Where Does It All Go?

| Fertilizers. Insecticides. Fungicides. These are some of the many substances—collectively known as agrochemicals—farmers apply to crops to increase production and prevent losses. They’re necessary, if at times potentially overapplied, but there is increasing concern about where they eventually end up and what effect they’re having on groundwater and surface water, especially on potential drinking water ... READ MORE

Seeding for Progress and Restoration

| The Palouse region of eastern Washington is known as one of the most fertile expanses of land in the world, with rich topsoil plunging to a depth of 100 feet or more. As Kurt Merg, vegetation ecologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, explains, it is one of the best wheat growing regions on the planet. He notes that the abundance of soil resulted from Pleistocene winds, which carried fine particulates north and east into what is now eastern Washington from what is now Oregon, eventually accumulating in dune-like hills. Precipitation arrives on these hills mostly in winter, with annual totals approximately doubling (14 to 30 inches) from the western to eastern margins of the region, respectively. Much of this water is captured in the deep Palouse soils. Less than 1% of Palouse Prairie remains, making it one of the most imperiled habitats on Earth. Most of the Palouse is now devoted to cultivation of row crops, especially wheat. ... READ MORE

Post-Fire Erosion Control Methods

| In total, the North Bay fires of 2017 burned about 40,000 acres. The southern California fires were even larger, totaling 1 million acres. The fires burned a wide variety of landscapes, including whole neighborhoods in flat, urbanized areas. Unlike rural areas, these areas are served by urban infrastructure, including storm drain systems, which tie into natural waterways such as creeks, rivers, bays, and oceans. As part of the engineering community, we observed that the potential for mobilization of ash from burned lots posed a major challenge for communities recovering from urban fires. This article is intended for professionals interested in erosion control and water-quality issues in post-fire areas. ... READ MORE

The Benefits of Engineered Soils

| Engineered soil: it sounds like a new concept, but one historical record notes it is more than 1,000 years old. In the sixth century AD, a group of ascetic monks left the lush, green mainland of Ireland seeking a new, remote environment to practice their dedication and humility. Braving the North Sea, they landed on Skellig Michael, "bristling lava cliffs and wrinkled glaciers coming down to the sea," which could not have offered a more challenging opportunity for survival. Scoured by glaciers in earlier millennia, it was a punishing environment where little grew. The monks created arable soil by mixing sand and seaweed on the limestone karst, enabling them to grow vegetables. It worked, and the concept spread; the practice of mixing sand and seaweed to grow potatoes persisted through the 1700s. ... READ MORE

Options for Dust Control

| EPA has a commonly accepted statement on dust: “One car making one pass on one mile of dirt or gravel road one time each day for one year creates one ton of dust.” It doesn’t have a comparable statement regarding horses, but a similar calculation might be possible. ... READ MORE

As Nutritious as Cardboard

| They might have saved large swaths of Texas from blowing away during the Dust Bowl in the 1930s, but today they’re unwelcome tenants—interlopers from another time and place. Two types of grass, one originally from China and the other from South Africa, are taking over the southeastern part of the state. Known, respectively, as King ... READ MORE

Hydroseeding Equipment for Large Jobs

| In hydroseeding projects, it's not only critical what product is applied, but the equipment used to apply it. Time is of the essence, and having equipment with the power to cover large areas in a small amount of time is necessary not only in emergency jobs, but also in day-to-day projects that enable contractors to gain time and financial efficiencies. ... READ MORE

Solutions for Healthy Soil

| It's an entertaining and yet shocking pastime to read vintage advertisements. Today, we shake our heads in amazement at bygone celebrities who extol the relaxing and "digestive benefits" promised by smoking a particular brand of cigarette, at manufacturers who quaintly promote a children's "lead party" with their paint icons, and at a charming toddler whose bathing suit is pulled by an equally charming puppy revealing her tan, the benchmark of healthful sun worshipping for decades. ... READ MORE

Revegetating After a Wildfire

| It was in June 2013 that the 3,200-acre Royal Gorge fire broke out near Cañon City, CO, situated about 45 miles southwest of Colorado Springs. The wildfire destroyed almost everything in its path (48 out of 52 structures in Royal Gorge Park were lost), although surprisingly it spared the Royal Gorge Bridge above the Arkansas River. Of the 1,292 wooden planks that make up the bridge, only 32 were destroyed. ... READ MORE

How Policy and Funding Changes May Impact Water Quality Programs

| Over the last few decades, the successes of regulations like the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act have led to improvements in air and water quality. With recent changes in the political climate, and with some seeking to reduce regulations and cut funding sources, many groups are looking at how policy and funding changes might affect existing programs. ... READ MORE