Significant soil erosion caused by natural and human activities has severely reduced the topsoil on many of Fort Hood's training areas. In many of the affected areas, only parent material is available as a medium for vegetative growth. These soil materials are not conducive to establishment and sustainability of desirable vegetation, the primary factor in battling the erosive processes of wind and water.
In an effort to reduce the impacts of soil erosion on water quality, both on the installation and in surrounding water sources, the Rangeland Revegetation Pilot Project is studying the efficacy of adding soil amendments (composted dairy manure) as a means to revitalize severely impacted landscapes and provide a significantly more conducive environment for the establishment of desirable vegetation.
These efforts also provide benefits outside the installation as efforts to meet TMDL requirements of phosphorus for water quality in the North Bosque River watershed are increased as compost material is removed from that watershed. The project provides a prototypical "win-win" situation as erosion is reduced on the installation while phosphorus is removed from the adjacent watershed.
Severely eroded soils lack two significant components for successful establishment of vegetation; organic matter and nutrients. Application of composted dairy manure on these soils provides a limited opportunity to increase organic matter; however, any additions at all are beneficial. The higher benefit of compost amendments is its nutrient value. In most cases, it would not be economically feasible to add fertility to rangeland systems. However, in the case of the military, where training is critical to successfully carrying out the mission, it may become feasible as training lands must meet the needs for the military to "train as they fight (Col. Randy Butler, pers. comm.)."
TWRI/BREC is evaluating and developing the BMP for compost application on military lands.
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