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Grade Stabilization Turf Reinforcement Mat

Grade Stabilization: Turf Reinforcement Mat

By Bradley J. Younker, Agricultural Engineer
 Natural Resources Conservation Service
LaCrosse, Kansas

Do you have large gullies running through your field? Are you losing more and more of your rangeland or cropland to large headcuts working back up into your field? Have you wondered how you can solve these growing problems? Are these areas becoming a safety issue?

gully erosionGrade stabilization structures are used to protect the soil from gully erosion or scouring. These structures can be a drop spillway, a small dam and basin with a pipe outlet, or a lined waterway protected by rock or turf reinforcement mat.

Grade stabilization structures can be used in all different types of situations. They can be used to take out a 2-foot drop or a 15-foot drop in the channel. Grade stabilization structures decrease the erosive water flow to where the existing channel is stable again. Headcuts can occur anywhere but are prevalent along creek and river banks where the channel is deeply incised. Drainage areas for the structures can also vary greatly from 20 acres to 1000 plus acres.

Typically the most inexpensive cost alternative is to use a lined waterway covered with permanent Turf Reinforcement Mat (TRM). A TRM is composed of permanent high strength polypropylene matting. TRMs on average are installed at a third of the cost of rock or concrete chutes.

Installed turf reinforcement mat in Smith County, KansasThe lined waterway or chute is shaped and seeded prior to the installation of the TRM. The seed mix used is typically the same that is used in other waterway installations. Once grass is established, the TRM can handle water flow velocities of 25 feet per second.

For more information on grade stabilization structures and turf reinforcement mat, please contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office or conservation district office located at your local county U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Service Center (listed in the telephone book under United States Government or on the internet at More information is also available on the Kansas Web site at Follow us on Twitter @NRCS_Kansas. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.