15 years of adaptive experimentation.
Swale = A swale is a low tract of land, especially one that is moist or marshy. … Artificial swales are often infiltration basins, designed to manage water runoff, filter pollutants, and increase rainwater infiltration.
Contour line = In cartography, a contour line (often just called a “contour”) joins points of equal elevation (height) above a given level, such as mean sea level. A contour map is a map illustrated with contour lines, for example a topographic map, which thus shows valleys and hills, and the steepness or gentleness of slopes.