How to Prevent Soil Erosion

Soil erosion involves the separation and removal of soil particles from one location to another. The primary factors causing soil erosion is wind and water runoff on compacted soils. Other factors including human impacts will be illustrated below.

Erosion usually degrades soil quality including loss of nutrients and organic matter. Thus a soil of poor quality is less able to withstand further erosion thereby starting a path of soil degradation. The impacts from erosion include the formation of rills, gullies, stream bank cutting, and down slope deposition of soil into bodies of water.

Field Erosion Run Off

Impacts attributed to soil erosion include reductions in fertility, biological activity and infiltration. These changes reduce the capacity of the soil to supply and cycle nutrients, store moisture, and sustain plant and biological functions.

Methods on How to Prevent Soil Erosion

Grand Teton National Park Erosion Control Project

The first case history involves an erosion control project at Flagg Ranch Resort within Grand Teton National Park. I was instructed by the park management team to plan, design, and implement a mitigation plan to prevent further erosion, and to restore the area incorporating native materials.

This first photo shows a portion of the site, that we refer to as the horseshoe. This is just before we started this project in August of 2002.

Flagg Ranch Restoration Site

This photo of mitigation site 5 after implementation of lodgepole pine erosion control structures that are secured with large rocks. Also notice the newly constructed buck and pole fence. The main cause of erosion in this popular area was attributed to visitors walking up and down the slopes.

Site 5 Mitigation

Revegetation by hydromulching using native plant material. In accordance with National Park mandates, the native seed was collected in close proximity to this site.

Hydromulching at Flagg Ranch

Site number 5 in August 2005. Establishment of plants have started. The average growing season in this area is only 60 days. Notice that further erosion has been halted.

Flagg Ranch Restoration 2005

Site number 5 in July 2009. Plants have taken a permanent hold onto the slope. Since no intervention has occurred on the entire project site since 2002, it has been deemed a success.

Flagg Ranch Mitigation 09

Willow Flats Overlook

Willow Flat Overlook

This popular area at Grand Teton National Park is subjected to extreme erosion impacts. The National Park Service did not have a designated trail system in the area. This allowed visitors to make their own pathways which created severe erosion cuts.

Erosion Impacts

We developed a rehabilitation plan that included restoration of the erosion impacts and construction of interpretative hard surface trails for visitors. This is a satellite view of the Willow Flats area showing the social trails (red) and proposed trails (blue).

Willow Flats Trails

Elk Ranch - Fencing around the water body discourages human and wildlife access. This helps to prevent soil erosion by preserving the shoreline vegetation thereby improving water quality.

Erosion Prevention Measure
Severe sheet and rill erosion on highly erodible soils in northwest Iowa after heavy rains. The spring rains fell on soils that had no protection from soil erosion.

Sites where soil compaction is high and water runoff is causing soil erosion, we believe the answer is to apply Turf2Max. It promotes the transformation of small soil particles into larger ones, thus opening up pore space. This improves water infiltration through the surface layers and increases percolation into the soil.

Other ways on how to prevent soil erosion include:

  • No-till farming helps to stop erosion due to wind and water.
  • Protect the soil with cover crops when the land is not being used to grow crops.
  • Use hydromulching when revegetating on slopes.
  • Grass waterways and terraces on hillsides
  • Creating and/or maintaining a healthy riparian corridor along waterways.

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