Cotton Bests Other Spray-On Erosion Control
By Don Comis
May 12, 2009
Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
Holt helped develop the erosion control industry's first cotton byproduct
hydromulch "spray-on blanket." Holt is at the ARS
Production and Processing Research Unit in Lubbock, Texas.
Hydromulch is the bright-green mulch used in spray-on slurries that cover
bare lands at construction sites and roadside projects, to prevent erosion
until vegetation can be established. In the past, hydromulches were made mostly
from wood and paper byproducts.
Byproduct Hydromulch is made from cotton gin byproducts. It is a
combination hydromulch-spray-on blanket that, in recent tests, controlled
erosion and promoted grass seedling establishment better than conventional
roll-on blankets, and required significantly less labor.
The total runoff from these four mulches, including soil and mulch
ingredients, was: cotton, 222 pounds per acre; straw, 7,832 pounds per acre;
wood, 7,474 pounds per acre; and coconut, 3,719 pounds per acre.
The cotton byproduct hydromulch was produced using technology developed from
cooperative research efforts between ARS; Cotton Incorporated of Cary, N.C.;
Summit Seed, Inc., of Manteno, Ill.;
and Mulch & Seed Innovations,
LLC, of Centre, Ala. ARS has applied for a patent on the process.
The technology has served as a foundation for developing a broader line of
cotton byproduct hydromulches for erosion control, including a premium
hydromulch for steep slopes, and more recently, a midgrade product for flat- to
One of Holt's studies showed that cotton-based hydromulches established a
good stand of grass, compared to other hydromulches and a straw blanket which
didn't do as well.
Cotton Incorporated is the research and marketing organization representing
upland cotton. The organization partially funded some of Holt's studies, which
also involved a farm consultant, ARS colleague
Potter in Temple, Texas, and a colleague at
Auburn University in Auburn, Ala.
more about this research in the May/June 2009 issue of Agricultural
ARS is the principal intramural scientific research agency in the
U.S. Department of