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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Erosion Control Systems

Authors
item GILLEY, JOHN
item Eghball, Bahman - DECEASED ARS SCIENTIST

Submitted to: Phosphorus Decision Support Systems Proceedings
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: October 1, 2004
Publication Date: June 1, 2005
Citation: Gilley, J.E. and B. Eghball. Erosion control systems. Southern Extension Research Activity- Information Exchange Group 17, Best Management Practices Workgroup Publication, 2pp. 2005.

Interpretive Summary: Erosion control systems may be a single or group of practices that prevent detachment and interrupt the transport of soil by rainfall, runoff, melting snow or ice, and irrigation water. Since phosphorus is often attached to sediment particles, erosion control systems may also serve to decrease phosphorus delivery from agricultural areas. A variety of practices are available for controlling erosion on agricultural areas including contouring, strip cropping, conservation tillage, terraces, buffer strips, diversions and grassed waterways. More than one erosion control practice may be necessary for protection on areas with high soil-loss potential. Each erosion control system should be tailored to meet site-specific conditions. Maintaining a vegetative or residue cover on the soil surface is one of the most effective means of reducing erosion. The cost of establishment along with operation and maintenance requirements should be considered before a particular erosion control system is adopted. Keeping soil particles and nutrients on site can enhance soil properties and maintain productivity.

Technical Abstract: Erosion control practices have been successfully used to reduce soil loss, sediment transport, and nutrient delivery for several decades. A variety of practices are available for controlling erosion on agricultural areas including contouring, strip cropping, conservation tillage, terraces, buffer strips, diversions and grassed waterways. The erosion control practices employed at a particular site should be tailored to site-specific conditions. A combination of erosion control practices may be implemented to effectively control erosion from agricultural lands and sediment delivery to sensitive areas. One of the most effective means of reducing erosion is to maintain a vegetative or residue cover on the soil surface. A 30% soil surface coverage of wheat or corn residue, the minimum amount required to qualify as a conservation tillage system, can reduce soil loss by approximately 62% and 97%, respectively. The cost of establishing and putting a practice in place along with operation and maintenance requirements should be considered before a particular erosion control system is adopted. By reducing excessive erosion and conserving water and nutrients, erosion control measures can also enhance profitability.

Last Modified: 7/28/2014
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