The Basics of Bioengineering

Soil bioengineering is a cost-effective alternative to conventional engineering relying on vegetation to stabilize erodible soils providing exceptional benefits to the habitat. As a frequent component of modern bioengineering designs, coir erosion control products provide natural erosion protection during the period of time it takes for the roots and shoots of native plants to colonize and stabilize stream banks, wetlands or hillside soils. The extended longevity of coir erosion control products provides adequate time for the development of a well-established root system which eventually offers long-term erosion protection. Thus, coir erosion control products have become an important tool in modern bioengineering.

Success with Bioengineering:
Often bioengineering techniques are used as an alternative to traditional hard armor methods. For example, rip rap banks can be replaced with well-designed, bioengineered stream banks at a lower cost and with better environmental benefits. Since such innovative techniques often receive increased scrutiny, quality design and implementation are necessary. A few generalizations regarding success with bioengineering are given below:

  • An ideal design team should consist of experts in various disciplines including engineering, plant ecology, hydrology and earth work.
  • Ensure that plant roots and shoots will replace the structural function of erosion control products by the time fabrics weaken and degrade.
  • Consider how the local climate and site conditions will affect plant growth rate and erosion control product degradation rate.
  • Material installation can be the weak point of a project, even if the best materials are used. Consider the importance of secure staking, adequate fabric overlap, key trenching, skilled construction supervision and aggressive revegetation plans.
  • Depending on the type of project, It is important to understand the inundation durations, mechanisms of hill slope and stream banks failure, the depth to water table, soil compaction, planting densities, post-project land use, as well as the benefits of monitoring and maintenance.
  • Understand the limitations of the erosion control product or the technique.