Soil Erosion

Grade Stabilization Structures

grade stabilizationA grade control structure is used to control the grade and head cutting in natural or artificial channels. The purpose of these structures is to stabilize the grade and control erosion in natural or artificial channels, with a combination of earth embankments, mechanical spillways and full-flow or detention-type structures. Grade stabilization structures are used to achieve the following:

  • Prevent the formation or advance of gullies
  • Enhance environmental quality and reduce pollution hazards
  • Lower water from a field elevation, surface drain, or waterway with a side-inlet structure to a channel


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Water & Sediment Control Basins

Water and sediment control basins (WASCOBs) consist of an embankment across the slope of a field or minor waterway to temporarily detain and release water through a piped outlet or through infiltration. They are constructed perpendicular to the flow direction and parallel to each other. WASCOBs are usually installed in areas where the land is relatively steep and undulating.


WASCOBs are used to improve the ability to farm sloped land and to reduce erosion on farmland and waterways. They are useful in managing hydrology by controlling downstream flow rates, thereby reducing erosion. A buffer of permanent vegetation surrounding risers can help to filter sediment and pollutants.


Similarly, a sediment basin is a basin constructed with an engineered outlet, formed by excavation or use of an embankment, or a combination of the two. A sediment basin may also be utilized for the purpose of nutrient removal.


A sediment basin functions by detaining sediment or nutrient-laden water for sufficient time to attain a desired level of treatment. Sediment basins may be used in agricultural or urban locales and are used to treat water from disturbed areas or construction sites, either on a temporary or a permanent basis.



Water & Sediment Control Basins

sediment basin

Sediment Basin


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Windbreaks & Shelterbelts


Field windbreaks are linear plantings of trees/shrubs designed to reduce wind speed in open fields, preventing soil erosion and protecting adjacent crops from wind damage. Windbreaks are typically planted in multiple rows perpendicular to prevailing winds. On the downwind side of a well-established windbreak, wind is generally slowed for a distance of 10 times the height of the trees. Old field windbreaks may need renovation to function properly, including removal and replacement of selected trees/shrubs.


Shelterbelts are windbreaks designed to protect farmsteads and livestock from wind and blowing snow. They can also be used to protect wildlife wintering areas. One or more rows of trees/shrubs are planted around the north and west sides of a farmstead or feedlot, surrounding it partly (often in an L-shape) or more completely, like a squarish belt. Shelterbelts protect farmsteads and livestock from blowing wind and also save energy.


Living snow fences, a type of windbreak, are trees/shrubs planted strategically along roads to trap snow and keep it from blowing and drifting on roads or driveways. Old living snow fences may need renovation, including removal and replacement of selected trees/shrubs, to continue working properly.


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