Erosion Control Guidelines

Erosion Control for Cranberry Bed Development [in Maine] — Prepared by Maine DEP in 1996 in Cooperation with the Cranberry Technical Workgroup


Any time that you disturb large areas of land, there is a high risk of erosion.  Erosion of soil material may cause serious harm to water bodies and aquatic life.  Sediment can smother small plants, insects, and fish eggs.  Sediment can also damage gills, and alter water chemistry causing fish kills.  The loss of a substantial amount of soil materials results in higher project costs, and additional labor in repairs and reconstruction.  Proper planning for your project is critical.

The Cranberry Technical Workgroup encourages you to seek professional assistance during the planning and construction stages of your project.  This guide was prepared in cooperation with the workgroup and is intended to be used as general guidance for small cranberry developments.  Although the general principles apply to larger projects, additional professional help may be required to insure that proper erosion controls are implemented.

If you are using United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) funding, you may be subject to stricter Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) standards and specifications for erosion control.  Please contact the nearest USDA office for their standards and specifications.

The Department of Environmental Protection would like to thank the members of the Cranberry Technical Workgroup for their assistance in the preparation of this guide.  The workgroup consisted of the following members:

  • Charles Armstrong, Down East RC&D, Cherryfield, Maine (now with UMaine Cooperative Extension in Orono)
  • Stacie Beyer, DEP, Bangor Office
  • Dean Bradshaw, Private Engineer & Cranberry Grower, Washington County
  • Roland Dupuis, NRCS, Hancock County
  • Judy & Dick Farnsworth, Cranberry Growers, Washington County
  • Dave Garcelon, NRCS, Washington County
  • Laurence Grant, President–at the time–of the Maine Cranberry Growers Assn., Washington County
  • John Harker, Maine Dept. of Agric. Food & Rural Resources, Augusta [now retired]
  • Nancy Holmes, Cranberry Grower, Washington County
  • David Roque, Maine Dept. of Agric. Food & Rural Resources, Augusta [now retired]
  • Ken Libbey, DEP, Bangor Office
  • Timothy Look, Cranberry Grower, Washington County
  • Alden Mingo, Cranberry Grower, Washington County
  • Dana Nelson, Coordinator [now retired], Down East RC&D, Cherryfield, Maine


For erosion control, pre-construction planning may be the most critical step.  Please read this section and consider all suggestions before beginning your project.

Timing the work properly can prevent many erosion problems.  The cost of the project and the difficulties in controlling sediment loss escalate if the timing is not appropriate.  This can not be stressed enough.  Plan to have all resources, including funding, available for an appropriate start date.  Some suggestions to consider include:

  • Conduct earth work during the dry season.  In clay soils, the best time may be late June through September 15. Constructing the project during other times of the year may result in a considerable amount of erosion and re-work.  No earth work should occur after October 15.
  • Do not conduct earth work when soils are saturated or frozen. To tell if soils are too wet for construction, try this test developed in part for the Maine State Plumbing Code:  Soil is too saturated when: 1) squeezing a handful of soil from the activity area results in free water dripping from the sample; or 2) rolling out a lump of soil from the activity area with your fingers, the soil forms a wire or rod 1/8th of an inch in diameter that does not crumble when handled.
  • Have all erosion control materials on site, and installed if appropriate, before earth work begins.
  • Watch the weather.  Minimize disturbing additional areas if rain or snow is forecast and make sure you have erosion controls in place and functioning properly before a storm.  Also, mulch disturbed areas as much as possible before the storm.
  • The amount of ground disturbed at one time should be minimized to the fullest extent possible.  The smaller the area,  the easier it is to control.  One area should be stabilized before the next area is opened.
  • Consider diverting water coming from off-site around the construction area so the amount of runoff across the site is limited.
  • Construct your tail-water recovery pond first. The pond can act as a sediment basin during construction.  This can also save some labor and materials because the soil excavated from the pond may be suitable for use in the berms.

For more guidance on timing for cranberry bed development, see the Cranberry Production Timetable

Summary Table:

Table developed from the Cranberry Technical Work Group meeting, July 15, 1996

Clay soils Develop guidance specific to clay soils and cranberry development
Fill (versus native soil) Compact fill properly;
Bed anti-seep collars in native soil if possible
Roads on berms with wheel ruts Crown roadways with parent material
Compaction Compact dike properly using NRCS specifications (options available)
Outlet failure Develop installation procedure:

  • use anti-seep collar
  • seal collar to culvert
  • bed in native soil if possible
  • compact fill around culvert
  • use bentonite
Slope stability – Design berms with >1′ freeboard
– Compact fill properly
– Vegetate/mulch slope
– Anchor mulch
Pipe sizing Develop sizing chart for growers
Seeding practices Develop seeding practices:

  • options for seed mixes
  • options for anchoring: 1) chopped hay,  2) jute mat, 3) hydroseed,  4) cyclgro
  • seed bed enhancement
  • Develop material suppliers list
Construction sequencing Develop recommended sequence; Construct during dry season

Take a look at what you get with the complete Erosion Control Guide:

Table of Contents:

Construction: Sediment Barriers || Topsoil Stockpiles || Construction of a Hay Bale Barrier (USDA / NRCS) || Stone Check Dam (Virginia SWCC) || Compost Filter Berm || Dike Construction: 1)  Materials, 2)  Foundation Preparation, 3)  Placement, 4)  Moisture Content, 5)  Compaction || Pipe Installation: 1)  Culvert Sizing, 2)  Outlet Installation Procedures: Dikes and Roadways || Cranberry Pond Outlet #1 || Cranberry Pond Outlet #2

Permanent Erosion Control:
Slope Stabilization: 1)  Seed and Mulch, 2)  Compost, 3)  Cost Comparisons

Late Fall Construction:
Outlet Protection || Detail of Culvert Outlet Protection (full flow non-pressure) || Open Type Level Spreader (USDA / NRCS)

To order the COMPLETE Erosion Control Guide, contact the Maine DEP