Field evaluation of hydromulches for water quality and vegetation establishment.
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Field evaluation of hydromulches for water quality and vegetation establishment.

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  • English

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    • Abstract:
      Soil erosion and sediment pollution can be major problems in and around construction sites due to land disturbing activities that leave areas of

      unprotected soil during active construction. Establishing vegetation to control erosion can be difficult due to poor soil, steep slopes, and no

      irrigation. Our study was conducted on five construction sites in North Carolina to evaluate different mulch treatments on steep slopes for erosion

      control and vegetative establishment. Site 1 was located in the Coastal Plain region near Kinston, Site 2 was located in the mountain region near

      West Jefferson, and the remaining three were in the Piedmont near Raleigh. Of the five, two were 2:1 cut slopes and three were 2:1 fill slopes.

      On all sites the area was divided into 20 plots that were either 3 m wide and 6 m long (site 2) or 3 m wide and 9 m long (sites 1, 3 and 4). After

      seeding a grass mixture, erosion control treatments were applied in a randomized complete block design and included: 3,000 kg ha-1


      straw+tackifier (straw) and 3,000 kg ha-1

      wheat straw+ tackifier with 22.4 kg ha-1

      of granular, linear, anionic polyacrylamide (straw+PAM) were

      applied at all four sites; 3,900 kg ha-1 flexible growth medium (FGM) and 3,900 kg ha-1 stabilized mulch matrix (SMM) were applied at three

      sites; 3,900 kg ha-1 bonded fiber matrix (BFM), 2,800 kg ha-1 wood fiber/cellulosic blend (WCB) and 3,360 kg ha-1 wood fiber mulch (WFM)

      were applied at two sites. Runoff volumes, turbidity levels, eroded sediment and nutrient concentration data were collected after natural rain

      events, and grass growth and cover was evaluated once it reached a height of 4-5” (10-12 cm). At site 2, there were no differences between

      treatments most likely due to the combination of sandy soil texture (average 72% sand) and relatively light rainfall events that occurred there. At

      site 3, there was a trend of straw having higher runoff volume, turbidity, TSS and in general higher concentrations and amount of nutrient loss

      compared to all hydromulch treatments, and straw+PAM having higher losses than FGM. In contrast, at site 4 the straw treatment reduced runoff

      compared to FGM, WCB and WFM, while the only difference between treatments in reducing nutrient loss was between straw+PAM and WFM

      for total phosphorus (TP). The same trend of WFM and WCB ground covers producing higher turbidity, TSS and TSL compared to straw and

      straw+PAM was found on site 5. Addition of PAM did not have an effect on runoff volumes at any site, with turbidity reductions evident at two

      sites but only for individual storms and no significant reduction overall. Sites 2 and 4 had poor grass establishment with grass cover of <50%,

      while sites 3 and 5 had good grass establishment (67 and 85% cover, respectively). The reason for lower grass establishment under the

      hydromulches at some sites was explored further in a greenhouse study where our objective was to determine the effects of mulch type and rate

      on grass growth, resistance to penetration, and moisture holding capacity. The results suggest that straw may maintain sufficient soil moisture for

      plant growth for a longer period than hydromulch. Of the three grasses tested, tall fescue was inhibited by BFM but not FGM at recommend

      application rates or higher, while centipede and Bermuda grass had the same or higher growth as rates increased.

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