Keyline Water Management: Field Research and Education in the Capital Region, BC

Is your farm soil compacted and prone to flooding & drought?

You may want to attend a free seminar on ‘Keyline’ water management taking place in the Capital Region, BC.

Enter your name and email address below and we'll send you information about Keyline water management, and our upcoming workshops.

What is Keyline Farm Planning?

Keyline farm planning is a management tool that uses natural landscape contours and farming techniques to slow, sink, spread and store rainwater as well as build soil fertility. With a detailed contour map of your farm, keyline planning can help determine the optimal placement for farm elements such as: irrigation ponds, cropping & orchard rows, structures, roads/tracks, fences, livestock rotation, subsoil rip lines, and more. 


Rainwater moves largely based on landform, from the ground where it falls to its final destination in valleys, creeks, lakes and oceans. Water also carries nutrients. With a detailed contour map, we can work with natural contours to maximize these resources and build soil. Keyline patterning allows the farmer to harmonize with the landform while maintaining parallel cultivation rows.


Keyline strategies focus on slowing, spreading, sinking and storing rainwater in the landscape and building topsoil, not just conserving it. By slowing heavy storms, we reduce erosion and soil loss. By spreading, we can buffer the natural concentration of water in 'valleys' from 'ridges'. By sinking, we can also keep as much water and nutrients on the farm as possible to optimize ground water recharge.  By storing abundant winter rainwater in ponds, we can have excess water  in times of scarcity.


Keyline techniques vary depending on the production system, but the common thread is the keyline patterning. Techniques can include: multi-functional tree planting (shade/ wind protection/ forage / fodder/ crops), subsoil plowing to reduce hardpan, pond building to store winter rains for summer irrigation, energy-efficient, multi-functional road building and more. They have the potential to enhance the water efficiency of any existing production system. 

About This Project

Hatchet & Seed is pleased to announce the “Keyline Water Management: Field Research & Education in the Capital Region”.

From 2015-2017, we’ll be monitoring the effects of ‘keyline subsoil plowing’ using the Yeoman 6SB subsoil plow on three unique farms in the capital region.

This 3-year project also includes an educational component, with free public seminars and several field days designed to empower farmers to use GIS imaging technology and a simple field contour layout to better understand their farm’s micro-watershed.

To read a 2-page project summary produced the BC Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative, click here:

Funding for this project has been provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the BC Ministry of Agriculture through the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC under Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The program is delivered by the BC Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative.

Keyline Design Project Scope - Capital Region, Southern Vancouver Island
Project Scope - Capital Region, Southern Vancouver Island

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and the BC Ministry of Agriculture are committed to working with industry partners. Opinions expressed in this document are those of Hatchet & Seed and not necessarily those of AAFC, the Ministry of Agriculture or the Investment Agriculture Foundation.

Attend A Workshop

Dec 2017

Keyline Water Management Seminar: Project Wrap-Up

9:30 am - 4:30 pm

This workshop is hosted by Hatchet & Seed and proudly sponsored by the CRD!
  CRD Logo  shirt-logo3

Are you interested in flood & drought-proofing BC’s agricultural land? This free, information-packed seminar and networking event may be for you!




This seminar has four components and participants are welcome to join any and/or all that interest them.

For the past two and a half years, we at Hatchet & Seed have been monitoring the effects of ‘keyline plowing’ on three different pastures in the Capital Region. Read more about the project here. Now that our ‘keyline plow’ monitoring program has come to end, we have comparative data to share as well as other practical lessons learnt.

It will also be an opportunity to connect with and share other resources related to regenerative water management on Southern Vancouver Island.

It is intended for farmers, policy makers, land-managers, ranchers as well as (agro) forestry, restoration and watershed professionals.


* Agrologists, this event has been approved towards BCIA Professional Development (PD) hours.




Keyline Water Management Seminar: Project Wrap-Up

Date: Friday, December 1st, 2017 
Time: 9:30am – 4:30pm
Location: CRD Board Room, 625 Fisgard St, Victoria, BC
FREE – Sponsored by the BC Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative and the CRD.

Getting There

– The board room is on the Top Floor of the CRD Office at 625 Fisgard St.
– Parking can be found at Centennial Square nearby (click for directions)
– Attendees will need to sign in at the front desk, where you will be giving directions to the room.


9:30am – 10:45am – Introduction to Keyline Water Management & Other Water Management StrategiesIMG_1988

Tayler Krawczyk, Hatchet & Seed

  • About “Keyline Water Management Project”
  • Introduction to ‘Keyline Geometry’ for the purpose of farm infrastructure planning
  • Keyline plowing to reduce compaction & manage water
  • The role of multi-functional trees in the farm landscape (agro-forestry & shelter-belts)
  • The role of animals in building soil and cycling water (managed grazing)
  • Alternative drainage techniques for bottom-lands
  • ‘Grain Report’ – photo slideshow & notes by Mike Doehnel, growing barley on keyline plowed fields

11:00am – 12:00pm – Keyline Plow Monitoring Results Summary

Sara Duncan, p.Ag.probes

Sara will discuss:

  •  Design of the experimental monitoring program
    • Methods and equipment
    • Parameters evaluated
  • Results
    • Effect on soil moisture content, organic carbon and soil density
  • Conclusions and lessons learned


* Tea, coffee and light snacks will be provided by the CRD (not a full lunch).  Lunch + networking break is from 12:00pm – 1:30pm. We encourage folks to use the time and space to network with others and engage with some of the resources and surveys we will have setup in the room.

1:30pm – 2:30pm – Irrigation Pond Design Considerations

Tayler Krawczyk, Hatchet & SeedIMG_5305

  • Review of regulations: water licensing (Water Sustainable Act) & Dam Safety Board regulations; municipal soil movement
  • Sizing the pond (irrigation, evaporation %, seepage, environmental reserves)
  • Using topographic maps
  • Siting (resources for catchment analysis)
  • Spillways and other design features
  • What to do with excess fill material?
  • Construction & earthmoving considerations


2:30pm – 4:30pm – 
Using Free Online Tools for Farm Water Design + Open Consultancy

Tayler Krawczyk, Hatchet & Seedbullock

  • This session will explore some of the amazing free online resources we have in the region to better understand soil types, water flow, well capacity, irrigation demand and landscape topography.
  • We will visit some of the participants’ farms via free online GIS-software and address challenges related to water management
  • Participants will also get a sneak peak at a a new online resource guide being created for the project, titled “Resilient Farms’ for Southern Vancouver Island: A Resource Guide for Farm Water 
Management in a Changing Climate”. Following an FAQ-format, it seeks to address and compiled resources for common farm-water related issues. Please, bring your questions and concerns related to farm water management to be included in the final document!
  • If you have a farm you would like to explore during this event, please let us know ahead of time (


About the Presenters

Sara J Duncan
Sara Duncan, p.Ag.

Sara Duncan is an environmental scientist with experience in soil classification and interpretation for soil salvage and handling, land reclamation planning and research, and technical writing for environmental assessment and research reporting.

She has been responsible for designing and implementing the soil monitoring component of the project.


Tayler KrawzcykTayler Krawczyk, Hatchet & Seed

Tayler is an ecological landscape designer, permaculture practitioner and project manager. Focusing on edible landscaping and regenerative landscape design, he operates Hatchet & Seed, with his wife Solara Goldwynn.