After a 12 day Permaculture Design Course (and sometimes before) students are usually keen to dive deeper with their knowledge and perhaps gain some on the ground experience in a Permaculture Earthworks Course. These types of course are specialist permaculture courses and pave the way for learning the finer details in earthworks such as: detailed area of catchment, times to install earthworks, contour marking and pegging, how to use the equipment, etc…
Type 1 errors can be classified as errors that if not done properly will cost quite a bit of money to fix. There are only a few type 1 errors in permaculture and one of them is earthworks. Over the past few years I have had the pleasure of working with many types of equipment operators that range widely in education, background, skill level, and personality type. And chances are (as of this writing) most equipment operators hired will not be trained in permaculture earthworks. It is imperative (especially if working on a client’s property) that both you and the equipment operator have very effective communication.
Things to keep in mind when working with heavy equipment operators:
- Have the mindset that you want to build a relationship with him or her
- Just because they are behind a bulldozer all day does not mean he of she is not educated
- Always cut a pilot hole (or three) on property to know what you are getting into
- Do a basic drawing of the earthworks that are being installed
- Draw basic close up diagrams of the chosen techniques (ponds, swales, gabions, keyline plowing, etc…)
- Take their recommendations seriously, they use the machines all day every day. As long as it fits the design
- You and the operator are working in tandem (he is the hand that holds the paintbrush of your artwork)
- They are most likely local and probably know the soil – ask questions and gather knowledge of the site
- Fast installation is cheaper but messy – slow them down when needed
- On the other hand slow work is expensive – speed them up when needed
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