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Summer storm season brings warning to protect soil

QMDC Soil Conservation Officer Doug Muller inspects the severe gully erosion on a property at Talwood, QLD where QMDC developed a soil conservation plan.
QMDC Soil Conservation Officer Doug Muller inspects the severe gully erosion on a property at Talwood, QLD where QMDC developed a soil conservation plan. Contributed

THE summer storm season will soon be here and BioScience Australia is urging people to cover their earth with turf.

BioScience Australia director Shane Holborn said exposed soil was the greatest cause of soil erosion in Australia, with millions of tonnes of soil material eroded from farmland, construction sites, mine sites and housing developments, as well as public open space areas such as parks and gardens.

"Soil erosion is a major problem which is dramatically increased over the storm season, where regular, heavy falls of rain can literally move tonnes of material overnight from unprepared land," he said.

"The soil material and the contaminants that are associated with erosion usually enter waterways, where they cause the biggest environmental problems, but also deposit in gutters and drains, which cost councils and subsequently ratepayers a substantial amount each year to maintain.

"There are also substantial fines associated for the companies responsible if they are found liable for any incident."

Mr Holborn is the project leader for the Erosion and Sediment Control Demonstration Facility based at Cleveland in Queensland.

The facility demonstrates "erosion in action" via regular workshops for the construction, mining, engineering and landscaping industries, as well as federal, state and local government representatives.

Soil movement and loss from rainfall runoff is simulated during practical demonstrations.

The site also compares the effectiveness of turfgrass to that of other measures, such as sediment fences, coconut (coir) fibre logs, hydro-seeded mulch and silt bags, to illustrate their performance under field conditions.

Although each erosion control product has its place, research has proven that there is no substitute for a full cover of vegetation.

Topics:  erosion soil health storms