Tilling and Composting Compacted Soils to Decrease Urban Runoff

Principal Investigator(s):

John Gulliver, Professor Emeritus, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering


  • John Nieber, Professor, Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering

Project summary:

Construction practices tend to compress soil and decrease its infiltration potential. The effect is similar to that of impermeable pavement; excess water simply runs off into the street and storm sewers. This increased runoff can degrade rivers and pollute lakes. It has been stated that tilling the compacted soil and mixing compost into it will increase its infiltration potential and thereby reduce runoff into streets and storm sewers. This hypothesis, however, has not been proven, and the effect has not been quantified. The goal of this project is to work with the Three Rivers Park District to test the hypothesis and to quantify the potential impact of tilling and adding compost to compacted soil. One objective is to reduce stormwater runoff from developed watersheds and thereby reduce the impact of urban construction on downstream rivers and lakes.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2009094
  • Start date: 04/2009
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Environment and Energy
  • Topics: Environment, Erosion control