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Erosion Control Systems

Erosion Control Practices or Systems

The following conservation practices are commonly used on crop fields or other lands to reduce erosion, improve soil and water quality, improve plant health, and minimize off-site impacts from excess nutrients, pesticides and sediment.   They are often used in tandem with vegetative or other management practices to increase effectiveness.


Newly Installed Streambank Protection Practice










Streambank Protection Practice at Work


This practice involves planting vegetation on areas with existing or anticipated high rates of erosion or degraded sites that usually can not be stabilized by ordinary conservation treatment and/or management, and if left untreated, could be severely damaged by erosion or sedimentation or could cause significant off-site damage.  The practice is used on sites that have physical, chemical or biological conditions that prevent the establishment of vegetation using normal methods. 


A diversion is a channel constructed across the slope with a supporting ridge on the lower side to divert excess water from one area for use or safe disposal in other areas.  This practice is used to control damage caused by runoff or shallow subsurface flow on cropland, grazing land, farm-steads, feedlots, or conservation practices, or where a diversion is required as part of a pollution abatement system.  


A grade stabilization structure is used to control grade and head cutting in natural or artificial channels.  They are installed to stabilize the channel grade and control erosion to prevent the formation or advance of gullies and head cuts.  The practice is used in areas where structures are necessary to stabilize the site. 


A grassed waterway is a natural or constructed channel established in suitable vegetation for safe water disposal.  Waterways are constructed to convey runoff from terraces, diversions, or other concentrated flow areas where erosion control is needed.  Grassed waterways also improve or help protect water quality by filtering sediment and nutrients.  Grassed waterways are generally planted to perennial grass. 


A waterway or outlet structure having an erosion resistant lining of concrete, stone, or other permanent material. The purpose of the practice is to provide protection to the structure when grass cover would not be sufficient or sustainable.  This practice applies to waterways or outlets that need a lining of non-reinforced, cast in place concrete, rock riprap, or similar permanent linings.


This practice is a constructed basin designed to collect and store waterborne debris or sediment.  Sediment basins are often installed to protect the natural resources until vegetation or structures are installed to control the source of sediment. 


Using vegetation or structural techniques to stabilize and protect banks of streams, lakes, or excavated channels against scour and erosion.  This practice applies to natural or excavated channels where the streambanks are susceptible to erosion from water, ice, debris, or to damage from livestock or vehicular traffic.  It also applies to controlling erosion on shorelines where the problem can be solved with relatively simple structural measures, or vegetation. 


This practice is a structure that conveys water, controls the direction or rate of flow, or maintains a desired water surface elevation.  These structures are used to control the stage, discharge, distribution, delivery, or direction of flow in open channels or water use areas. This practice may be used to improve water quality by reducing sedimentation, to regulate water temperatures for fish, or as part of a wildlife project, for flow control, or water level regulation. 


 A conduit installed beneath the ground surface to collect surface water and convey it to a suitable outlet.  An underground outlet is often used to safely transport excess water from other conservation practices such as waterways, diversions, and surface drains when surface outlets are impractical because of stability problems, climatic conditions, land use, farmability, or equipment traffic. 


An earth embankment or combination ridge and channel constructed across the slope and minor water courses to form a sediment trap and water detention basin. The purpose of this practice is to reduce watercourse and gully erosion, trap sediment, reduce and manage onsite and downstream runoff, and improve water quality.  


For additional information related to these conservation practices, visit the Vermont NRCS Conservation Practice Information web page.



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