Keyline Planning and Implementation Field Day

posted in: Champions, Field Days | 0

Keyline plowing is a method to improve both water infiltration and distribution at the landscape level. The method uses a Yeoman’s plow to create deep (20”) channels in the soil while limiting soil surface disturbance. Keyline plowing is part of a landscape design approach developed in Australia in the 1950s by P.A. Yeoman to address erosion and drought challenges. While it has been used extensively in other contexts, it has had limited application in our high elevation, semi-arid landscape.
⇒ Watch this video of prior keyline work in New Mexico that this workshop is built upon.

On Saturday, August 27 from 9:30 am – 5:00 pm, join us for a one-day workshop on Keyline planning, design and implementation at the C-B Ranch, located 8 miles north of Lindrith, NM. The workshop will provide an introduction to the mapping, design, and layout process and implementation of a 10-acre Keyline project. We will also address the use of consumer drones for creating detailed maps of project areas and discuss other strategies for creating drought adapted landscapes.

Participants will be provided lunch and an early dinner at the ranch.


  • 9:30am – 10:00am Sign-in, refreshments
  • 10:00am – 11:00am Introductions, Walking tour and project introduction
  • 11:00am – noon Applying Keyline concepts and tools to project design presentation/discussion
  • Noon-1pm Lunch (provided)
  • 1:00pm – 3:00pm Introduction to keyline tools (mapping with drones, using the laser level, the keyline plow, other)
  • 3:00pm – 4:00pm Pulling a few lines with Yeoman’s plow
  • 4:00pm – 5:00pm Dinner (light dinner provided)


  • Pants, long-sleeved shirt, closed-toed shoes, hat, sunglasses


  • sunscreen, water bottle, chair

This workshop is hosted in partnership with the New Mexico Healthy Soil Working Group and the Seeding Regenerative Agriculture Project. Funding for this free event is generously provided by the Santa Fe Community Foundation and the New Mexico Foundation. Many thanks to Cuba Soil and Water Conservation District for their support!


The C-B Ranch, located 7 miles north of Lindrith, NM, at 7000 feet, provides a site for turning ideas and theory into practice through experimenting with and demonstrating a variety of time tested and novel rangeland restoration practices. Our ultimate goal is to work with the land to help it become a productive, diverse drought adapted landscape.  Decades of overgrazing and plowing in the early part of the 20th century when the property was first homesteaded left the land exposed to extreme erosion. In the last decade, drought and a changing precipitation pattern (fewer, more intense storms) and porcupines have stressed old growth pinyon to the point where roughly 50% are now being killed by the bark beetle. To counter this changing environment, we are implementing a variety of strategies to retain as much water as possible where it falls through earth works and soil building on the property and enhance plant productivity and diversity. These measures include tree and sagebrush thinning, construction of earthworks (rolling dips, plug and spread) and simple rock structures (one rock dams). Applying keyline principles to slow down, spread and infiltrate water is a new activity for us that we are excited to learn about. 

Image courtesy of C-B Ranch

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