Erosion control is the practice of preventing or controlling wind or water erosion in agriculture, land development, coastal areas, riverbanks, and construction. This is especially important for vineyards, not only because surface runoff and the resulting soil erosion are the principal means by which fertilizers and pesticide residue applied to a vineyard move offsite, but soil erosion has also been found to reduce the productivity of vines.
Best Time to Install Conservation Strategies
There are several factors that determine the rates of erosion, including amount and intensity of rainfall, soil type, slope length and steepness, type of crop (vineyards have a lower crop factor than annually seeded crops), and management practices. The best time to consider and install soil conservation strategies is during the planning and layout design stage of the vineyard. For example, planting vineyard rows that run across the slope rather than up and down the slope can reduce erosion by up to 50 percent. Consulting a good soil conservation professional or engineer can be extremely helpful in the early planning stages.
Temporary Erosion Control Methods
In addition to good pre-planning during the installation of the vineyard, several temporary methods of erosion control can be implemented during each growing season to further reduce run-off. Cover crops, which break the force of raindrops before they reach the soil, can be planted in late summer/early fall to protect against winter run-off. Other methods of erosion control which either divert excess water around the vineyard or slow the runoff out of the vineyard, are often implemented immediately post-harvest.
Common Erosion Control & Prevention Supplies
The most requested post-harvest erosion control product in Napa Valley, CA is the Straw Wattle. Wattles are man-made tubes of compressed straw that provide perimeter protection along contours or at the base of slopes to reduce soil erosion, runoff and retain sediment. Wattles can also act as a ponding device to keep sediment-laden water from leaving the site. Temporary ponding behind wattles allows seed and sediment to drop out of suspension and create an enhanced seedbed.
At A&J Vineyard Supply our wattles are densely filled with certified noxious weed-free rice straw in a continuous biodegradable, photodegradable burlap tubing material. The standard size is 9” nominal diameter x 25’ length. Sold individually or by the pallet (12 wattles per pallet), each wattle weighs approximately 40 pounds each and can be expected to retain its functionality for 18-24 months. Wooden wattle stakes are recommended to secure the wattle in place and prevent it from being carried away by water and debris. Wattle stakes may consist of fir, redwood, cedar or pine and are cut to 1” x 1” x 18” with one pointed and one straight cut end. Available in bundles of 50, wattle stakes weigh approximately 0.3 pounds each. Straw wattles and wattle stakes can generally be found in stock at A&J Vineyard Supply from late July thru November.
Straw bales can also be ordered at A&J Vineyard Supply, by the full load only, for direct delivery to your vineyard site. 256 bales per load, they are available in rice or wheat straw and can be blown or distributed with a pitchfork across the vineyard floor to slow down the flow of water during a heavy rain event. Straw in row middles can also act as a cover crop by reducing the force of raindrops and conserving soil moisture.