What Prevents Erosion Best?

This summer, I was fortunate to be offered an opportunity to work on an independent research project with the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District. I was able to choose an area of focus for the following ten weeks, where I would then collect and analyze data to further my understanding of my research topic.

Having had an interest in soil quality and conservation for some time, I chose to perform research on the efficacy of erosion control methods under simulated rain and gravity erosion environments. With assistance from the Educational Specialist from the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District, I was able to plan out the set up of my project last week.

Here is a brief overview of my project’s set up with four bins:

In each bin, filled with topsoil, I placed four erosion prevention methods on top of the soil. Those methods were: Creeping Jenny ground cover plants, small rocks, dried hay, and mulch.

One section was reserved for the control, where nothing was placed on top of the soil. Every two days, I would use a watering bucket to simulate rain on each of the four bins. However, in order to measure the efficacy of each erosion control method in water erosion, I watered both a five-degree and ten-degree bin at a height of one foot. Then, I watered both a five-degree and ten-degree bin at a height of two feet. This way, I could analyze which erosion method worked better under intense rain conditions, and also which method worked better on a steeper slope. 

Several goals I have for my project are 1) to understand the causes and effects of erosion and 2) to find out how different erosion prevention methods work in different types of erosion (water and gravity). Hopefully, by the end of the ten-week period, I can measure the overall change in the slope of the soil in each section and be able to observe if there are any dramatic differences. In the future, I plan to apply any information I find from my research to actual erosion sites to efficiently prevent soil erosion. Although my project does not fully encompass all possible erosion factors, I will still be able to gain a deeper understanding of erosion treatment and soil protection in environments where erosion is created by rainwater and steepness of a slope.

This is currently my first week starting this project, and in the next several weeks, I will write an update about some noticeable changes in the elapsed time. It is also possible that in a few weeks, the changes will be indiscernible, and more time would be required to observe any slope changes.

Thank you for reading my first blog post! In the future, I will be posting more about my environmental projects and learning experiences. Also, be sure to check out the “My Environmental Projects” tab to view pictures of this research project!