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  • Writer's pictureDavid Spicer

Permaculture Earthworks Course Portugal 2019

Updated: Jan 22, 2019



In the face of drought and desertification, well-designed water harvesting earthworks such as swales, ponds, and dams are the most effective way to channel water into productive use. The result can be increased food production, higher groundwater levels, reduced irrigation needs, reforestation and enhanced ecosystem resilience. Yet due to a lack of knowledge, designers, and landowners often build earthworks that are costly, inappropriately sized and sited, or even dangerous. This course will give you the knowledge and confidence to get your earthworks right, first time around. Our mission is to teach you the techniques to construct multi-functional ecologically diverse landscapes, aiding in the regeneration of the biosphere.


Smallholding, Agricultural, Tourism Or….

Earthworks construction can be a rewarding investment in your property. Enhancing the aesthetic appeal, functionality and value of your landscape are all realistic potential outcomes.This earthworks course is a hands-on course that will help you design and implement water harvesting strategies on your property. You will learn the theory and practice of Permaculture Earthworks – learning site design skills, surveying and directing earthmoving machines to establish dams, swales, terraces, access roads and more.

Some of the uses of a Water Landscape

Creating a water holding, or so called water retention space is of course, all about restoring the hydrological balance of our property. It is the first and most important step to having longterm sustainable yields while regenerating the earth. However, having to hire a machine to get your infrastructure right, doing this course to get the knowledge, can be quite an investment. However, the return on this investment may surprise you, as having a water landscape will and can serve multiple purposes (some of which may even create an extra income).

reverse the desertification process can serve as fire protection. Not only by creating a green zone barrier (lake & wetter area & trees) in the midst of fire, but also as water reservoir for the fire fighters (make sure it is accessible for their truck and let your local fire department know where it is located).prevents flooding and top soil rain a water reservoir for irrigation in times of droughts essential for soil restore and thus reforestation is a watering place for animals and creates biodiversity can be cultivated for water gardening can be used as a fishery (for self consumption, for direct sales, for your own restaurant, or as a fishing pond where people pay to rent the canes and fish. Or all combined. )cultivation of e.g. freshwater mussel or crayfish can be used to grow organic products around and sell can be used as part of a schooling program can be used as a swimming area for your own use or for tourism can be used as a recreational space for tourists, especially when bigger. Swimming, snorkling, stand up paddling, row boats, fishing etc.


Earthwork Course Objective

Students will understand the principles of permaculture design in earthworks: reading the site, interpreting contour maps and using surveying tools, placing elements in a design. Students will be able to use the basic terminology for earthworks and soil water management, resolve issues and work with contractors to direct earth movers in action.

Introduction To Permaculture Earthworks

Reason for earthworks and types of earthworks,

Earthwork elements and types of machines Learning how to use survey equipment; learning practical surveying and design of dams and swales

Learning how to direct earth movers Roads as water harvesters (hardware and software relationships)

Dams And Spillways

Design systems with multiple elements Specifics of dam construction and design issues Tour farm site to identify different elements on the farm Survey of dams. Break into groups for survey designs

Freeboard and spillways

Free board for dams and swales

Marking out level sill-spillways

Swales, diversion drains and gabions

Specifics of swales Integration of swales into a system including planting-up of the system Visit existing swale sites

Surveying of potential sites. Break into groups for survey designs

Diversion drains, for harvesting water to dams

Leaky weirs

Earth Banks

House Sites/Benches/Terraces

Access tracks/driveways/crossing pipes

Activity: Stability Plan-Ups and Erosion Control

Placing of swivel pipes and crossing pipes

Review Of Earthworks

Questions and answers from class

Miniature Earthworks Exercise by students

Completion of unfinished design projects with groups

For more information please click the link below



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