Drought Busters: Restoring Desertified Desert Grasslands


We call the combination of wild animals, planned grazing, water harvesting, and Keyline subsoiling “Drought Busters”. Drought Busters is cheap, fast, poisons no plants, kills no animals, and increases the numbers and diversity of both. Drought Busters can’t make it rain, but it will make actual rain more and more effective, which is practically the same thing.




Busting Drought for $10 per Acre from Christopher Gill on Vimeo.


NOTE: this post was orginally posted to this site on July 20, 2015

Ranching, wildlife management, finance, oil & gas, real estate development and management.
  • This project highlights a superb example of ways we can regenerate health of vast water basins by inviting rainwater to slow, spread, and sink into the landscape instead of running off. The Australians have been doing similar Key-Line Design projects for decades with outstanding results, so I am very pleased that you are bringing this concept to West Texas. I want to come visit!

    We are doing similar techniques across hundreds of acres of federal lands in the Texas Hill Country, but we have not come close to your $10 per acre price tag. Our projects are currently taking Juniper-dominated woodlands back to grasslands and leaving thick Juniper mulch terraces on perfect contour for flood control, carbon sequestration, and aquifer recharge. We get about 30 inches of rain each year and have had zero runoff since 2010 on 800 acres with contour mulch techniques. The extra infiltration has increased Grass, Forb, and Tree productivity by about 300%. I would love to come see your site in person. The photos look amazing.

    • Dear Bryan,

      Many thanks for the nice remarks. I am always happy to show interested ranchers what we do and how we do it: call if you are in the neighborhood. 210-240-3800.


  • Thank you for the great video. I only have 40 acres down in Terlingua and will be trying to figure out how to do this on a very small scale.

  • Probably not appropriate for all soil types. Have you seen better results in some soils over others? Pics look like loamy sites(?).

    • Dear Justin,

      Thank you for your comment. My experience is that contour sub-soiling always works to some degree, sometimes a little and sometimes a lot. We do see different results in different places and wonder why. So you are correct that soil type must be a factor.

      I am not sure what is meant by loamy soil so I looked it up: to some people it means high organic content and to others, equal amounts of sand, clay and silt.

      Extremely light soils, especially composed of recent sedimentary wash, appear to re-compress quickly after rain and washing. Such soils are lacking in organic material: Probably this contributes.

      None of these desert soils have much organic material so in this sense they are not loamy.

      The difference between dirt and topsoil (as I use these terms) is organic material. In my mind, whatever increases this in whatever type of soil increases soil fertility and water holding.

      My gardener’s answer is that we need to get plants to grow everywhere and this plowing will help anywhere that can be plowed. But then you must follow up with animal impact.


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