Streambank Stabilization and Erosion Control
LaGrange County Soil and Water Conservation District
Basin Program Funds:
A recent survey of Amish land owners indicated that over half allow their livestock
unlimited and continued access to open ditches or streams on their farms. The
resulting streambank erosion and nutrient loading, from animal waste, negatively
impacts water quality.
The goal of the Streambank Stabilization "Erosion/Runoff" Control Project was
to reduce severe streambank erosion and sedimentation from feedlot and pasture
sites along streams within the St. Joseph River watershed. To accomplish this,
the project team informed, educated and demonstrated to area landowners, particularly
the Amish community, the economic and water quality importance of limiting livestock
access to streams and ditches.
LaGrange County has several miles of perennial streams running
west toward the St. Joseph River which outlet into a series of natural lakes.
The majority of LaGrange Soil and Water Conservation District's cost-share funding
has been targeted at individual lake watersheds rather than the streams and
county drains on the outlet side of the natural lakes. In this area, there is
a high concentration of Amish farms, livestock, feedlots, and pasture fields.
The project demonstrated to LaGrange County livestock producers, including members
of the Amish community, that excluding livestock from an open stream does improve
water quality. In addition, livestock producers were shown an alternative water
source for livestock watering that eliminates the need for direct access to
streams and ditches.
personnel constructed a cattle crossing as well as reseeded a stream bank and
installed protective fencing at one of two demonstration sites. At the second
demonstration site, a spring was developed as an alternative water source for
livestock watering. Fencing and seeding along the stream at this site were also
Water quality tests (chemical and macro invertebrates) were conducted
in July and September 1995 and again in May and September 1996 at each of the
demonstration sites. Since the installations occurred between the two water
quality testing periods, the water tests demonstrated before and after effects
at the second site.
The project efforts have resulted in a reduction in erosion and sedimentation
where livestock have been restricted by fencing or the improvements described
above were installed. The project was estimated to have saved 30 tons of soil/acre,
23 lbs of phosphorus, and 56 lbs of nitrogen/acre/year. Final chemical tests
and rapid bio-assessment results showed water quality improvements in the feedlot
and pasture areas. Results of the project will be published with photos and
general practice information in local print media, including newspapers and
publications specifically serving the Amish community. This will increase education
efforts beyond the one-day scheduled field day.
Contact: Sue Schlemmer, LaGrange County Soil and Water Conservation District, (219) 463-3471