Hi All, 

A little while back, John, Tara and Henry of the Erosion Control Training Facility conducted a pretty big Hydromulch study looking to answer the question:

”Does the application rate of 4,536 kg/ha (vs. 2,268 kg/ha) inhibit native grass seed from germination and growth?” 

We’ve made the entire paper available for download here.

Here is the abstract…

Beginning in December of 2008, Shasta College’s Instructor John McCullah and his students from the watershed restoration class started hydro mulch test trials, at the Shasta College Erosion Control Training Facility, with the goal of answering the question”Does the application rate of 4,536 kg/ha (vs. 2,268 kg/ha) inhibit native grass seed from germination and growth?” 

The study included 18 test plots (15ft x 10ft) on a 2:1 grade that had been track walked by a bulldozer. Using native California grass seed (Nasella pulchra), the plots were seeded before being hydro mulched and chosen plots were fertilized using Biosol and AM120 Mychorrizae. Six different products were applied, including Cotton Fiber Matrix, Flexterra, Soilguard, Terrawood, HydroStraw and Compost. Two control plots were established. One was track walked with no further treatment and the other was track walked, seeded and fertilized at the same rate as the other test plots.

The study included four test plots for each product. The application rate was set at 2,268 kg/ha and at 4,536 kg/ha. Students observed grass growth on each plot, each products’ ability to prevent erosion, and product retention on the soil surface in order to compare the effectiveness of the tested applications and to determine if 4,536 kg/ha application rates would inhibit seed germination and grass growth.  



Student observations showed no indication that the application of any hydro mulch product tested in this study, at the rate of 4,536 kg/ha, inhibits seed germination or growth more than an application rate of 2,268 kg/ha. The application rate of 4,536 kg/ha appears to have performed better in terms of erosion control, soil stability and product retention through only one rain season.  

Finally, the compost application of a 5cm (2”) blanket of medium screened, locally produced compost product performed significantly better in all criteria ( time to seed germination, quantity of seed germinated, growth , erosion control effectiveness, product retention on the plot) than any of the other hydro mulches tested. 

Every now and again, on Dirt Time and in training sessions, you’ll hear John refer to ‘Junior Raindrop’.

After a few mentions, you may find yourself asking:  ‘Who is this Junior Raindrop?’  Well, watch this video and ask no longer…

Junior Raindrop is a short animation piece commissioned by  the U.S. Department of Agriculture & Forest Service back in 1948.  In it a ‘delinquent raindrop explains the need for good watershed management’.  Though a little bit goofy and a tad bit long, it’s an interesting industry artifact that does do a good job outlining the basics.

And if nothing else, it’s invaluable as a cautionary tale, alerting us to the fact that seemingly innocent raindrops are all murderous bandits just waiting to happen!

Oh, also:  Quick Trivia Fact:  Junior Raindrop was created by Rudolph Wendelin, the same man who was responsible for Smokey the Bear.

Original Concept Art for Jr. Raindrop

Download the Video:

Like the video? Junior can be found at the Internet Archive, or feel free to  Download Junior Raindrop from our site here  (does not contain the John preamble).

We finally got around to collecting some behind the scenes pics to post up on the site.  We are woefully forgetful when it comes to documenting ourselves making Dirt Time.  But every now and then someone is on the ball enough to grab a few pics (for which I am hugely grateful for – Kaila & Tara).

So, in case you were ever curious as to what is going on behind the scenes, you can take a look here.

The first thing you may notice is that its just me and John.  Yep, that’s right. Dirt Time is very much a two-man operation (this is slightly misleading, as the last two Dirt Time episodes had the benefit of Lisanne Pajot’s expertise – manning a second camera and performing editing duties).

We keep things light. We keep things simple.  Doing so allows us to i) do it for the modest budget that we have and ii) roll with the punches as a project evolves.  As many of you likely know, a construction site can be a pretty dynamic production in and of itself.  Keeping a small filming footprint allows us to insert ourselves right into the action and follow it.  

On most of our projects, very seldom, do we get to re-do things or stop work for the benefit of the camera. We need to be able to adapt to the ebb and flow of the worksite.

Another benefit of the two-man system is that the filming becomes a natural conversation between myself and John – which is to say, the camera (or audience) and John.  When filming, the end-product is often a result of in-field Q&A’s and back and forth between John and me.  As a producer and industry outsider, I ask the questions I need to have answered in order for myself to understand and grasp the overall concept being discussed.  The underlying thought being, if I can understand what is going on (conceptual, visually and through John’s words) than the audience should be able to understand and learn as well.

Dirt Time shoots (and edits) are long, arduous things.  The average 15-20 minute episode is often the whittled down result of 5 – 6 hours of footage.  We have walls of hard drives dedicated to storing the hundreds of hours we’ve captured over the years.

But alas, that process of treating this video series as an actual broadcast television production is (we think) what makes Dirt Time stand out from all similar products out there.  When we make a Dirt Time episode we want the audience to feel that they are watching something that could belong on the airwaves of the Discovery Channel or HGTV.  We give the topic and the audience the respect we think it deserves.  Learning shouldn’t be boring – and that thinking makes Dirt Time what it is.


New Pics:

We’re playing a little catch up with the blog.  

We uploaded a whole whack load of pics from previous episodes and other various things.  You can view them in the appropriately titles: ‘Pics’ section.  The new albums added were:

Screen Grabs from the Energy Dissipator Episode

Screen Grabs from the Extreme Slope Episode

Screen Grabs from the TRMs in a Channel Episode

Screen Grabs from our Articulated Concrete Block Episode

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