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New Way To Reserve Gully Erosion
Attorney John Nolan took over management of a farm near Iowa City, Iowa, with severely eroded gullies.
  "I tried several methods to stop the erosion, including laying out big sheets of plastic and partially burying old tires," he says. "I finally tried filling woven plastic fiber sacks with soil and staking those down in the gullies."
  The bags formed a barrier that caused runoff water to back up, allowing sediment to settle out so that the area upstream from the dam began to fill in. There were still problems with washouts, however.
  After a bit of experimentation, he determined that by placing the bags in the center of his dam further upstream, so the dam was somewhat V-shaped with the point heading upstream, runoff water that ponded behind the dam flowed over better, with zero washing around the edges.
  Nolan buries a length of perforated plastic drain tile beneath the dam to allow water to drain slowly out of the dam, allowing the soil to dry more quickly between rains.
  By making several of these dams a few yards apart, Nolan was able to totally check the gully erosion. "As the soil filled in and leveled off in the terrace above each dam, I'd add another level of bags on top of the first. Gradually, the gullies began filling up and I could actually seed over them to make grass waterways," he says.
  In a gully Nolan estimated to be about 20 ft. deep, his series of dams has built up about 3 ft. of soil in just three years.
  Nolan seeds Reed's Canary grass on the sediment terraces. "It's a hardy grass with fibrous roots, so it also helps slow erosion. And it will survive low doses of most farm chemicals where other grasses might be harmed by them," he says.
  "Then I read that poultry feathers make good filters of farm and feedlot chemicals," Nolan continues. That prompted him to put a blanket of chicken feathers on the sediment terrace above each of his dams. Sure enough, the feathers filtered the water better and the gullies filled even faster.
  After researching other methods for controlling gully erosion, Nolan determined that what he had devised worked better, was significantly different and was quite simple to build. He named it Silt Terrace Erosion Prevention (STEP) and applied for a patent in January, 1999. His patent was granted in November, 2001.
  He's currently licensing his system. For a $50 fee, he'll train the licensee on building a STEP system and grant him/her the right to use or install the system as prescribed in his patent. The license fee will also enable the licensee to sell licenses to others.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, John T. Nolan, 22 East Court Street, Iowa City, Iowa 52240 (ph 319 351-0222).

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2003 - Volume #27, Issue #1