This October, a special demonstration day was offered for local nursery growers that showcased construction technology to control erosion. Growers, along with conservation personnel, gathered in a field belonging to the event sponsor, Surface Nursery in North Clackamas County, to see a demonstration of erosion control products that are currently being used in the construction industry.
The gray and wet weather did not dampen the workshop participants’ eagerness to learn something new to protect their land. These growers know that their soil is the foundation of their agricultural operations and that the soils in the Willamette Valley are some of the most productive in the country. By looking to other industries, the nursery industry may find products that will help them keep their soil in their fields where it belongs.
Representatives from ACF West, a distributor of geosynthetic solutions for construction applications, demonstrated a number of products that they thought might be applicable to the nursery industry. Many of these products would serve to interrupt the sheet flow of rainwater down a slope.
Sheet erosion is the uniform removal of soil in thin layers by the forces of raindrops and overland flow. It can be a very damaging erosive process because it can cover large areas of sloping land and go unnoticed for quite some time. Protecting exposed soil from moving water is vital as individual raindrops are like powerful little bombs, hitting the soil surface and breaking apart the soil particles, allowing them to be carried off by stormwater.
Other erosion reducing products were also demonstrated that may be used on access roads during harvest, on slopes within a field, or in other problem spots to mitigate erosion during the rainy season until corrective action may be taken when it is dry.
There are many ways that nurseries can prevent erosion from occurring, but when growing activities require that soil be exposed, conservation practices need to be in place to reduce any escape of soil to streams or ditches. Learning how other industries deal with similar problems is the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that may introduce technology adaptable to the nursery industry without having to reinvent the wheel!
Many thanks to Surface Nursery for hosting the event, ACF West for their time and technical assistance, and East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District for coordination.