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Grass keeps sand in its place

A major share of Maasvlakte 2 has already been sprayed on. This means that enormous sand plains have emerged from the water. We need to prevent this sand from being blown away. In the first place, this could form a nuisance for the surrounding area. In the second place, if strong winds blow away a lot of sand, this can affect the planned height of the Maasvlakte 2 site. The solution is as simple as it is quintessentially Dutch: plant grass in order to keep the sand in place. To examine whether this can be done even more intelligently than the proven method, researchers have started to study the different types of seed mix and their effect upon nature.

PUMA has ordered grass to be sown on two test plots on the new land. One plot with the familiar Europoort grass seed mix and one plot with mowings from the existing Maasvlakte. Besides grass seed, this mix also contains weed seeds. A third plot serves as a reference plot and has not been seeded.

Ecological added value

The basic purpose of the grass is to retain the sand via its roots. Whether the field is also attractive and green is of secondary importance. It’s an established fact that the Europoort mix gives a good result. The objective of this test is to discover whether the new mowings give a comparably sturdy and sand-retaining result as the familiar Europoort mix, but at the same time lead to a more varied vegetation. From an ecological perspective, this can create added value, since the greater variety of the vegetation attracts more insects and birds.

Researchers will be taking stock of the results after the summer of 2011. Until that time, they will use gauging-rods to measure how much sand is blown away from the plots. After this, the most successful mix will be seeded at Maasvlakte 2. The inner slope behind the new row of dunes needs to be covered with vegetation, for example, but also sprayed-on sites that are not being developed yet can be temporarily seeded to prevent erosion.