Erosion Control

The USDA has noted that soil is eroding at a rate of approximately 5 tons per year, although in many cases, sites can be losing closer to 100 tons per acre! Surface erosion can occur on slopes as flat at two percent [1] and is most likely to occur on medium-textured soils [2]. Erosion is most likely to occur on soils that experience reduced ground cover from fire, overgrazing and other disturbances. Although seeding after disturbance can be an effective approach to minimizing subsequent erosion, the success of this approach is strongly dependent on initial cover of seeded species [3]. Moreover, surface mulches, biodegradable matting (like coconut fiber) and other man-made structures (such as wattles) that modify runoff flows can be effective in protecting soil from erosion, however, the reestablishment of permanent plant cover is generally the most effective approach for maintaining erosion control [4]. Fast growing species that develop large root systems can be particularly useful for arresting soil loss. Hydroseeding is an effective strategy for erosion prone sites.


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[1]    Lynch K. Site planning. 2nd ed. Cambridge (MA): M.I.T. Press; 1971. 508 p.

[2]    Meyer LD, Monke EJ. Mechanics of soil erosion by rainfall and overland flow. Transactions of the ASAE. 1965;8(4):572–577. doi:10.13031/2013.40586

[3]    Pyke DA, Wirth TA, Beyers JL. Does seeding after wildfires in rangelands reduce erosion or invasive species? Restoration Ecology. 2013;21(4):415–421. doi:10.1111/rec.12021

[4]    Brooks MA. Evaluation of roadside revegetation in central Arizona [thesis]. [Tucson (AZ)]: The University of Arizona; 1993.