Joya: ecology systems / swale construction / (part one)

 

Here at Joya: AiR (Cortijada Los Gázquez) we have initiated a long held plan to start restoring the agricultural land that we own within the Parque Natural Sierra María Los Vélez.

This starts with the construction of two concentric 'swales' and 'berms' around the residency built on perfect contour...

 
 

To build a swale and a berm big enough to achieve its aims in this alpine desert climate we are estimating that the construction needs to be 1 m deep by 2 m wide. The berm is just under a meter high. To build on contour we use an A frame with a spirit level attached...

 

We marked with canes each step of the A frame keeping the two legs at all times level. There were idiosyncrasies with the line for irregular bums but these were ironed out afterwards. To check the level of the line we used an altimeter set to a very fine setting to confirm the accuracy of our circles...

 A frame in action...

A frame in action...

 

The next step is to bring in a heavy excavator to dig the hard clay and sedimentary limestone. As the excavator proceeded along the line we had mapped we also checked the accuracy of the excavation with the A frame (you can see it in the image).

 checking the accuracy of the contoured excavation with the A frame...

checking the accuracy of the contoured excavation with the A frame...

 

The purpose of the swale and berm is to put the brakes on any water run off, capturing the water in the swale, creating a small underground water resource...

 

The next steps are to finish the swales with a rake and hoe, checking the levels all the time. After this they are to be seeded with native plants such as aromatics, grasses and perennials to hold on to the earth structure avoiding erosion.

Will be back soon with an update...