Track 2 Day 1: McLaughlin 2


Infiltration Soils: What Works (and Doesn’t)

Wednesday March 25, 2020
3:30 to 4:00 p.m. (Hall F)


Rich McLaughlin, North Carolina State University


The process of constructing roads, buildings, and other structures usually involves extensive disturbance of the soil, resulting in subsoils at the surface that are in poor condition for plant growth.

Runoff from construction sites can have high sediment concentrations if the soil is not stabilized with vegetation. Because of this, establishing vegetation is typically required on the disturbed areas. We have been studying the practices that are most likely to minimize erosion, improve soil conditions, and grow plants at a reasonable cost.

Studies were conducted both under controlled conditions on experiment stations, and on construction sites.

Tillage was very effective in improving infiltration, and the effect remained for at least the first two to three years of monitoring. Compost incorporation improved grass growth and infiltration in some — but not all — tests. Infiltration rates of 20-30 cm h-1 were common. Substituting wildflowers for grass where feasible can create pollinator habitat with similar or better infiltration.


Learning Objectives

1. Understand the issues for soil and vegetation establishment on construction sites.

2. Review the options available to condition soils to achieve high infiltration.

3. Understand the factors involved in successes and failures in creating high infiltration soils.



Rich McLaughlin

Rich McLaughlin

Rich McLaughlin is Professor of Urban Soil and Water Management at North Carolina State University.