Below are a list of projects the SOIL Committee has contributed or supported over the years.

Operation Hot Chile Overview

Notably in 2017, the IECA SOIL Committee in conjunction with the IberoAmerica Chapter and IECA Region One created Operation Hot Chile to help with recovery efforts for the Chile wildfires. After the devastating wildfires in Chile, IECA put out a call for companies to make donations to aid in the remediation efforts. Four companies answered that call, including Profile Products, EMIN, NT Ambiente, and HTM. Those four companies applied hydroseeding as a demonstration project in a Government property severely burned by the fires last summer. In the photos you can see the before and after photos of this Government property. The next stage of Operation Hot Chile will be in May, when some of these companies will be hydroseeding parts Santa Olga, a town close by that simply disappeared after the wildfires. IECA will be putting out a new call in May seeking companies to aid in revegetation of this small town, so that it looks full of wildflowers by the end of next winter. In these pictures you can see the impact of the fires, the landscape reminds horrible. It would be a big impact if we can revegetate this land.

Onsite Assistance

Post Relief

Sweden Salinity Model

The SOIL Committee provided support for Rebecca Kauten (IECA Great Rivers Chapter) who spent a month in Sweden in the summer of 2015 to learn about unique research conducted by the Royal Institute of Technology on the impacts of road salt to water quality. By learning about the intricacies of the Swedish salinity model she developed a similar approach to determine vulnerability of U.S. water sources to contamination from road salts.

Preliminary Assessment of Erosion Problems in Malingua Pamba, Ecuador

Hundreds of years of clearing native vegetation have resulted in a loss of much of the original rich organic topsoil in the South American Andes Mountains leaving sandy volcanic soils which are very susceptible to water erosion. In 2011, Will Mahoney (IECA Mountain States Chapter) conducted a field reconnaissance of approximately 75 eroded sites in a rural agricultural community of the Ecuadorian Andes. Mahoney produced a report recommending low-tech solutions for erosion mitigation. From 2012 to 2015, teams from Engineers without Borders (EWB) assisted the community with installation of structural BMPs using local materials and planting native vegetation at several high-priority sites along roads and in agricultural fields. The project has been a success because community members are now doing erosion control work on their own without assistance from the SOIL Committee or EWB.

Establishment of a Vetiver Nursery in South Sudan

Since its independence in 2011, much of South Sudan has been racked by tribal conflicts. However, the southeastern part of the country bordering Kenya has remained peaceful but impoverished. In 2015, an IECA Region 2 member, Elise Pinners, and her Kenyan colleague, Jane Wegesa, received SOIL Committee support for an erosion control project in the South Sudan village of Narus just north of the Kenyan border. Jane arranged for transport of 20,000 vetiver seedlings to Narus where she helped the community establish a nursery for this deep-rooted grass which is used widely in the tropics for erosion control. She also showed the local people how to use vetiver to stabilize gullies and how to construct half-moon structures to slow down surface water flow. Once the vetiver seedlings are well established at the nursery, they will be transplanted to family and school vegetable garden plots to protect soils from erosion by tropical rains. Follow-up visits to Narus (sponsored by the SOIL Committee) to check on the use of vetiver and erosion control structures are currently being planned.

Sustainable Agriculture on Easter Island

Easter Island, a remote Chilean territory in the South Pacific, once supported a sub-tropical forest which provided timber for construction of homes and canoes. When the first Europeans arrived in 1722, they found an eroded, deforested landscape and a society in decline. In 2010 and 2011, Pablo Garcia-Chevesich (IECA Western Chapter) led a team which established a banana orchard on Easter Island to show local inhabitants how trees and erosion control could transform the tortured landscape. Fifty trees were planted at two adjacent sites. Artificial windbreaks, water infiltration trenches, and a rainwater harvesting system were constructed. Vegetables are planted between the banana trees.

Improvements to a Community Water System in Eastern Ecuador

The SOIL Committee's first project took place in 2009 in the village of Tsuraku, at the edge of the Amazon basin in Ecuador. SOIL Committee teams traveled to the area to give erosion and sediment control guidance in conjunction with installation of a pipeline from a water intake structure to a water storage tank and village school. We also provided hands-on instruction in soil stabilization. Tom Williams (IECA Mountain States Chapter) led the team which included students from the University of Arizona. Ricardo Schmalbach (IECA Iberoamerican Chapter), President of Geosolutions Synthetic S.A. in Quito, Ecuador, provided a liner for the water storage tank.

IECA is the foremost organization for those involved in or concerned about soil erosion control. Membership (in IECA) tells others you take erosion control seriously and you want to help make a difference.

Scott Velting, CPESC, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA