When restoration needs to be done on steep slopes, it can be dangerous for work crews to attempt to spread mulch by hand. In these instances, we use aerial mulching to reach the dangerous and steep areas. A helicopter carries mulch over the designated area and drops it as evenly as possible, providing cover for the seeding below to grow and take water while simultaneously keeping the area from suffering from excessive erosion.
There are several steps that must be taken into consideration when beginning a mulching service. The area that is being treated must be marked out in some way, either by flags and plastic markers on the ground or by marking out the area on a map. There must be an aviation safety plan, written by the helicopter manager or helibase manager in conjunction with the project manager. Once that is prepared, a staging area must be carefully considered and set up for the operations to commence.
There are two major types of mulching that can be used in aerial mulching. There is hydromulch, which uses more chemicals, and straw mulch. Straw mulching has proven to be effective at reducing erosion and assisting in the protection of seeding. It also helps to regulate the force of rain as it hits the ground, slowing its progress and allowing it to absorb into the rough ground more efficiently.