Erosion and Sediment Control
Vegetation Success as Temporary and Permanent Stabilization
The principles and theory of vegetation establishment are often times not well understood. This lack of awareness and lack of understanding leads to the under-utilization of vegetation as a temporary stabilization Best Management Practice.
Large scale construction projects have an opportunity to implement greater soil containment on project sites by establishing vegetation. Establishing vegetation allows for cost savings when compared to erosion control blankets or erosion control mats. Vegetation also has the potential to sequester atmospheric carbon, reducing the project’s carbon impact.
Understanding the science of the site is foundational to navigating the principles and theory of vegetation establishment. The science of the site begins with an understanding of the type of disturbance has taken place throughout the project. Having access to the site’s grading plan allows for one to understand the cut areas and the fill areas. Often times the cut areas will function and respond different from the fill areas due to the soil chemical and soil physical properties.
Topsoil sampling provides an opportunity to understand the depths in which the top soil should be harvested throughout the project. Topsoil stockpiling methods can significantly negatively impact the soil biota. If soil biota is compromised having a plan to reintroduce life into the soil is paramount.
Seed to soil contact is essential for germination and establishment. Seeding methods differ in their ability to accomplish seed to soil contact. Terrain and site stability may limit or influence the seeding method of choice. When confronted with a project that limits seeding methods to only those that experience a reduced seed to soil contact efficacy, increasing the seeding rate to compensate for the reduced efficacy is the proper technique.
Understanding the mechanical equipment that accomplishes seed to soil contact is key to one's ability to hire contractors, oversee projects, or implement projects. Knowing the right piece of equipment to use based on the site will largely determine project success. Site stability will dictate the success of the project. Therefore, the use of soil stabilization methods and equipment are essential as a prerequisite to seeding.
Knowing the effect of the disturbance to the soil structure will allow for the vegetation plan to take into account soil infiltration rate, soil health, soil chemical properties, soil physical properties, stabilization requirements, fertility requirements, seed bed preparation, and weed management. Understanding these variables allow for the most sound, science-based techniques to be used in establishing temporary and permanent vegetation cover.