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RMRS-GTR-94: Silt fences: an economical technique for measuring hillslope soil erosion

Robichaud, Peter R.; Brown, Robert E. 2002. Silt fences: an economical technique for measuring hillslope soil erosion. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-94. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 24 p.

Measuring hillslope erosion has historically been a costly, time-consuming practice. An easy to install low-cost technique using silt fences (geotextile fabric) and tipping bucket rain gauges to measure onsite hillslope erosion was developed and tested. Equipment requirements, installation procedures, statistical design, and analysis methods for measuring hillslope erosion are discussed. The use of silt fences is versatile; various plot sizes can be used to measure hillslope erosion in different settings and to determine effectiveness of various treatments or practices. Silt fences are installed by making a sediment trap facing upslope such that runoff cannot go around the ends of the silt fence. The silt fence is folded to form a pocket for the sediment to settle on and reduce the possibility of sediment undermining the silt fence. Cleaning out and weighing the accumulated sediment in the field can be accomplished with a portable hanging or platform scale at various time intervals depending on the necessary degree of detail in the measurement of erosion (that is, after every storm, quarterly, or seasonally). Silt fences combined with a tipping bucket rain gauge provide an easy, low-cost method to quantify precipitation/hillslope erosion relationships. Trap efficiency of the silt fences are greater that 90 percent efficient, thus making them suitable to estimate hillslope erosion.

Keywords: silt fence, erosion, erosion rate, sediment, measurement techniques, monitoring

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Title: RMRS-GTR-94: Silt fences: an economical technique for measuring hillslope soil erosion
Electronic Publish Date: August 5, 2002
Last Update:
January 25, 2012

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