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The top swale

The top swale

Finally, after discovering and experimenting with swales for some time, I have rerouted the rainwater from the house roof to a newly created TOP SWALE. The new excavations run in a fairly straight line through the orchard and overflow into the recently reconfigured garden swales.
January 18, 2013
  rain  water  swale 
The way of the swale

The way of the swale

A swale is a permaculture technique designed to improve water catchment and retention on slopes. Applicable to varying scales, a swale is basically a ditch or terrace created along a contour line with the removed soil piled on the downhill side. As rainwater drains down the slope above is is caught and absorbed by the swale. Plantings made along the swale will have access to additional moisture for extended period.

My first attempt at a small swale follows the contour line on a northwest facing slope below an existing track. Because of the small size I was able to dig this by hand over 2 periods, using an A-frame level. Over the course of the next few months we will be scattering the kitchen scraps along the length for the chooks to work over, adding their manure and nutrients from the kitchen. Finally it will be planted up in a variety of different plants from ground covers, bulbs and shrubs to fruit and firewood trees.
June 12, 2011
Harvesting rain

Harvesting rain

It's raining today (as they said it would) and it's bloody marvellous. As a free resource, rain should be collected or focussed for use in the right spots at the right time.
One of my processes includes home made guttering, a bath, and an overflow pipe
March 05, 2011
  rain  water 
Water smart design and land use

Water smart design and land use

Plan for dry and survive drought with carefully designed and implemented rainwater catchment systems built directly into the landscape. Three core elements to mitigating the effects and impact of drought:
  1. Identify and intercept water flows to keep moisture on the landscape
  2. Improve soils ability to absorb and retain water
  3. Reduce the impact of hot, dry winds
Find out how simple land use patterns and strategic planting can achieve all these benefits and more.
  water  rain  land  farm  service 
Visualising yearly rainfall distribution

Visualising yearly rainfall distribution

This chart shows annual rainfall by month for the years 1990 - 2014 (and partial 2015). While there is a definite tenancy for rain to occur in June and July there is also obvious bumps in October, March and April. Wider areas of colour represent times of high rainfall while narrow regions are dryer.
It becomes clear that rainfall can occur at any time throughout the year and that dry years follow periods high rainfall. With this in mind it makes a lot of sense to be approaching water catchment and management with a multi year view of charging up soil moisture during wet times to carry us through periods of below average rainfall.

Data obtained from NIWA Ferniherst dataset
September 20, 2015
  weather  rain  climate  chart 
A bespoke rain gauge

A bespoke rain gauge

Our high tech, digital rain gauge device finally failed and rather than replace it with another complex 'solution' I decided to construct a more basic, traditional instrument, only on a larger scale. Essentially this is just a funnel that intercepts and collects a given area of rainfall and concentrates it in a narrow tube, magnifying the results for easy measuring.

I purchased a cheap stainless steel funnel with a diameter of 52mm connected to 2 meters of clear plastic tubing with a diameter of 12.5mm.
The ratio of cross-sectional area between the two diameters is 17 so each 1mm of rainfall gathered by the funnel displays as 17mm in the tubing.

The tap at the bottom is required to drain the gauge after each measuring period.
August 25, 2019
  rain  technology  zone1