KEYLINE® DESIGN: Whole-Farm Planning for Water Abundance and Soil Fertility ← Spiral Ridge Permaculture

KEYLINE® DESIGN: Whole-Farm Planning for Water Abundance and Soil Fertility 1

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Date(s) - Jun/Fri/2014 - Jun/Sun/2014


The Farm School


Tags Alabama, Broadacre, earthworks, farming, grazing, holistic management, Kentucky, Keyline, Nashville, Owen Hablutzel, regenerative agriculture, soil building, southeast, Tennessee, water harvesting, whole farm design

KEYLINE® DESIGN: Whole-Farm Planning for Water Abundance and Soil Fertility

Instructor: Owen Hablutzel

June 20-22, 2014




This three day hands-on workshop will change the way you see and manage your landscape, and your future. If you operate a farm Keyline Designor ranch, or if you would like to learn how to make your property resilient to drought, this workshop will deliver. We will leverage the most effective tools, principles, techniques, and strategies from Keyline® Design, Permaculture Design, and Holistic Management® for an integrated whole farm plan.

Nature is complex. Managing land and natural resources has never been a simple job. Our critical task is becoming ever more difficult in a rapidly changing world. This course will add many new practical skills and options to your management ‘toolbox.’ You will discover techniques and strategies to manage water and fertility cycles, accelerate topsoil development, manage weed issues, eliminate off-farm inputs, and significantly reduce costs. We will emphasize Keyline® techniques for maximum harvesting and storage of rain and runoff water, for generating drought-resilience. Learn hands-on surveying, GIS mapping ‘on-the-cheap,’ and how to analyze and improve your water catchment.

Using Yeomans’ Keyline Scale of Permanence as a guide for effective whole farm planning, this course will lead you through the process of developing a comprehensive land management plan. Keyline’s Scale of Permanence (Climate, Land Shape, Water Supply, Farm Roads, Agro-Forestry, Buildings, Fencing and Soil), will help you evaluate decisions and design your property for sustained effectiveness.



Course Objectives

 A hands-on course teaching the principles and application of Keyline® design for properties of any size
Integration of relevant aspects of Holistic Management® planned grazing, and PermacultureDesign Principles
Learn how to build maximum amounts of new soil each year with the application of Keyline® plowing to progressively increase soil depth
Discover design strategies for drought-resilience of your property with enhanced water retention, catchment, and storage
Enhance soil fertility, nutrient cycling, and carbon capture with Functional Polycultures, including plants and animals through integration 
of rotational planned grazing, agroforestry, contour cropping, and silvo-pasture approaches.
Experience on-site design and application of Keyline Pattern Cultivation with a Yeomans’ Plow


Key Benefits of Taking the Course

Generate an inspired vision for your landscape

Increase the yields and resilience of rangelands, pastures, and your whole operation

Learn to create and implement a whole farm plan using the insights of Keyline Design

Discover the secrets for rapid creation of healthy, and biologically active topsoil

Plan for whole landscape water harvesting (using Holistic Management and Keyline techniques), for your property

Learn to connect and integrate farm infrastructure, layout, and functions for improved efficiencies and synergy

Reduce costs and dependency on outside inputs, increase profits, and enhance livelihoods while improving your quality of life

Position your farm, ranch, or nursery operation for success in changing times

Holistic Management and Keyline Instructor Owen Hablutzel in front of Keyline PlowInstructor:  Owen Hablutzel is a Keyline Design® consultant and Holistic Management® Certified Educator working in the U.S. and internationally.  Trained under the world’s leading Keyline consultant, Darren Doherty (, Owen has been successfully working to transform soils and fertility, and to increase whole landscape hydration through regenerative techniques since 2007.  By working together with farms, ranches, and land managing organizations, his integrated and dynamic approach is helping to create more fertile landscapes, robust farm economies, and resilient watersheds.



Yeoman's Plow, Keyline Design

Yeoman’s plow riplines filling with grasses, reducing bare ground and dominance of unpalatable shrubs.

What is Keyline® Design concept and practice?

Keyline Design emerged from Australia in the 1940’s and is one of the first, farm planning frameworks to take a whole-system approach towards achieving a ‘permanent agriculture.’ Originator, P.A. Yeomans, developed planning tools and innovations—using his knowledge of geology, hydrology, and soils—which lead to drought-proof and highly diversified farm, with increasing yields.  Yeomans overturned conventional wisdom by demonstrating that topsoil can be built at astounding rates and in a cost-effective fashion using his ingenious and proven Yeomans plow and Keyline pattern cultivation.

What is the Yeomans Plow?

As part of his water harvesting and soil building innovations, Yeomans developed a unique, non-inversion, sub-soiling chisel plow known as the Yeomans Plow. This implement is designed to break compaction and aerate soil profiles with minimal undesirable disturbance to soil life by not inverting the existing soil layers. Used in the proper geomorphic pattern of ripping–known as Keyline Pattern Cultivation–maximum soil moisture, explosive pulses of soil life, and rapid building of topsoil can result.  Good results have been found for brush control situations and erosion control as well.

Keyline Plow

Keyline Plow


 What is Holistic Management?

Holistic Management replaces fragmentary and short term solutions with whole-focused framework that improves critical decision-making, healing damaged land, and offers tested tools and strategies for creating and managing healthy land.  Sustainable livestock use and positive economic, social and ecological outcomes emphasized.  Currently, there are at least 40 million acres, world-wide, managed using Holistic Management.

What is Permaculture?

Permaculture is an applied science of agricultural-ecological design, rooted in the observation of nature. It is practiced on many thousands of properties in 120 countries globally, and expanding. As a whole-systems approach to planning and design, Permaculture has a positive and creative solution-based focus. A Permaculture approach uses a practical set of design principles and methods to harmoniously integrate landscapes with people, food production, built structures, technologies, energy, natural resources, animal systems, plant systems, as well as social and economic structures.

Keyline Design Recommended Reading and Video Clips

Keyline Design – Mark IV by Abe Collins and Darren Doherty – pdf here:

The Geographical and Topographical Basis of Keyline –

Keyline Scale of Permanence –

Keyline Design Introduction:

Keyline Case Study:

 Logistics for Course

This course venue is The Farm School, located within  The Farm Community.  We will also be taking field trips to a nearby farm for hands on grazing planning and biological monitoring.  Camping is included in the course fee.  Rustic dorms in a hostel or private rooms  are available for an additional fee.

We believe you should be well nourished during your stay so that you may fully participate.  For that reason, when you sign up for our course, we will provide three nutrient-dense and delicious, omnivorous meals a day, for free.  As much as possible, the food is sourced locally and is organic.  We include meats and vegetables from our (Spiral Ridge) homestead, probiotic rich fermented foods and we only use butter, olive oil, coconut oil or animal fats in our food.  No over processed, GMO laden junk.  We aim to embody the principles we teach about on every level. Special diet?  Let us know ahead of time and we will do our best to accommodate you.  If you have a very restrictive diet, you may need to bring some of your own food.

Tennessee in the summer is hot, humid and buggy, Oh My! Please consider a dorm bed if you are uncomfortable camping in this environment. Weather may be rainy as well.  Please come prepared for rain (rain boots, raincoat) and hot weather. Please bring short sleeved shirts, long-sleeved shirts (in case it is cool in the evening), a sunhat, bathing suit (possibility of swimming), sunscreen, sunglasses and bug spray if you use it.  There is a store on The Farm that carries many snacks, natural foods, and bug sprays as well.  Lightweight pants and socks are useful if we spend anytime in the woods or meadows.  It is advisable to tuck your pants into your socks when in the woods to keep any bugs off your legs.  You must bring your own towels and soaps.  It is advisable to also bring a flashlight.  Wifi will sometimes be available at The School, but is limited.  If you need to get online the store has wifi.  Cell phone reception is spotty, but we will show you where to best get reception.

Tuition – ask about group discounts for 3 or more people.

$425 Local Farmer Special – includes lunch only and no overnight accommodations.

$525 Regular Tuition – includes three meals/day and camping

Sign up for Holistic Management and add Keyline Design Course and get a discount!

Both courses, 6 consecutive days

Local Farmer Special – $800

Regular Tuition – $1000

Click here to read more about the Holistic Management Course and to register for it on it’s own.

Refund/Cancellation Policy

(If you sign up for both and  one course runs and one doesn’t, you still get $25 extra off)

Please click the link to read about our cancellation policy.


There is a 15 person minimum to run this course.  *Register early, space is limited.*

Check or Money Order

1. Send us the following information via email or include with your payment;  Name, address, phone number, email and how you found out about the course.

2. Send full course amount to:  Spiral Ridge Permaculture  444 Walker Road, Summertown, Tennessee 38483.


1. Fill out online registration form

2. Choose a ticket type below.




Bookings are closed for this event.