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Alternative Slope Stabilization Techniques: Soil Bioengineering

Cory L. Horton, P.E.

Course Outline

This four hour online course provides guidance for the application and design of the alternative slope stabilization techniques of Soil Bioengineering. This course is intended for practicing engineers, and others, who seek additional alternatives to conventional slope stabilization practices. After completing the course the student will have a greater understanding of when, where, and how to implement soil bioengineering. The course content is based on the Natural Resources Conservation Service Engineering Field Handbook Chapter 18 Soil Bioengineering for Upland Slope Protection and Erosion Reduction (61 pages). This publication introduces the goals, describes the design methodology, teaches about construction methods, and provides information to select and implement soil bioengineering for slope stabilization.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

Learning Objective

At the conclusion of this course, the student will:

Course Introduction

Soil Bioengineering is an integrated design technique that combines living biological elements and engineering design methods to protect slopes and reduce erosion. Conventional engineered structures can be costly, difficult to construct, and may not fit in with site aesthetics. Integrating living plant material with slope stabilization can improve aesthetics, decrease construction costs, decrease maintenance, and result in a structure that actually increases in strength over time.

Course Content

The purpose of this course is to provide guidance on the design and construction of soil bioengineering. You will be directed to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service website to study Soil Bioengineering for Upland Slope Protection and Erosion Reduction (1992 edition, 3.5MB 61 pages, PDF file format), which presents the methodology and design approach of soil bioengineering for upland slope protection.

The following contains the outline of Soil Bioengineering for Upland Slope Protection and Erosion Reduction:

650.1800 Introduction

650.1801 Characteristics of soil bioengineering systems

650.1802 Basic principles and design considerations

650.1803 Construction techniques and materials

650.1804 References

Course Summary

Soil bioengineering can be a cost effective means of stabilizing slopes with less disturbance than conventional engineered structures. The vegetated components grow stronger with time and integrate aesthetically into the natural landscape. Soil bioengineering is often a viable alternative in sites with difficult access constraints where the use of equipment is not practical.

Related Reading

For additional technical information related to this subject, please visit the following websites or web pages:

Washington State Department of Transportation
USDA NRCS Watershed Technology Electronic Catalog
USDA Forest Service Soil Bioengineering An alternative for Roadside Management


Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered professional engineer. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.