Compost Utilization for Erosion Control

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What Is Compost?
Composting is the controlled biological process of decomposition and recycling of organic material into a humus rich soil amendment known as compost. Mixed organic materials (Example: manure, yard trimmings, food waste, biosolids) must go through a controlled heat process before they can be used as high quality, biologically stable and mature compost (otherwise it is just mulch, manure or byproduct). Compost has a variety of uses and is known to improve soil quality and productivity as well as prevent and control erosion.
What Is Erosion?
Erosion is the detachment and movement of soil by moving water, wind or ice. When raindrops hit an uncovered soil surface, they dislodge and detach soil particles (splash erosion). If there is more rainfall than the ground can absorb, the resulting runoff carries these detached soil particles away.
Erosion is a natural process that cannot be stopped; however, human activity such as earthmoving and tillage can accelerate the process. The erosion process advances through several stages.
Sheet erosion is the removal of a fairly uniform layer of soil from the soil surface by shallow overland flow.
Rill erosion occurs as shallow sheet flow concentrates into small channels. Flow in these channels causes further erosion and carries soil particles away.
Gully erosion is an accelerated form of rill erosion where the channels are much deeper and carry away larger quantities of soil.
Raindrop impact on bare soil surface can also form a "crust" or pan on the soil surface that can be difficult for water to infiltrate. This creates more runoff and less water available to plants, which can decrease plant growth and ground cover leading to further erosion.

Mark Risse
Britt Faucette
University of Georgia