EGU22-4768, updated on 24 May 2022
EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The implementation and effectiveness of vegetative barriers to regulate fluxes of runoff and sediment in open agricultural landscapes (Flanders, Belgium)

Alexia Stokes1, Maarten De Boever2,3, Jonas Bodyn3, Saskia Buysens3, Liesbet Rosseel4, Sarah Deprez4, Charles Bielders5, Aurore Degré6, and Amaury Frankl7
Alexia Stokes et al.
  • 1INRAE, AMAP, IRD, CIRAD, CNRS, University Montpellier, Montpellier, France
  • 2Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO), Merelbeke, Belgium
  • 3PCG – Vegetable Research Centre, Kruishoutem, Belgium
  • 4Steunpunt Erosie, Provinciaal Centrum voor Milieuonderzoek, Ghent, Belgium
  • 5Earth and Life Institute, Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
  • 6Terra Research Centre, Liege University, Liège, Belgium
  • 7Department of Geography, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium


Vegetative barriers are narrow strips of plants or plant residues that are increasingly being used as measures to reduce the connectivity of catchments in terms of water and sediment fluxes (Frankl et al., 2021a). They can mostly be found at plot edges where they do not hinder farming activities too much. Their principal function is to reduce sediment export from cropland and thus mitigate negative off-site effects of erosion (e.g. muddy floods, pollution of rivers). Being implemented in concentrated flow zones where ephemeral gullying is recurrent, they also prevent their development (Frankl et al., 2018). Although vegetative barriers are increasingly being implemented in open agricultural areas, little information is available on the effectiveness of vegetation barriers at buffering the flows of water and sediment. Here, we focus on vegetative barriers that are widely implemented in Flanders (Belgium) and which are made of straw bales, wood chips or bales of coconut fibre. Based on three simulated runoff experiments performed in the field, we calculated the hydraulic roughness and sediment deposition ratio. Our experiments show that the barriers made of coconut-fibre bales performed markedly better than those of straw bales or wood chips (Frankl et al., 2021b). However, as vegetative barriers have to be renewed every few years because of the decomposition of organic material, barriers made of locally available materials are more sustainable as a nature-based solution to erosion. We conclude that the vegetative barriers are an effective way of mitigating the negative effects of soil erosion. While barriers made of coconut-fibre bales are superior in their regulation of flows of runoff and sediment, barriers made of locally sourced materials are more sustainable.


Keywords: agriculture, erosion control, hydrological connectivity, runoff, sediment



Frankl, et al. (2021a) Gully prevention and control: Techniques, failures and effectiveness. Earth Surf. Process. Landforms: 46: 220– 238.

Frankl, A., et al. (2021b). Report on the effectiveness of vegetative barriers to regulate simulated fluxes of runoff and sediment in open agricultural landscapes (Flanders, Belgium). Land Degrad. Dev. 32: 4445– 4449.

Frankl, A. et al. (2018). The success of recent land management efforts to reduce soil erosion in northern France. Geomorphology 303: 84–93. doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2017.11.018


How to cite: Stokes, A., De Boever, M., Bodyn, J., Buysens, S., Rosseel, L., Deprez, S., Bielders, C., Degré, A., and Frankl, A.: The implementation and effectiveness of vegetative barriers to regulate fluxes of runoff and sediment in open agricultural landscapes (Flanders, Belgium), EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-4768,, 2022.