Trees were cut along the bank of a big creek on the edge of a field I rent near Cottage Grove a year ago. Having the trees gone is good for production along the borders, because trees compete with my crops for moisture, nutrients, and sunlight up to 60 feet into the field. The outside pass with my combine around a tree-lined field border always yields below my cost of production, unless I leave a field buffer strip 40 feet from the tree trunks. Then someone must bear the cost of so much underutilized land.
Here is provided a great opportunity to sow the creek bank with fescue seed for a good, thick stand of grass to prevent erosion. Trees prevent erosion on steep banks only about as well as their mat of fallen leaves can stick to the ground and turn off water. But grasses have a dense network of root hairs which prevent erosion like nothing else.
Notice, in the picture above, the exposed earth on the opposite side of the creek. It is that way up and down both sides of this creek ditch, which is 15 feet deep and 30 feet wide. Last year, trees were cut on both sides, so the chance to sow fescue and stop erosion is a fresh opportunity.
These trees undoubtedly grew here naturally. Natural, in this case, means untended, uncontrolled, and chaos; like hard storms and erosion are natural. Hopefully, our grass seed will take root and maintain the current creek boundaries to preserve this farmland for the next generation.