Project Description

applyingapplying2No matter the time or place, every smart business person, Federal, or State agency is trying to do more with less. This is the exact premise for the development and design of the Biotic Earth line of soil building products. The idea behind the system is to mimic Mother Nature by adding only the essential materials that were needed to build healthy active soil on site and assist in effective vegetation establishment. By only adding what is needed, the Biotic Earth soil building system can significantly reduce costs while ensuring effective vegetation establishment, long-term vegetation sustainability, for the ultimate goal of long-term erosion control.
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) was thinking right along these lines when they decided to try the Biotic Earth approach. Their primary goal was to reduce their financial demands from placing topsoil on their highway projects. The use of the Biotic Earth system would afford CDOT to potentially result in huge financial savings on future projects, but first the materials must be tested and prove their effectiveness.
CDOTs test plot would occur along a section of Colorado Highway 115’s widening project just outside Ft. Carson, Colorado. The entire test plot would encompass approximately two acres along a 2:1 (H:V) embankment right off the shoulder of the road. All products were installed in July of 2011. Both plots where covered with the appropriate Biotic Earth system in June and then covered with a double net 100% biodegradable extended-term straw/coconut rolled blanket.
Project location just before installation of the Biotic Earth and EarthBound soil building system.
Two different Biotic systems would be reviewed in this test. On the first test plot the Biotic Earth Hydraulic Growth Medium (HGM) was applied at 3500 pounds/acre and EarthBound 2000 was applied at 70 pounds/acre. This system was specifically used in this area because CDOT had already applied some topsoil to site. The topsoil that had been applied had very minimal organic material and a high level of clay present. The benefits to this site from the HGM and 2000 are detailed below. Generally, the HGM adds the organic fiber needed in the system and is an immediate growth medium for the plants to establish in while the topsoil develops. The 2000 provides important soil aggregate formation and pore space development within the soil while holding the HGM in place against erosive forces.

Material Benefit

before

Straw
• Mulching material to retain moisture and regulate temperature at the soil surface
• A source of important organic matter for addition to the soil
• Immediate erosion control by providing cover to the soil surface
Flexible Flax Fibers
• Mechanical stabilization of straw fibers
• Additional source of organic matter for soil
Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss
• Growth medium
• Soil building material
EarthBound 2000 Soil Stabilizer
• Soil flocculation for pore space development and to reduce soil erosion
• Soil aggregate/structure formation to allow movement of organics and water into soil
• Cross-linked hydro colloidal tackifier to effectively adhere HGM to the soil
• Minor nitrogen source for microbial energy
On the second test plot the Biotic Earth Black was applied at 3500 pounds/acre and EarthBound Scientific was applied at 70 pounds/acre. These specific materials were recommended because of the presence of exposed heavily compacted subsoils with little to no pore space, with no topsoil present, and no organic material present. The Biotic Earth Black’s unique qualities like its combination of straw, flexible flax fibers, high concentration of peat moss and other proprietary soil building and plant growth and development materials along with the companies EarthBound Scientific Soil Stabilizer would provide the needed improvement to the soil to assist in immediate vegetation establishment and long-term soil building characteristics. In addition, these products would assist in rapid topsoil development along with vegetation establishment and the long-term sustainability of the site at a much lower cost than transporting and spreading topsoil to the site. The peat was especially important addition because of its high cation exchange capacity and thus its ability to hold nutrients in the root zone where they are needed by the plants. The mineral material of the soil was present on the site from the subsoil, the Biotic Earth Black and EarthBound Scientific would mimic Mother Nature in a more expedited manner by adding just what was needed to build topsoil.

Material Benefit

after

Straw
• Mulching material to retain moisture and regulate temperature at the soil surface
• A source of important rapid degrading organic matter for addition to the soil
• Some level of immediate erosion control by providing cover to the soil surface
Flexible Flax Fibers
• Mechanical stabilization of straw fibers
• Additional source of organic matter for soil
Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss
• Growth medium
• Long-term sustainable organic matter
• Slow release of plant essential growth materials
• A high cation exchange capacity for plant nutrient retention.
Proprietary plant derived organic amendments
• Assist in soil building by adding small amounts of essential micronutrients
• Improve plant establishment and growth through the addition of important amino acids, nutrients, and growth stimulants
EarthBound 2000 Soil Stabilizer
• Soil flocculation for pore space development
• Soil aggregate/structure formation to allow movement of air, organics, and water into soil
• Cross-linked hydro colloidal tackifier to effectively adhere HGM to the soil
• Minor nitrogen source for microbial energy
Installation of Biotic Earth Soil Building System

Success!
after2The installation of both the Biotic Earth HGM and Black along with the EarthBound 2000 and Scientific were deemed a success by CDOT in achieving exceptional vegetation in a very short period of time at significant cost savings.
The HGM and 2000 portion of the project that was applied on the topsoil had phenomenal growth while the area where the Black and Scientific were used had really strong growth considering they were used on subsoils. In fact, another section where just a straw/coconut biodegradable blanket was used over topsoil had less growth one year later than the plot where the Black was used with the same type of blanket on poor subsoils. These test plots allowed the Biotic Earth and EarthBound systems to be used on future sections of this highway project where topsoil application would be expensive for both the material and the labor associated with installing it. The Biotic Earth definitely did a lot more for less and will benefit both the economic and rate of revegetation for future CDOT projects.
Phenomenal vegetation growth just two months after installation on the test plot where Biotic Earth HGM and EarthBound 2000 was applied over topsoil. Other plots where just a straw/coconut biodegradable blanket were applied over the seed had far less germination or vegetative growth.
Good vegetation establishment on the test plot where the Biotic Earth Black and EarthBound Scientific were used directly over the subsoil. The contractor and CDOT staff were amazed at the amount of vegetation established on this test plot considering no topsoil was used and the short time period between installation and germination.