Seeding and mulching erodable soils after timber
This web article explains
how forest workers and landowners can use grass-like seed and
mulch to control erosion after a timber harvest.
Seeding and mulching
idea behind seeding forest roads, landings, and unprotected slopes
is to encourage the development of dense roots that bind the
soil, holding it in place, no matter the weather. Think of
seeding as a way of improving the absorbency of forest soils.
Mulching - with straw, woodchips, bark, or synthetic netting -
retains soil and moisture for the growth of these grasses and
Mulch can be used without
seeding if natural regeneration is desired. In these cases, wood
chips or hay mulch will help protect the soil for weeks
or months after logging is completed.
The process of seeding a logging
work site requires:
1. Engineering to control the
eroding force of water
2. Liming the soil to improve the pH level
3. Fertilizing the soil
4. Applying seed, and
5. Mulching the seed.
The top priority is to make sure
seed comes in substantial contact with the surrounding soil, not
just scattered on the surface. Hay mulch can contain its own seeds.
Liming and fertilizing are important, but can be minimized if
cost is a consideration.
practices for seeding and mulching
areas for seeding
Inspect a completed timber harvest, looking for exposed, sloping,
or erosion-prone soils. Very often, this is soil not protected
by a canopy of trees, saplings, and shrubs. Mark these areas with
a new color of flagging to make clear where seeding should be
applied. Landings and approaches to landings should always be
seeded when equipment moves on. Sometimes, the seeding will be
necessary in clearings to attract wildlife (requested by landowner).
Staff from the Soil
and Water Conservation District can visit the site and help identify
which areas should be seeded.
If the site has been
harvested in the winter, apply a layer of woodchip mulch to provide
at least some protection to the soil until seed can be applied.
a good seed mixture
Seeds should encourage the growth of grasses and related plants
in sunny or partly sunny areas. The mixture will have fast-germinating
seeds that develop substantial root systems, and slower-germinating
seeds that will take over and stabilize the site for years to
come. In NY, a blend of annual ryegrass, creeping fescue, perennial
ryegrass, redtop , and white clover makes an effective mix. Many
sites are also successfully seeded with Lathco flatpea, which
can tolerate shady onditions and still grow with vigor. Check
with an Extension specialist, Soil and Water Conservation technician,
or seed supplier for the most appropriate blend in your area.
When in doubt, apply a general conservation mix.
Prepare the site
to be seeded
First, control and slow down water that might flow through newly
seeded area with a water bar, turnout, or other water control
technique. Re-spread topsoil to provide a fertile base. Test the
soil for fertilizer or liming needs. Remove surface debris and
spread the seed by hand or with a broadcast spreader.
with the county Soil and Water Conservation District for information
on conservation seeding and special hydroseeding equipment they
may have to borrow.