Streambank Erosion Associated with Grazing Practices in Central Kentucky
ASAE/CSAE Annual International Meeting , 2004

Agouridis, C.T., Edwards, D.R., Workman, S.R., Bicudo, J.R., Taraba, J.L., Vanzant, E., Gates, R.S.

Research into the effects of cattle grazing on stream health has been well documented in the western portion of the United States, but is lacking in the east. Western researchers have estimated that 80% of the damage incurred by stream and riparian systems in these arid environments was from grazing livestock. Stream and riparian damage resulting from grazing includes alterations in watershed hydrology, changes to stream morphology, soil compaction and erosion, destruction of vegetation, and water quality impairments. The objective of this project was to provide the agricultural community with a better understanding of the impacts of cattle grazing on stream bank erosion so as to enhance current cattle production methods on farms in the humid region of the U.S. The project site, located on the University of Kentucky’s Animal Research Center, consisted of two replications of three treatments: control, selected BMPs with free access to the stream, and selected BMPs with limited access to the stream. Fifty permanent cross sections were established throughout the project site. Over a two year period, 18 surveys were conducted using conventional surveying techniques. Changes in stream cross sectional area were used to quantify soil loss or gain associated with the different treatment levels Results from this project indicated that streambank erosion can be minimized though the incorporation on a BMP system (with or without a fenced riparian area). In the absence of a protected riparian zone, grazing managers should modify their practices to minimize cattle activity (i.e. flash grazing, no grazing), and associated erosion along streambanks, during periods characterized by higher flows and/or hot humid conditions.