Drought-stricken farmers usually have two choices: take a deep breath and wait or go to town.
Swale drainage is a simple, cheap way to manage water — no digging, no chemicals and no mess. The dry-draining system can help you become drought resistant without any major changes in the way you farm.
If you’re in a situation where you’re on a drought and need to start using swale drains, here are five benefits that can help your farming in the long run:
What are Swale Drains?
A swale drain is a shallow channel that captures stormwater runoff from an upland area and directs the flow of water toward drainage areas such as ponds, streams, wetlands and storm drains. These drains are created by digging a slight trench along the contour of the land and filling it with gravel or other materials.
Concrete drain at EARTHLOK look like elongated ditches in the ground, but they’re not as deep as regular trenches. This makes them appear more aesthetically pleasing than traditional trenches and helps reduce erosion from excessive water flow.
They save water
Rainfall is the most important factor in your ability to grow crops. It’s not possible for you to control the weather, but you can control how much water you use and how much gets lost when it rains. Trenching alone uses 30% of the irrigation water you’d use with seepage alone. And when rain doesn’t fall quickly enough, seepage systems can waste up to 75% of their potential water supply.
Droughts can also occur when there’s a lack of adequate water in rivers, lakes and other bodies of water. Landlocked cities that depend on rivers don’t have much water available to them, whereas larger cities with their own reservoirs use up much less water than people think.
But even if you’re not limited by a shortage of water, it’s still important to keep an eye on your reservoir levels. Swale Drains is a motion-activated irrigation system that waters plants automatically over an eight-hour period. It uses sensors to detect how much moisture is in your soil and plants all around you so it can deliver just enough water to keep everything green and healthy.
A swale works like a filter in reverse. The water runs off through the gutter drain and into the soil, where it’s absorbed by the plants. It’s important to keep the soil moist so that when rainfall occurs, you’ll be able to absorb most of it through the ground rather than having it run off and wash out into lakes or creeks — particularly if you’re in a drought-prone area.
The best way to understand how swales work is to think about them as underground ditches that collect water during rainstorms but let it flow back into the soil when it’s dry. The rainwater drains down through the bottom of the ditch and makes its way toward the contour of the land in a controlled way so that it will drain away slowly enough to prevent flooding.
Swale drainage is a method that works well on many types of land, especially those with irregular shapes — such as fields — or with uneven terrain. It’s a good idea to install swales on all your fields anyway, because they work well on all kinds of land (including grassland).
Swale drains prevent water damage to your home’s foundation
The only thing that stands between your home and the ground is its foundation. Over time, this can cause water damage problems, especially during periods of heavy rain or snow melt. This is especially true if you live in an area prone to flooding or with high groundwater levels. Swale drains help prevent this by directing the flow away from your foundation before it has a chance to cause any damage.
They’re easy to clean
A swale drain is only as effective as its ability to handle water. If it gets clogged with trash, unless you’re willing to clean out your swale drain, you’ll lose its ability to divert water. Fortunately, cleaning out your swale drain is easy, especially if you have one made of concrete. The flat surface makes removing debris simple. All you have to do is rake out any dirt and leaves that have built up in the swale throughout the year and give it a thorough rinse with a hose. Swales made of grass are also easy to clean because they don’t hold debris in place. Any trash that builds up can be removed with a rake or broom.