The contribution of biogeotextiles to sustainable development and soil conservation in European countries: The BORASSUS Project
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Fullen, Michael A.
Booth, Colin A.
Sarsby, Robert W.
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AbstractField and laboratory experiments has shown that geotextile mats made from palm leaves are an effective, sustainable and economically-viable soil conservation method, with huge global potential. The EU-funded BORASSUS Project (2005-09; Contract Number INCO-CT-2005-510745) is evaluating the long-term effectiveness of biogeotextiles in controlling soil erosion and assessing their sustainability and economic viability. These experiments are in progress in 10 countries, both in the ‘industrial north’ (in Europe) and in the ‘developing south’ (Africa, South America and South-East Asia). This paper discusses the significance of geotextile palm mats in European countries (Belgium, Hungary, Lithuania and the UK). Geotextile mats were effective in reducing splash erosion, runoff and soil erosion on arable sloping land in Shropshire, UK. The use of Borassus-mats on bare soil reduced soil splash height by ~31% and splash erosion by ~42%. The application of Borassus-mats as complete cover on bare soil reduced runoff by ~49% and soil erosion by ~75%. Borassus and Buriti mats as 1 m buffer strips reduced runoff by ~56 and 34%, respectively, and soil erosion by ~83 and 77%, respectively. Results from selected types of vineyards in Hungary suggest that the geotextile mats are effective in reducing soil erosion, particularly erosive rainfall. The geotextiles mats are also helpful in maintaining moisture and temperature conditions in the surface soil at levels particularly conducive to the establishment and growth of young plants. Experiments in Lithuania show that geotextile mats are effective in encouraging the establishment and growth of natural vegetation, thereby reducing erosion on roadside slopes. Simulated experiments in controlled laboratory conditions in Belgium suggest that palm-leaf geotextiles are effective in increasing infiltration rates and reducing interrill runoff and erosion rates on medium (i.e. 15%) and steep (i.e. 45%) slope gradients. The effectiveness of geotextile mats when used as technical materials for the construction industry in ground strengthening was investigated. Generally, the tensile strength of the Buriti mats was approximately twice that of the Borassus mats. The tensile strength of the palm-leaf geotextile mats is influenced by the mat strip formation pattern. Research and development activities of the BORASSUS Project have improved our knowledge on the effect of palm geotextile mats on the micro- and macro- soil environments and at larger scales through controlled laboratory and field experiments in diverse environments.
CitationIn: Proceedings of the International Soil Conservation (ISCO) Conference, Budapest, 19-23 May 2008
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton in association with International Soil Conservation Organization