1A – Erosion and Sediment Control

Management Measure

Apply the erosion component of a conservation management system (CMS) as defined in the Field Office Technical Guide of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS) to minimize the delivery of sediment from agricultural lands to surface waters, or design and install a combination of management and physical practices to settle sediments and associated pollutants in runoff delivered from the contributing area for storms of up to a 25-year, 24-hour frequency.

Management Practices

The purpose of this management measure is to prevent and reduce the amount of soil entering surface water. California-approved USDA NRCS standards and practices should be used to prevent and reduce erosion on the field or to trap and settle sediment at the edge of the field. Strategies used to control rill and sheet erosion, streambank erosion, soil mass movement, and irrigation-induced erosion should be used as required in the erosion component of a conservation management system (CMS). Recommended practices include the following:

  • Erosion can be reduced or prevented by appropriate crop management which reduces soil erosion, improves soil properties, and improves water infiltration. Appropriate crop management includes: crop rotation (planting crops in a recurring sequence on the same field) and conservation tillage; planting cover crops or other vegetative cover (especially on contours) and leaving crop residues on the field; reducing time that bare seedbed is exposed to approximately three (3) weeks by delaying seeding time, and/or applying mulch to bare fields.

  • Erosion can be minimized or prevented from agricultural fields that are graded to reduce slope length, steepness, or unsheltered distance (i.e., land form grading or contour farming).

  • Erosion can be reduced by reducing the length of the slope by installing terraces and diversions.

  • Grade stabilization structures can be installed to reduce head cutting in channels.

  • Wind erosion is reduced by installing strips of trees and shrubs, i.e. hedgerows, along edges of fields or against prevailing winds.

  • Eroded sediment and associated pollutants can be trapped before leaving the site by installing filter strips, field borders, fiber mats, velocity dissipaters and riparian buffers.

  • Sediment ponds and infiltration basins can be installed to attenuate peak flows and to capture sediments.

  • Irrigation management techniques can be used to control erosion caused by irrigation.

  • Protection of sensitive areas like riparian zones.


  • California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) is a San Francisco-based 501(c)3 nonprofit organization incorporated in 2003 created by Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers to promote the benefits of sustainable winegrowing practices, enlist industry commitment and assist in implementation of the Sustainable Winegrowing Program.

  • Fish Friendly Farming (FFF) provides a comprehensive approach for enologists to restore habitat for endangered Coho salmon and steelhead trout. Vineyard owners and managers enroll in the program by signing up for a series of four educational workshops. The workshops cover all aspects of land management, including existing vineyard management, new vineyard design, creek and river riparian corridor management and restoration, and road repair and maintenance. As they go through the workshops, each farmer will work with the FFF program to complete a Farm Conservation Plan for their property.

  • Sonoma County Agricultural Commission, Agriculture Division administers the Sonoma County Vineyard Erosion and Sediment Control Ordinance (VESCO). Growers planting new vineyards or replanting existing vineyards are required to use recognized conservation practices, and management practices and provide for riparian setback to protect the environment and watersheds of the county.

Information Resources

  • California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB), Agriculture and Erosion Control has demonstration projects throughout the state designed to divert organic materials from landfills by encouraging the use of compost and mulch by California's growers and governing agencies.

  • Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Hedgerows for California Agriculture: A Resource Guide includes information about using hedgerows and related practices as tools to increase groundcover and reduce soil erosion and to improve pesticide management. This guide includes information on the benefits of hedgerows, practical information about installing hedgerows, and other relevant reference materials.

  • USDA NRCS Conservation Buffers Initiative provides information on buffers, how to use buffers, and technology specifications. It describes success stories, and provides links for more information.

  • USDA NRCS, California Buffer Initiative: Common Sense Conservation provides information and links on the initiative to create conservation buffers and filter strips in California.


USDA. No date. Electronic Field Office Technical Guide for California. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service. [online]. [accessed November 27, 2006]

USEPA. 2002. Chapter 4: Management Measures. In National Management Measures for the Control of Nonpoint Pollution from Agriculture. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC. [online]. [accessed November 27, 2006]

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