The Keyline Plan

The Keyline plan is a methodology for planning the layout and production of a farm relative to its environment, created by P.A. Yeoman in 1954. The system utilises a Scale of Permanence to give priority to the most permanent elements of the environment.

Scale of Permanence:

  1. Climate
  2. Landshape
  3. Water
  4. Roads
  5. Trees
  6. Buildings
  7. Fencing
  8. Soil.


Keyline focuses on the major limiting factors to production, giving priority to those factors that can most easily be affected by design, these being water and soil fertility. Keyline utilises the identification of “Keypoints” and “Keylines” within watersheds to locate the highest practical points for water catchment, which allows for effective use of passive water dispersal into the lower landscape. Keyline impedes the natural tendency for water to concentrate in valleys by using dams, drains and subsoil chisel plowing on contour or at minimum gradient to guide water from the valley centre out toward the ridgeline. This use of subsoil chisel plowing allows essential air and water into the root zone, increasing soil fertility and top soil depth as sub soil is converted via microbial action. Keyline has the potential to increase water efficiency, nutrient availability, soil fertility, depth, organic carbon content and overall productivity on a per square meter basis, reduce evaporation, erosion, fluctuations in soil temperature and overall expenditure.

Further Information: