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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Pullman, Washington » Northwest Sustainable Agroecosystems Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #225148

Title: A wood-strand material for wind erosion control: effects on total sediment loss, PM10 vertical flux, and PM10 loss

item Sharratt, Brenton
item WU, JOAN

Submitted to: Journal of Environmental Quality
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/9/2008
Publication Date: 1/13/2009
Citation: Copeland, N., Sharratt, B.S., Wu, J., Foltz, R., Dooley, J. 2009. A wood-strand material for wind erosion control: effects on total sediment loss, PM10 vertical flux, and PM10 loss. Journal of Environmental Quality.38:139-148.

Interpretive Summary: Wind erosion from agricultural land contributes to the exceedance of the US EPA national ambient air quality standard for PM10 (particulate matter with a diameter less than or equal to 10 microns) in the western United States. Erosion control practices are therefore sought to reduce sediment loss and PM10 emissions from agricultural land. Sediment loss and PM10 emissions were measured from an agricultural soil amended with traditional straw or a new wood-based material manufactured by Forest Concepts, Seattle, WA. The wood-based material, made from byproducts of the forest industry, was found to be at least twice as effective as wheat straw in reducing wind erosion and PM10 emissions from soil exposed to wind speeds of nearly 20 m/s. Manufacturers of wood-based materials can use information from this study to aid in designing or marketing products for wind erosion control.

Technical Abstract: Wind erosion is a widespread problem in much of the western United States due to arid conditions and persistent winds. Fugitive dust emitted from eroding land poses a risk to both environmental quality and human health. The Clean Air Act, established in 1971, was revised in 1987 to include ambient air quality standards for PM10 (particulate matter with mean aerodynamic diameter of less than or equal to 10 microns) in the atmosphere. Agricultural straw has been widely used for erosion control, but there are numerous drawbacks to its use. Straw is a lightweight material and lacks stability during high winds. There is also growing concern over the introduction of noxious weeds to wildlands, chemical residues from pesticides, and health risks associated with dust particles liberated from the shattering of straw elements during the application process. A wood-based product has been developed as an alternative to agricultural straw for erosion control. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of the wood-strand material in controlling wind erosion and fugitive dust emissions. A series of wind tunnel tests were conducted to compare the efficacy of wood strands and agricultural straw in reducing sediment loss, PM10 vertical flux, and PM10 loss from bare soil. Results indicated that wood strands are stable at wind speeds of up to 18 m/s while wheat straw was stable only at wind speeds of less than 6.5 m/s. Over this range in wind speed, wood strands and agricultural straw reduced sediment and PM10 loss from bare soil by respectively 90 and 40%. Wood strands, therefore, appear to be a viable wind erosion control material.