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Tuesday, Jul 23, 2024
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Mulch Machine Helps Control Erosion, Recycles Materials

Carlsbad-based Green Earth Mulch Distributors is offering a new solution to erosion control.

Green Earth has one of only three express blower trucks in California, and the only one in San Diego County. The express blower is used to apply mulch at construction sites and on highway medians and freeway embankments.

The trucks, invented by Oregon-based Rexius Express Blowers, use pneumatic force to blow mulch through a long, flexible hose up to 300 feet away.

Jerry McNulty, vice president of Green Earth, owned a street-sweeping business when he first saw an express blower truck at a trade show in Palm Springs.

McNulty sold his street-sweeping business, purchased an express blower truck for $350,000, and began operating it in San Diego County about a year ago. Revenues for the first year were about $170,000, he said.

“It’s taking material that would ordinarily go to a landfill and reusing it,” McNulty said.

The mulch is made from compost, wood chips and tree clippings, as well as construction materials from tract-home sites.

“If I put two inches down, it prevents erosion, keeps the sun off the soil, and feeds the plants trying to grow,” McNulty explained. Seed can also be injected into the mulch as it’s blown on the ground.

McNulty said mulch is a more effective erosion prevention tool than bonded fiber matrix, which is commonly used on freeway embankments. Bonded fiber matrix is sprayed on to the roadside and typically lasts for 30 to 40 days and cracks if it is stepped on, he said.

“When (mulch) lays down on the slope, the twigs knit together over the top of the raw dirt. It will adhere to that slope and as the product decomposes it becomes part of the surface it’s laying on,” McNulty explained.

Benjamin Tobler enforces erosion control regulations as a water resources control engineer in the San Diego office of the California Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Tobler said mulch works best on flat areas, where it can form a durable erosion control blanket.

Straw blankets made from a nylon weave are a commonly used form of erosion control, but in heavy foot-traffic areas, people may trip over the nylon weave, Tobler said. “With wood chips, there’s a much lower price, no trip hazard, and less of a fire concern,” he said.

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