Soil Ecology Restoration Group

last update November 24, 1998

Revegetating disturbed desert land to mitigate wind erosion and control particulate air pollution

Surface disturbance in arid regions - whether it results from abandoned agriculture, overgrazing or recreational activities - often sets the stage for wind-blown fugitive dust. Revegetation provides the most sustainable soil stabilization but is difficult to achieve in any given year. Widely varying environmental conditions and soil factors make direct seeding unreliable, and transplanting of nursery-grown shrubs does not assure plant establishment, even with supplemental irrigation. In occasional years plants can be successfully established, particularly Atriplex canescens, in the western Mojave Desert. Once vegetation becomes established, it successfully stabilizes the soil surface and reduces blowing dust. However, because successful establishment is infrequent, reliable mitigation of fugitive dust requires that other techniques be used as well.