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    Effective Use of Erosion control blankets (ECBs) For Erosion Prevention

    Introduction:

    Erosion is a process that takes place naturally as a result of severe weather, rainfall, wind, and other climate changes. 

    Erosion can cause several problems in many industries by altering the existing distinctiveness of a land. Consequently, it leads to the removal of topsoil and undergrowth which increase the dire impacts of infertile soil.

    To avoid such problems, farmers can make sure to cover their lands with erosion control blankets (ECBs) that provide a useful and straightforward way out. These can help the farmers to cover the parts of open land to prevent the reallocation of soil besides supporting the growth of new plants.

    What are Erosion control blankets (ECBs)?

    An erosion control blanket (ECB) also known as erosion control mate is a protective covering for soil, which consists of straw, plastic fibrous sediments, and other plant debris. These blankets are manufactured for soil preservation from a heavy downpour.

    Erosion control blankets (ECBs) coat soil to deter further exposure to erosion; therefore, they are useful to stabilize the soil particles gripping them in position to avoid runoff due to sliding.

    Additionally, ECBs are designed to have chinks which facilitate the breathing of new plant growth besides protecting the bare soil from additional exposure to different types of erosion. From the beginning of planting to root viscosity until plants are grown, erosion control blankets (ECBs) help in the protection of land.

    Moreover, ECBs are created with natural and biodegradable substances which means it is not necessary to remove the blankets after their job is over. They will break down and dissolve themselves into nutrients and minerals of the soil; this decomposition of these erosion control blankets (ECBs) helps in plant growth.

    To temporarily cover land and support budding vegetation, various ECBs have been designed which can last anywhere from a few months to a few years. Their major aim is to protect uncovered soil and newly planted regions against downpour and wind erosion.

    Permanent erosion blankets, however, provide a long-term solution to erosion. While their outer substance may break down, these erosion control blankets (ECBs) are designed not to rupture in any way- which makes them durable for permanent protection against erosion.

    Types of Erosion Control Blankets (ECBs)

    While choosing the most suitable erosion control blankets (ECBs), farmers need to consider the condition of their soil and the requirements of the landforms. There are various types of erosion control blankets (ECBs); some are temporary while others are permanent. Let’s take a look at a few examples below:
    1. Biodegradable Erosion control blankets (ECBs)
    Biodegradable Erosion control blankets (ECBs) are made up of natural fibers which break into pieces in the natural setting. This makes this type of erosion control blankets (ECBs) an excellent choice for the operations which involve the least disorder to the natural environment. Decomposition of these blankets may either take some months or years, either way, it depends on their composition.
    1. Permanent Erosion control blankets (ECBs)
    Permanent erosion control blankets (ECBs) are made for long-term usage against all kinds of erosion. While their matrix may decay but the blanket itself, cannot rupture. They have two common types: High-Performance Turf Reinforcement Mats (HPTRMs) and Turf Reinforcement Mats (TRMs).
    1. Photodegradable Erosion control blankets (ECBs)
    Photodegradable erosion control blankets (ECBs) are usually in the form of nets made from materials like plastic. However, the UV stabilizers in the plastic are manufactured to stop working after a certain period, which makes them suitable for short-term projects. During their susceptibility to sunlight, the parts of the net break down. However, these photodegradable erosion control blankets (ECBs) may take a long time to break down if they are protected from exposure to sunlight.

    How are Erosion Control Blankets (ECBs) formed?

    Erosion control blankets (ECBs) are created with the purpose to decrease the rate at which water flows through the soil. They are typically knitted from specific material with lots of bends and resistance. Such materials are good for holding water.

    There are many kinds of erosion control blankets (ECBs)- some are natural while others are synthetic. Some others are both natural and synthetic.

    Various elements used to create these blankets are coconut fiber, jute, aspen fiber, plastic, and straw.

    The price of the blankets depends on their size and the material used. Some commonly bought blankets are 70 to 100 Square yards long. If they do not fit the width of the land, they are trimmed into 4 to 8 feet wide range.

    ECBs are usually consisted of chemical and UV protected elements, but their matrix is synthetic which allows vegetative development through its structure.

    The matrix also allows the plants and their roots to grow through it. By blending with the soil, it increases obstruction against water to preserve the soil from high level of erosion.

    ECBs are great alternative to water, soil and wind erosions because they stop water and wind from infiltrating into the soil with multiple features.

    Cost Factors of ECBs

    The installation costs of ECBs can be determined by requirements of land, size of area and the type of product.

    Generally, the products that are long-lasting or have multiple layers with permanent feature cost more in comparison of temporary coverings. Land owners should also evaluate the cost of tamping and grading the area. The blankets can only function appropriately when the soil is compacted well and the heavy rocks are removed.

    Also, the expenses of installation depend on another factor- if the land will be seeded and landscaped simultaneously.

    As mentioned above, the costs of materials for erosion control depend on the area- the national average cost (in the US) for a square foot is around $0.49.

    How to Install Erosion Control Blankets (ECBs)?

    Erosion control blankets (ECBs) solve many of the problems that farmers face on a day-to-day basis. Therefore, they are made in such a way that it is relatively easy to install them.

    Farmers only need to know the correct method to install them properly. The major concern is to make sure the water moves above the blankets. To ensure this, farmers need to adjust them following the steps below:

    • Adjust them on the slope by digging up a small gully over the slope.
    • In that trench or gully, place the top edge of the material.
    • To line with the edge, fold it underneath itself and then fasten it with staples.
    • Fill that trench with the soil to maintain its level.
    • The open edge of that blanket needs to be folded under the other blanket next to it.

    Installation may take less time but requires more focused and proper techniques.

    What is Erosion?

    As a part of geological changes, erosion is the process of wiping out earthen substances. It is a process in which rock, soil, and a few other dissolved materials are eroded from one point to another point. It also includes their transportation by innate energies such as water, wind, or glacial ice.

    The major cause of erosion is “fluid flow”- the agents like air, ice, and water are fluids, they tend to flow from one area to another owing to gravity. When such fluids combine with the earth’s crust, they run it off in the due course.

    The term erosion, in general, applies to the common break down and formation of all landforms; from weathering of rocks on their original location to running of worn matter. Erosion is a term only for the transport of weathered pebbles but not for the deposition of those matters at a fresh spot.

    Naturally, like all other things, erosion is not without disadvantages. It is destructive when it tears down a farmer’s most fruitful land which becomes unproductive. It is also dire when small water creatures are deep buried down among pebbles and rocks since they are a critical part of the food network.

    Additionally, erosion puts many other species at risk. It can carry away nutrients like phosphorus, which cause the demise of fish, algae, and create the dead zones at the bank of rivers.

    Moreover, erosion also has many other potential devastating effects which include danger to plant life and machinery.

    Erosion is a widespread dilemma; it presents a high risk for land. In summer, the intensity of rain in most parts of the world increases the possibility of erosion. Hence, it is imperative to understand the types of erosion and to take the right measures to protect ourselves against it.

    Types of Erosion

    Since erosion is a prevalent problem; it must be controlled in time to avoid calamity. There are many kinds of erosion- stream bank sheet, bed, soil erosion, wind erosion, etc varying based on their patterns and nearby settings. To prevent any type of water, wind, or soil erosion and its adverse effects, it is important to know what each of the kind means and how to manage the soil to ensure prevention from any erosion-related disasters.
    1. Soil Erosion
    Healthy soil is the fundamental concern because our livelihood relies on adequately supervised agriculture which starts with the soil beneath our feet. But what if the soil is unhealthy or unstable? With heavy downpour, ice, water irrigation, wind, and other natural forces causing the soil to erode, detach and eliminate, the soil erosion causes much harm to fertile land. Besides these, it expands pollution and sedimentary substances in rivers and stream side.
    1. Wind Erosion
    Wind erosion is most prone to take place when the sturdy wind blows on light-textured soils, which are profoundly dried due to a high deficiency of water. The wind detaches soil particles from land. Gathering enough soil makes the wind so much abrasive and tough that it has enough power to break down more soil aggregates.  Under certain conditions, it can lead to the destruction of major parts of soil and property. The duration and pace of the wind directly impact the extent of erosion. Since soil surfaces are not rough enough, they show slight resistance to the wind. Ultimately, soil surfaces are filled with dry mud and the unevenness is broken down by graze. The outcome of this process is a flat surface that is inclined to more wind erosion.
    1. Water Erosion
    The more extreme the rainfall is, the higher the possibility of erosion becomes. Water erosion is caused by intense precipitation especially in summer due to the large amounts of rainfalls. It leads to a considerable dilemma of erosion by water. Moreover, with the flowing water, the organic and inorganic materials of soil flow along with the land surface and get deposited to lower landforms. This results in flooding at last. Later, either these eroded soil particles shift to water or construct a new soil.

    Weathering and Erosion

    It is a common misconception to think of weathering and erosion as one. There is a yawning gap between the two processes; while weathering is the breaking of soil and rock into pieces- big or small, erosion is the process of taking those small particles away to some other locations.

    Let’s differentiate between them:

    Firstly, weathering is a word used to define the general process of crushing the rocks from the earth’s surface into elements like clay, mud, sediments, and other materials which can decompose in water. This process naturally begins with the earth’s crust detached by the aforementioned natural forces.

    Once the physical breakdown and chemical decay of uncovered rocks has taken place by weathering, the discharged rock crumbs and sediments are carried away by the process of erosion. Weathering is similar to erosion as both often occur simultaneously; the former involves splitting and dissolving of rocks but does not include movement.

    Weathering of different materials occurs at distinct rates. Even their solubility levels vary; while some minerals take long to dissolve, others dissolve more readily. Calcite is more soluble in water than feldspar is.

    Erosion comes just after weathering. It heavily relies on natural agencies that are important factors to cause the flow of crushed rocks and soil deposits.

    Erosion takes these materials away from a source location to a new site. While transporting the broken rocks, the new rocks are further weathered. With this ongoing process, the hill or the mountain is slowly washed away.

    Weathering, Erosion, and Deposition

    Erosion, weathering, and deposition are part of a cyclical process; they occur one after another.
    As mentioned earlier, weathering is the breakdown of rocks into sediments: small rock particles by natural processing.

    After weathering, erosion begins. It is the process of the transportation of rock particles or sediments from their place to sweeping them away somewhere else.

    Once erosion has done its job, the deposition process starts up.

    The process of deposition is the discharge or release of sediments from erosion operation. Deposition- also known as sedimentation- drops the rock particles at certain locations.

    This process takes place when the acceleration of wind or water lowers causing the fractions to settle. Larger sediments with spherical shapes settle faster than smaller ones of any other shape. The particles with higher density also take less time to settle.

    While the larger sediments are generally deposited on the ground near the shore, smaller ones are deposited on the top at a distance from the shore.

    However, the variable-sized sediments, trapped in glaciers that erode as the result of melting ice, are deposited randomly without any sequence.

    Why should erosion be controlled?

    Due to erosion, billions of tons of topsoil are lost annually. As said by the Department of Agriculture in the United States, soil erosion is a primary calamity for agricultural development.

    Unless it is controlled, it presents potential issues for agriculture since agriculture is the fundamental source of food for organisms.

    Apart from taking away delicate topsoil, erosion is the reason for increasing pollution in landslides and channels as well as threats of flooding. This calls for serious measures for erosion control.

    Erosion control is the practice of controlling wind or water erosion in coastal areas, construction, agriculture, riverbanks, and land. Significant erosion control methods are helpful to prevent surface runoff resulting in the deterrence of other losses such as soil loss, water pollution, and natural habitat loss.

    Erosion spoils crops deriving costly uncertainties and resulting in a necessity of reseeding. Other damaged plants are also susceptible to the entrance of disease which is an enormous decrease in the profit as well as loss of market value and quality of crops. 

    In well-managed forests, soil erosion is tackled and prevented for twofold reasons. The first is to protect soil from erosion to ensure sustainable development of new outgrowths; the second is to protect other resources such as water located in or around forested areas.

    Water erosion is one of the various factors destructive for productive farmland; it ultimately makes the land entirely unfit for agriculture. 

    Here controlling erosion becomes more essential. Erosion is a critical issue for construction sites around the globe. It is essential to control erosion of operating sites because excess sediments, chemicals, construction materials, and all other impurities will be carried into water flow if not controlled in time.

    Importance of Erosion Control

    Erosion control practices are essential because erosion can cause subtle effects on ecosystems and communities. It is also challenging for landscaping, agriculture, and construction companies. 

    If not prevented in time, these companies are likely to suffer great losses. This makes these practices essential for more than a few reasons including the following ones:

    • From maintaining the environment to preserving biodiversity, erosion control actions are beneficial. They can save soil, thousands of species, human property as well as human life only if appropriately carried out in time.
    • Many federal or local regulations need erosion control for several projects. The application of useful erosion control techniques helps your organization remain in compliance.
    • Water erosion makes topsoil unstable; ultimately the increasing water can make its way to buildings or residences. To preserve accommodation and communal lives, using appropriate erosion control measures is crucial.

    Other Types of Products for Erosion Control

    • Single and double net blankets are prepared from softwood cuttings that decay after one or three years.
    • Certified straw with weed-free feature is prepared from wheat and rice, that breaks down shortly to enrich the soil as soon as it dissolves.
    • Coconut coir, among other most enduring alternatives, it is the one with durability of four years to six years. 
    • Jute mats with Burlap style are 100% biodegradable. Their durability- to last either six months or two years- depends on the formation method.

     

    Conclusion:

    We’ve covered what erosion control blankets (ECBs) are and how they can save your soil. It must be clear now that the blankets are the key to protect your land from erosion-related damages. Their use is counted among the best erosion control practices.

    The longer the farmers take to think, the more they put their lands on risk.

    It’s critical to invest in right place by making right choices. Installing erosion control blankets (ECBs) on the area where seeding is done, is the right time to take right measures against erosion. If the area is not covered in time, it is prone to the threat of erosion.

    You can manage your land using erosion control blankets (ECBs); it is cost-effective and easy to install. By keeping the soil coated with erosion control blankets (ECBs), the flow of water decreases which means vegetation is not on threat.  

    If you are working on short projects, use degradable erosion control blankets (ECBs) which easily cover bare soil and provide resistance against temporary wind erosion and raindrop. They are also appropriate for the land where newly planted seeds require short-term coat and maintenance.

    To summarize, if you want to prevent erosion, consider using erosion control blankets (ECBs) to build robust soil protection plan against it. 

    As detailed account of erosion prevention is provided above, farmers can go all the way from understanding their requirements and the formation of ECBs to choosing and installing the most suitable blankets. 

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