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Does a clay soil gully or wash more than a sand soil on a steep slope?

Todd NE WY says 2017-07-11 09:52:40 (CST)

I am going to say yes because the clay cuts from the water and it gets progressively larger. Sand allows some water to flow/filter through.


1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Billy Foster says 2017-07-11 10:47:48 (CST)

The clay soil particles are smaller so they would be more easily moved by the water current than the larger sand particles however The clay soil, made up of the smaller diameter particles would have more surface area contact causing them to stick together better than the sandy soil. I think I am going to say sandy soil would gully more than clay. Clearly I am guessing.

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Neal in Iowa says 2017-07-11 14:44:37 (CST)

No. Clay has cohesion and a tightly consolidated clay is very erosion resistant. Sand on the other hand has only weight and grain interlock to hold it.

Full disclaimer: I was an engineer with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (Soil Conservation Service until about 1994) and have seen severe gullies in all soil types. Gullies develop the fastest in sandy draws if all other factors are the same.

Neal in Iowa

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

K.C. Fox says 2017-07-11 20:39:20 (CST)


1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

JerryHicks says 2017-07-12 04:58:41 (CST)


Now, I will say that the book only gives an answer and rarely shares their reasoning. This is another one of those questions I'll have to look up first chance I get. The area in which I live is all clay except where it's rock, so I don't really have much to compare it to. And for the record, here it seems gullies form quicker in the clay than they do in the rock.

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Neal in Iowa says 2017-07-15 09:35:06 (CST)


I have considered why the book says clay is more apt to have gullies. So here are some random thoughts.

As clay has cohesion, the sides next to the erosion are more apt to stand vertically. This leaves evidence of the erosion and the gully. Sand on the other hand will not stand vertically, so a gully is not so obvious.

Sand is often deposited on a flat area. Therefor, the velocity of the water across it might be slow enough to prevent gully formation.

Over my career I saw many waterways that had the center cut out to a dense clay. The soil that had been removed was generally a silt, silt loam or loam, all of which have a lower percentage of clay. The dense clay will erode given enough water, but at a much slower rate.

Ultimately, I think that the book's answer is based on the premise that gullies with near vertical sides are most often observed in soils with a higher clay content.


1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

JerryHicks says 2017-07-18 05:21:07 (CST)

Neal, I appreciate you having posted on this. I haven't had time to read up on it. I have some old soil science books from the 1930s and 40s and I figured I see what they had to say on it. I just haven't had time to do so. I would be inclined to expect that the sand would gully faster as it has less cohesion and the particles should be lighter. It should saturate faster. We only have clay and I can testify that the gullies we have are some whoppers. On the other hand, they seem to have repaired quickly. when I bought the place 13 years ago, there were some gullies over six feet deep. I cut brush and filled them. I had some friend cutting turf and cleaning out flower beds and such around there homes and told them to bring the cast off stuff to be put in the gully. After this I rolled hay out on it and fed cattle there. They have filled back in now and have grown over with grass. Of course, I also worked to reduce the run off that was bringing the large volume of water there in the first place.

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Ralph in N.E.Oh says 2017-07-18 11:23:08 (CST)

Jerry, I hope not to hijack your thread, but I wanted to congratulate you on your land stewardship. Filling your gullies, slowing down the rushing water and farming with an eye on your land is a very responsible thing to do. I farm this way and I am pleased with my efforts so far. I am sure that you too can see many good effects from your efforts. Congratulations and thanks for sharing.

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

JerryHicks says 2017-07-19 05:11:05 (CST)

Ralph, land stewardship and land improvement are things very near my heart. Sometimes it's hard to tell it , looking around my place, but it's true. I sometimes feel that I have a bit more land that I can handle effectively alone, but we do what we can. I have been well pleased with the way the gullies are filling it. There are other places that have lost a good deal of top soil but I'm starting to feel like we have deepened the soil a bit there. I actually believe it's easier to bury rocks than it is to pick them. We have our farm laid out with several small fields, each having a name or a number that differentiates it from the others. The one I am most proud of we simply call "the hay field" because it is the flattest most open part of the farm. When we first bought the place it had been in corn. Some of it was badly eroded. A three or four acre section had some sort of chemical poisoning, possibly attrazine. It took five years to even get grass to grow there. Our first year on the place hired a neighbor to mow and roll the hay for us. This fifteen acre field made 7 rolls. We then divided it into paddocks and grazed it. We averaged 3 days per month on that field the first year. The second year it made 14 rolls. It continued to double nearly every year with a few exceptions during droughts and such. This year I rolled the field myself. Out of the 15 acres cut, I lost six due to rain, but the remaining nine acres made 68 rolls. This increase has come strictly from manure and clipping. I finally soil tested and will be liming this fall and am now looking at what I can do on other parts of the place. My biggest regret is that one life time is bit too short to get everything done I'd like to do!

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

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