Building the Keyline plan

P.A. Yeomans, developed a farm irrigation plan in the 1950′s on his farm Yobarnie, in Australia that he dubbed the Keyline Design. Each site’s unique topography and geography inform the proper Keyline site layout and planning.

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Yeomans’ big idea: Keep the water as high as possible for as long as possible, through a system of interconnected ponds, level on-contour berms, and diversion berms that pull water out of valleys and onto ridges.

From January to March of 2013, Doyle Moore and his crew from Central Texas Excavation  aided Upcycle in building 120 acres of Keyline Design to harvest the approximately 4 million gallons of potential runoff that this acreage looses every year given an average of 34 inches of precipitation.

All total over 3 miles of water harvesting earth berm were built, approximately 1 meter tall by 2 meters wide, and 6 ponds of varying sizes were nested into the hill sides.

January 2013                                                        May 2013


January                                                                    May


Before                                                                       After


Before                                                                      After



4 inches of rain fell in a day and provided us with proof existence of the operations of the Keyline plan. Water remained onsite to slowly infiltrate through soil layers to hydrate soil and raise the water table.


The Keyline plan is an elegant solution to building healthy soils. All in all it took about two weeks of surveying and then the machines arrived. The Keyline plan has great potential to rehydrate our arid lands and reverse the desertification processes. The cost of earth works well pays for itself a hundred times over as it is a regenerative relic that will last for generations.

Thank you to the many great friends who came to help with the tedious days of surveying and to Doyle, Justin, Jonathan, and Jay for all your great work with big beautiful machines.


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