Most Popular Erosion and Sediment Control Techniques
Erosion is a natural process, but several management strategies have been employed to reduce the environmental impact when it is severe or in places where erosion has a high economic or human health impact. Techniques range from simply minimizing disturbance in certain areas to extensive engineering during initial site development. The four primary methods for controlling erosion and sediment are:
An excellent tool for erosion control, revegetation involves the seeding of grasses and legumes in areas that have been disturbed by human interaction and natural environmental factors. That applies to steep slopes as well as those found in low-lying or flatlands that flow into waterways. Maintaining vegetation cover helps decrease the speed at which loose earth is swept away by wind, rain, ice, snow, and water currents. The plant roots bind the soil together while preventing it from eroding. The root systems also trap sediments. However, take care not to overseed the area, resulting in over-vigorous growth and an insufficient root structure.
Contour plowing is the most sustainable technique with the least impact on resources. It involves plowing along contours, or up-and-down slopes, which helps maintain vegetation that minimizes erosion by slowing down runoff. Contour plowing is used to prepare planting beds with furrows that encourage planting grasses and legumes to prevent rainwater runoff instead of having soil carried away with it. You can direct water through ditches alongside rows of crops rather than allowing it to gather in one area where it can contribute to soil erosion. Contouring also keeps soil from being blown away by the wind. Good cover crop management allows for techniques such as no-till farming without sacrificing too much production per acre. No-till farming is a technique in which a machine sews seeds into the ground without turning over the soil.
Terracing or constructing a series of earth retaining steps along a steep slope helps reduce the effects of rainwater runoff by slowing it down and allowing it to sink into the ground. It also prevents soil from being eroded by winds blowing across the sloped area. Terraces are made of ridges with a flat bottom of rock or masonry along their lower edge and very shallow side slopes. They may be constructed either on level land or on regions where there is some slope, which encourages rainfall to run off in different directions rather than straight downhill. These terrace walls make cultivation possible because they transform areas with severe slopes into near-level plots for farming.
Mulches are organic matter components, such as straw, hay, leaves, or wood chips placed on the soil surface to protect it from being eroded. This material can be plowed into the soil before planting a crop but must be removed when the growing season is over. Plastic sheeting and geotextile fabrics are other types of mulch that help prevent erosion by protecting topsoil from rainfall and runoff. Stone walls used in farming may serve double duty as windbreaks and permanent barriers against soil erosion during rainstorms.
Erosion control techniques promote sustainable farming practices to prevent topsoil loss due to wind or water action. People who use these techniques are less likely to lose valuable crops or have their pastures reduced to barren, unproductive areas with no vegetation due to soil erosion.