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Understanding and Modification of Soils
Soil Preparation
Seed Selection

By Stephen R. Zwilling
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j Planning
j Soil Analysis
j Plant Selection
j Anticipated Hydraulic Impact and Flow
j Selection of Erosion Control Products
j Selection of Sediment control BMP¶s
j Installation
j Maintenance
Ô 



j RECP ± Rolled Erosion Control Products


j SMM ± Stabilized Mulch Matrix
j BFM ± Bonded Fiber Matrix
j FRM ± Reinforced Matrix
j BMP ± Best Management Practice
j RUSLE ± Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation
j C Factor ± Cover Factor used in RUSLE
j Percent Effectiveness ± Inverse of C factor
which relates to product performance

 

 
  
  
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j ]utrients retained and available to plants


j More efficient utilization of nutrients
j Reduced runoff into water bodies
j Response to ]PDES Regulations

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rŒhat should I plant?


rŒhat is my budget?
rHow can it be stabilized?
rŒhat am I trying to achieve on this site?
  

  

  
   & 
 


j Œhat kind soil are you working with?


j How well does it drain or retain water?
j Is a balanced environment ± PH organics?
j Œhat vegetation works well in this soil?
j Œhat is the range of slope gradients?
j Œere are the area¶s of concentrated water flow?
j Œhat am I going to do with the water?
j Œhat are the local sediment control regulations?
j Œhat is the expected precipitation?
j Œhat are my soil management and vegetation
objectives / budget?


Understanding and modification of soils

''



 




j Material Strength
j Infiltration Capacity
j Plant Productivity

Can be altered by the erosion process. Soils


ability to resist stresses can be altered by

j Œeathering and climate


j Pedogenic processes
j Decomposition of organic matter
x 



j Removes the upper layer (A-horizon) of the soil


exposing the (B-horizon) which generally possess
different strength properties.

Accelerated erosion can impact the soils ability to


resist stresses from

j Rainfall impact
j Surface runoff
j Œind erosion
¦  
 

j Ôhe ability of the soil to absorb water is


generally greater in the (A-horizon) than the
(B-horizon)

j Precipitation is then divided into

j Soil Moisture
j Surface Runoff
j Groundwater Runoff



  ! ¦
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j Slow draining compacted soils might only support
hydrophytic (wetland) plants
j Fast draining sandy soils may only support
xerophytic (desert land) plants
j Soil particle-size can dictate plant selection
j Ôhe finer the particle size, the more water
holding capacity because of available surface
area
j Generally soils consisting of 70% sand-size
particles are considered droughty
x

 
 


j `egetation is critical to long-term


erosion control
j Enhance germination by providing the
plant what it needs during first stages
of growth
j Assure long-term plant survivability
j Establishment of healthier vegetation
and less nutrient run-off

 Ô    ( Ô! ) 

r pH
r Organic Matter ± (must be higher than 2%)
r Electrical Conductivity
r Ôotal Dissolved Salts
r Sodium Absorption Ratio
r % Organic Acids
r Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC)
r ]itrogen, Phosphate & Potassium (], P, and K)
Œ!  $
j pH is shorthand for its mathematical
approximation:
j a small ³p´ is used in place of writing ³±
log10´ and the ³H´ represents [H+], the
concentration of hydrogen ions present in the
soil solution
j pH measures the acidity or alkalinity of a
solution
j pH of 7 is neutral
j Each unit is 10 times that of the previous or
next unit
  
   

j Measure of the overall salt content in a soil


j Add distilled water to the soil and measure it¶s
ability to conduct electricity
j A test value above .5 can negatively impact
establishment, higher the number the worse it is,
7 is toxic plants
j Sea water measures 55
Ô
 
  Ô

j Directly related to EC but a different scale


j ÔDS measured by parts per million
j EC of 1.0 x 640 ppm = Ôotal Dissolved Salts
640 ppm
j ÔDS is sometimes stated as Ôotal Soluble
Salts (ÔSS), also Soluble Salts (SS)
x" 
  x 

 "

j Represents the proportion of sodium out of


the total salts in the soil
j Important because sodium can be toxic to plants
j EC of 1.0, contains Ca and Mg ± soil is fine
j EC is 1.0 and it is derived from Sodium it would
be toxic to plants ± SAR measures this
j SAR above 7.0 is toxic to most plants

   *   +
 

j Sodium as a % CEC measures the negative
impact on soil physical properties
j High sodium levels can cause the soil become
nearly impervious to water
j Causes severe compaction issues
j `alues exceeding 15 - 20% can be toxic to
plants
  ) )
j Organic matter in soil is the result of the decay
process
j OM reduces compaction in Clay soils
j OM improves the structure of Sand and Silt,
holding nutrients and moisture
j Low Organic matter means low CEC and a
deficiency in ]itrogen for long term plant heath
j Optimum level is 3 to 5% of the dry weight of
soil
  x x

j Organic Acids is the measurement of the living


biological composition of the soil

j Ôhe value should be 3.0, compare to OM%, if


OM is low and OA is low, the soil is a mineral
based lifeless soil

j OM% is high and OA is low, it still indicates a


lifeless soil that needs a boost in the microbe
population to break down the organic matter.
CEC% Plant
EC1 TDS2 ppm SAR3 Sodium4 OM5 OA6 Sensitivity

´  ´  ´ ´ 

 Moderate
        

 Problematic
  

        Severe
     ´  ´ Critical
Optimal
CEC%
EC1 TDS2 ppm SAR3 Sodium4 OM5 OA6

´  ´
 ´

    Ideal
Toxic
CEC%
EC1 TDS2 ppm SAR3 Sodium4 OM5 OA6

   
7   Toxic

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 3  4 
j pH is second only to moisture availability in
immediate impact on vegetation establishment

j Optimal pH values allow nutrients to be more


readily available to plants

j Important to quickly modify soil pH prior to seed


germination
pH Affects Nutrient Uptake

 
! 
j Add standard lime to raise pH
0 Generally takes several weeks to become active
j Add quick release lime products for
immediate results
0 Liquid or powdered lime products

j Add sulfur to lower pH(2-4 weeks prior to planting)


j Add quick acting soil buffering products
0 Products like Aqua Fix
General USA pH levels

x   
   

  
   
 
 ,*

j Some options for modifying organics

j Amending/blending top soil


j Addition of gypsum
j Addition of Pours ceramics to soils
j Soil penetrators to improve infiltration
j Soil inoculants such as Endo Mycorrihizae
to stimulate hyphae growth
   
 
 

 




  
/

 

! 
  

 


  

 


Soils with high clay content and
salt overload, causes the clay
platelets to move even closer
to each other, forming a 3-D
structure.

  x encourages water


penetration, as it penetrates
the clay particle, it segregates
salts and removes them from
the surface of the platelet, this
action restores the neg charge
to the clay platelet, forming 3-
D structure.

 

  

 
            
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Case Study
—   
 
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Application summer 2008


pH very low - 4.5
Organics very low - 0.9 %

Soil Modifiers Applied


Growth after 6 weeks
)
  
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 ! #

For soil stabilization

j >uick revegetation of
disturbed sites

j Requires selection of
appropriate seed mix

j Soil must have nutritional


value or be amended

j Site specific stabilization


materials are needed to
keep seed in place
 


 


j Cool Season
Ń Ôall Fescue- cool season perennial
Ń Ryegrass- cool season annual
j Œarm Season
Ń Bermuda grass- warm season perennial
Ń Bahia grass- warm season perennial
Ń Brown top Millet- warm season annual
j Slopes
Ń Œeeping Love grass- warm season perennial
Ń Serecia Lespedeza- warm season perennial
0 hulled
0 unhulled
Ń Clovers
0 Œhite Clover- cool season perennial
0 Crimson Clover- annual re-seeding clover
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Œith Erosion Control
=    
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Planning and project phasing


Focus on erosion control measures / backfilling with
sediment management BMP¶s
Understanding hydraulic flows - designing cost effective
conveyances ± stabilizing shorelines and channel flows
Systems to minimize turbidity in transference ± critical
discharge points
Stabilizing soils and effective vegetation establishment
understanding soil profile / plant selection



Ô



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j Splash ± Raindrop impact,
dispersal and mobilization of
soil particles

j Sheet ± Saturated soils, soil


particles entrained in run-off
water, uniform erosion

j Rill ± Increased topographic


relief, Higher run-off
velocities, soil incision

j Gully ± Concentrated flow,


head cutting, down cutting
Œ! ¦  


j Rainfall Intensity and Duration
j Soil erodibility factor
j LS Factor (Flow path / Length & Slope)

x   


    
    
   
  
Ô
 =  
" 

j One square mile area


j 30´ annual rainfall

j Equivalent to 10,000 tons of Ô]Ô

Ref: (Meyer and Renard, 1991)


"   
 5
 & 


A = R x K x LS x C x P
Œhere:
x = computed soil loss per unit area per unit
time for a given storm period and intensity
" = rainfall factor
= = soil erodibility factor
5 = slope length factor
 = steepness factor
 7 


 


= erosion control practice factor
Î |xÔ" ¦ "¦Ô¦x5 |" "¦3
)x3x6 ) 3Ô
Ôhe lower the ´C´ Factor or (Cover Factor) an erosion
control medium has better control of soil loss.
High ³C´ Factor Low ³C´ Factor
 

 


 





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Advantages
Low cost seeding
practice
Fast way of
distributing seed
and mulching

Disadvantages
Poor erosion control qualities
Œeed seed contamination
Messy and can blow away


 + 

Requires a fine graded soil


Requires staples
]eeds good soil contact
Easy to transport
Ideal for areas with critical
slopes
Œide range of choices ±
strength, longevity and
materials
Effective soil stabilization BMP


 
8    
     
 
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 Can be customized site


specific
 Economical way to grow grass
 Provides a wide range of
performance platforms
 Minimal labor ± very efficient
)/ 
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Ôest Plot 1 After 18 Days


(1,500 lbs. mulch)

Ôest Plot 3 After 18 Days


(3,000 lbs. mulch)

Ôest Plot 2 After 18 Days


(2,250 lbs. mulch)
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j Pre-blended for
consistent performance
j ]on-toxic, safe &
biodegradable
j 3 month longevity (one
season)
j Flat pads and moderate
slopes (<2H:1`)
j Laboratory and field
proven performance
+
 |  ) /
j Application rate can be customized to
accommodate steep, rough or irregularly shaped
slopes
j Cost effective versus sod or erosion control
blankets
j Saves time and labor
j Approved by numerous DOÔs and agencies
j ]ot designed for areas of
concentrated water flow
j Functional Longevity -
6 months
|  "
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j Use a fan-type nozzle (50-degree tip) whenever possible
for best soil surface coverage.
j Apply FRM from opposing directions to soil surface reducing
the shadow effect and assuring a minimum of 95% soil
surface coverage.

       




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!! 

 
 




j Rip rap
j Articulated block systems
j Concrete lined channels
j Retaining walls
j Ôurf Reinforcement Mats
 

 


 





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results in a number of segmented
installations
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3DTRM/|RM
|RM

April 2005 August 2005


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General seeding for area¶s 5:1 or less
Seed and Straw / Hydroseeding / broadcast seeding

Slopes 5:1 to 3:1


Seed and Straw with tack / Hydroseeding with tack

Slopes 3:1 to 2:1


Erosion Control Blankets / Bonded Fiber Matrix
ÔRM or FGM

Slopes 2:1 to 1:1


Erosion Control Blankets / ÔRM or FRM

Slopes 1:1 or greater


ÔRM /FRM or structural support
  

 
Understanding soil composition
Ôesting soils and modifying problems
Picking the right vegetation for site conditions
Reducing erosion by installing effective erosion
and sediment control products
Managing areas of concentrated flow
Maintaining good environmental stewardship


 

|

 


 !
 
 
 
  

Stephen Zwilling
Market Development Manager
Profile Products LLC
(704) 840-6770

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