Welcome! Log In Create A New Account

Advanced

laying out curved rows

Posted by Michael Phillips 
laying out curved rows
March 01, 2016 11:38AM
Trees curving across the contour would make for a sweet layout in this cider orchard I'll be helping put in the end of April. The two planned access lanes divide the field into thirds so it's also possible to lay the rows out straight in each section and still stay somewhat true to the contour. The longest row across the middle of this planting will be just under 600 feet, fitting 36 trees at a 16 foot spacing, divided into thirds by the access lanes.

I've laid out a fair share of straight-row orchards and have a good carpenter's eye for keeping trees in line. Being systematic about laying out curved rows is doable but I'm looking for insights from anyone who has done this. All told this orchard will have about 800 trees when its completely planted. The downhill slope falls away to both sides but there's a clear view of the whole from any point.

Lost Nation Orchard
Zone 4b in New Hampshire
Re: laying out curved rows
March 01, 2016 01:17PM
Tell me whether this relevant: In my youth I ended up in Algeria in the immediate aftermath of a very destructive war of independence. I was dropped into a project aimed at reforesting the hillsides, which required laying out 63,000 trees across the contours in such a manner that we avoided straight channels for the rain to flow uninterrupted down the slope. (We planted the last 60,000 in the 3 weeks before the fall rains started, thanks to a brilliant speech by the mayor, in the Saturday market, mobilizing the entire community to turn out and plant trees to "prevent the rains from washing away the blood of the martyrs who had sacrificed their lives on these hills for our freedom". But I digress..)

The basic premise was to make a long cord, with alternating coloured ribbons at the row spacing. This cord was then stretched from the top of the slope, vertically down, and a stake, marking the hole, planted at each white ribbon. The cord was then moved over at the top end by half the tree spacing, and again stretched vertically down, before planting a marker at the red ribbons. This results in the tree spacing expanding or contracting as one proceeds down a curved surface slope. When, (and if) the spacing became excessively wide toward the bottom, the cord was stretched from half-way between two places at the top, vertically down, and at the point where the spacing became excessively wide, the process of inserting alternating coloured markers resumed. End result, neat rows horizontally across the hillsides, following the contours, somewhat varying spacing, within defined limits, but no problem of washing out by torrents down the hillside. (The alternative is to physically terrace the hillside. But this is an enormous project, especially without any machinery whatsoever - we had nothing but picks and shovels and patriotic bodies)

Broomholm Orchard
Zone 5b in Nova Scotia
Re: laying out curved rows
March 01, 2016 02:03PM
I'd actually like to hear more about your planting adventure in Algeria. It sounds amazing and adds so much. If it isn't appropriate then PM me please.

One other request. If possible, please post a sketch of your layout method. I haven't a square foot of level ground on our farm.

You too Michael, please. It's hard to imagine with words alone. Thanks!

Paul Goettlich
Rockin' Rooster Ranch
Coquille, OR
Sunset Zone 5
USDA Zone 9a



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/01/2016 02:04PM by Paul Goettlich.
Re: laying out curved rows
March 01, 2016 04:19PM
I have to chime in to second Paul's interest David. Maybe a new thread. That is a powerful image, a community leader mobilizing a people to do something positive. Reminds one of that oft quoted line from Jean Giono :

"it struck me that men could be as effective as God in domains other than destruction."
Re: laying out curved rows
March 01, 2016 07:08PM
Yeah. But all I want to know are thoughts on how to best lay out curves on somewhat undulating topography. David's add of spacing knots along a rope addresses the spacing aspect brilliantly. Next up is making curves parallel. Someone out there knows something. Then again, maybe we just need to bring in an Algerian engineer.

Signing off.
A guy hoping to keep this post to task.

Lost Nation Orchard
Zone 4b in New Hampshire
Re: laying out curved rows
March 01, 2016 07:47PM
I obviously failed to explain entirely clearly. The rope is stretched vertically down the slope, (from top to bottom), in a line following where a river straight down the slope would flow. The alternating knots permit a staggering of the trees between rows, so as to break such straight lines of flow. The rope is moved across the top of the slope in a straight horizontal line, and hence each row, (as defined by either red or white ribbon) is equally straight and horizontal. The resulting pattern of trees is a checkerboard, rather than a grid, but the lines of trees across the slope are all parallel with each other, and the laneways are all of a uniform width across the slope. Depending on how steep the slope is, this could constitute a problem for stability of tractors driven across the hillside, (certainly safer to go up and down hills than across), but the only solution I have to that goes back to heavy duty earth moving to create more horizontal terracing. (It wasn't a problem in Algeria, because we had nothing even remotely akin to a tractor, and the few donkeys and goats were not concerned with falling over.)

In terms of posting a larger account of tree planting in North Africa, I agree with Michael - it does not belong here. It could logically be put in the Just Talk forum, but I am unsure as to whether this is straying away beyond the interests of this community. (I wouldn't burden you all with ruminations on antique spinning wheels, (a subject upon which I could wax eloquent and at length, because it has nothng to do with holistic orcharding. Aleppo pines are perhaps more relevant, because it involved finding trees which would tolerate the highly acidic shale soil and adverse climatic conditions, subjects which might have some relevance here, as this area was once planted to extensive olive groves.). What say you? Post on the Just Talk, or confine it to PMs to interested individuals?

Broomholm Orchard
Zone 5b in Nova Scotia



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/05/2016 06:10AM by Michael Phillips.
Re: laying out curved rows
March 02, 2016 05:06AM
Just Talk is the right place, David. Tree stories and regenerative healing of the land suit perfectly.

I can see using a central curve in a layout as the reference point for parallel sweeps either up slope or down. This seems a little intense but a definite way to check key points marked by stakes.

Lost Nation Orchard
Zone 4b in New Hampshire
Re: laying out curved rows
March 03, 2016 08:18PM
Michael,
When laying out out my orchard with a hexagonal layout, I used a 'jig' made of 3 stakes with 19 ft of string between them. This formed an equilateral triangle. By keeping two of the stakes set at all times I could move around the field and mark where I wanted to plant trees. Although this orchard was fairly flat (for East Tennessee ha!) I did notice my rows following slight contours. This makes sense because there is no 'sighting' or long stretches of string involved. I haven't thought it all the way through, but I think you should be able to use the same concept by creating a right triangle 'jig' based on your 16 by ? layout.

Roan Highlands Farm 6b, Roan Mountain, TN elevation: 3200 ft.
Re: laying out curved rows
March 05, 2016 06:28AM
This jig sounds like a nice way to check the next curve and get tree positions aligned across rows. Let's see if I got it: Spacing is 16 x 24 feet thus the hypotenuse of a right-angle triangle with legs those lengths would be 28 feet 9 inches. Thus the full length of the rope would need to be just under 69 feet.

We can mark distance between rows down the middle access lanes and on the far ends with a stake. This is where a "Algerian rope" could be used to mark distance between rows . . . or a long tape measure . . . as these stake points are on a straight line. A first curved row gets laid out across the middle of the slope that's pleasing to the eye, probably with a vibrant colored climbing rope. There are markings on this rope to show the spacing between trees (measured with the tape before the rope gets laid out to avoid the difficulty of needing to accommodate a slight curve in process.) Apex points along the next curve - midway between stakes - can now be checked with the "right angle jig" so as to get trees aligned as well as keep the curves parallel. This will work given several people to man the ropes.

Lost Nation Orchard
Zone 4b in New Hampshire
Re: laying out curved rows
March 05, 2016 07:21AM
That would work. I suppose it should be specified that the more free flowing method using only the jig requires. 1) a solid reference point for your first row. Maybe an access road or clearly delineate base of the slope in this case. If nothing natural is available, you would have to mark off this first reference line as you mentioned. 2) It assumes trees are directly across from each other between rows. Not sure what the doctrine is here, but even if you wanted to stagger your trees you could make an 8 ft mark on the 16 ft length to mark trees on the adjacent row. 3) Yes, to keep the process from being too slow to bear, you would want one person (heavily supplied with hole marking devices) on each stake of your triangle. This allows for rapid movement and means each corner stake never has to be driven into the ground.
Re: laying out curved rows
March 07, 2016 07:41AM
The ancient Egyptians, and perhaps Algerians, would have used a water level. You could try sections of garden hose spliced together with see through pipe, filled halfway with water and laid out across the hill would give you a pretty realistic level contour; albeit at a snails pace. Got monies? Laser level. Yup, it is going to cost you 500 to a grand, but you will be able to follow the contour quick and easy, not to mention uber precisely and you get another tool to carpenter with. I might even consider with the laser level to approach the layout like a tile floor and start in the middle.

Lakes Region NH @ 1200' or so
5a?

393 planted towards a 440 goal mixed apple, pear, plum and apricot...
Re: laying out curved rows
March 26, 2016 10:56PM
I'm setting up an orchard this spring encompassing a hill top - enclosing 8 or 10 acres when it's all said and done. I'll be irrigating in the early years and want to keep the rows as level as possible to get consistent watering among all trees rounding the hill down a given row. I'm using an optical auto level (Leica NA334) to keep rows level and got a surveyor's rope (a flexible fiberglass measuring tape) for tree spacing.

Josh Klatt
Ohio River Valley
Zone 6b
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login