Hydrologic and Water Quality Aspects of Using a Compost/Mulch Blend for Erosion Control

Eck, B., Barrett, M., McFarland, A.M.S., Hauck, L.

Construction projects often expose large amounts of soil to erosive forces of wind and rain. These areas must be stabilized and vegetated before a Notice of Termination can be submitted to regulators. The objectives of this project were to compare the stabilization performance of two types of compost wood mulch blend top dressing low and high organic matter , a wood based hydromulch, and seeded bare soil and to determine the amount of sediment and nutrients exported from each type of treatment. Ten test plots 12.2 2.4 m2 were constructed at a quarry in Parker County, Texas and outfitted with runoff capture systems. Runoff quality and quantity was evaluated for 2 years after installation. Sediment discharge was reduced by 98% on the compost/mulch blend plots and about 75% with hydromulch treatment compared to bare plots. Treatments reduced nutrient loads, although runoff concentrations of nitrate and dissolved P from compost treated plots were often higher than from bare soil or hydromulch plots.