Q: I recently had a landowner ask me to seed his roads after we moved off his property. Is seeding in his roads going to be enough to stop erosion, and how do I know what to seeds to plant?
A: Seeding or revegetation of disturbed areas is an excellent erosion control tool. The objective of seeding is to quickly establish a ground cover that will hold the soil together under most conditions. Seed selection is important and you should consider the season, soil type and the availability of sunlight to the seeding area. To get the best results, it is sometimes necessary to use a combination of seeds. There is a section (begins on page 61) in the Texas Forestry Best Management Practices Book, the “Blue Book,” that addresses revegetation of disturbed areas. This section also provides information about which type of grasses and legumes are best suited for the different soil types; sands, loams, and clays. It provides information about the optimum planting dates and growing seasons for each of the recommended grasses and legumes. Seeding is usually more successful in the spring and fall. There are a couple of different methods of seeding including; broadcast, sprigging and drilling. The most common technique of seeding is the broadcast method. Broadcast seed can be covered by dragging a chain or brush to ensure good seed contact with the soil (1/2 to 1 inch deep). The use of fertilizer is often recommended when seeding. Care should be taken to insure that the fertilizer does not enter a stream. Avoid applying fertilizer in streamside management zones (SMZs). Another important factor to keep in mind the topography or slope of the land. Steep or hilly slopes will require more than seeding. Your experience should tell you what and how many other erosion control structures are necessary to stabilize the roads.
Your experience on each site will tell you that it depends on a number of factors as to whether or not seeding the road is going to reduce erosion. Seeding the roads can be very effective when used alone or in combination with other BMPs. I would also recommend that prior to seeding, you check with the landowner to see if he/she has a specific seed in mind. Seeding the road in can provide some wildlife benefits and can act as a large food plot. You may even be able to convince the landowner to buy or share the cost of the seed.
If you have a BMP question you would like answered, please contact me.
* This article was published in the August 2000 issue of the Texas Logger