Design Criteria

Mark Shepard’s field manual for hydrological restoration on any farm.

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Since the three part series that Nick and I recorded about the vast array of drought mitigation and recovery solutions for people in different living situations we’ve gotten a lot of follow up questions from listeners who want to go deeper into this subject. 

Luckily one of my friends and mentors who’s had an outsized influence on my educational journey and inspiration to work with farmers and land managers in helping them to make the most of the water resources has just come out with a new book. 

Many of you know Mark Shepard for his seminal book, Restoration Agriculture, I’ve also had him on this show in the past to talk about his previous book Water for Every Farm. Most recently I spoke about Mark a lot with Jake Takiff when he and I went to design and install a water retention landscape in Nicaragua as representatives of Mark’s company Restoration Agriculture Design. 

That brings us up to this point where Mark has just released the field manual to accompany the book Water for Every Farm which is intended to assist any designer or practitioner with the engineering specifications for various water retention features and earthworks. These will not only help you to ensure proper due diligence but also to navigate the jargon and regulations, specifically in the USA, that the USDA and army corps of engineers uses in order to better communicate and perhaps even find support from those entities.
In this chat Mark and I explore the details of his masterline system and how it can be adapted to the needs of modern farmers at any scale. We also explore the flexibility of the design system to be relevant for diverse and complex topographies. 

For me it was also important to explore the topic of long term maintenance for earthworks and water retention features since so much emphasis is put on the design and installation, and then, due to poor maintenance planning, the project can be quickly degraded or even fall apart. With someone with over 30 years of experience, this is an essential aspect to consider.

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