Ephemeral Gully Erosion

Ephemeral gully erosion is our number one erosion problem in East Pottawattamie County. Many people see ephemeral gully activity and ask two questions, the first is how big do the ditches have to be and how much of a problem are they? The answer is this: an ephemeral gully occurs when there is a concentrated flow of water that recurs every year in the same spot. Many producers comment that they have some little ditches that have to be smoothed out every year but do not cause much of a problem. Many East Pottawattamie soils have a T rating of 5 tons per acre. It is not hard for even a small ephemeral to exceed that. Here is one example:

200' long ephemeral gully

2' average width

.5' average depth

This would equal 200 cu ft soil per year time 87' per cu ft equals 17,400 pounds or 4.35 tons of erosion out of one small ephemeral gully.

It is easy to see the amount of erosion that takes place on a field that has several ephemeral gullies. 

A possible solution to these ephemerals is using cover crops to seed these critical areas. Some producers have seen dramatic results by seeding 1 to 1.5 bushels of wheat or rye in the fall and planting corn or beans right through the seeded areas in the spring. The cover crop is typically killed by the post emergence chemical application. These producers report little if any yield reduction in these low areas. This practice could treat a lot of problem areas for low cost.

If you have any questions concerning Ephemeral Gullies,

Please contact us at (712) 482-6408, or stop by our office at

321 Oakland Ave 16 Main St.

Oakland, IA 51560

Ephemeral Gullies


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