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Answers to Frequently Asked Soil Questions

Randy Willis
Contact: Randy Willis
District Administrator
Phone: (828) 465-8950
Email Randy Willis


mapAgricultural Resources Center
1175 S Brady Avenue
Newton, NC 28658

Monday - Friday
8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m

Where do I report a sediment erosion problem?
Neither the Catawba SWCD nor USDA-NRCS has any enforcement powers regarding compliance with any regulations relating to a sediment erosion control problem. We can offer you the landowner suggestions on how to handle an erosion problem on your own property, but we can not make another landowner fix a problem on their property that is affecting you.
In order to report a sediment erosion control problem, you should ask is, Does the land disturbing activity you are questioning involve more than 1 acre? One acre is an area of 208 feet by 208 feet. If the activity is larger than one acre, then the land disturbing activity "MAY" or "MAY NOT" be in violation.

The Sedimentation Pollution Control Act of 1973 (SPCA), as amended through 1999, North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 113A Article 4; says that:

"Whenever land-disturbing activity is undertaken on a tract comprising more than one acre, if more than one acre is uncovered, the person conducting the land- disturbing activity shall install such sedimentation and erosion control devices and practices as are sufficient to retain the sediment generated by the land-disturbing activity within the boundaries of the tract during construction upon and development of said tract, and shall plant or otherwise provide a permanent ground cover sufficient to restrain erosion after completion of construction or development within a time period to be specified by rule of the Commission."
No person shall initiate any land-disturbing activity on a tract if more than one acre is to be uncovered unless, 30 or more days prior to initiating the activity, an erosion and sedimentation control plan for such activity is filed with the agency having jurisdiction. The agency having jurisdiction shall forward to the Director of the Division of Water Quality a copy of each erosion and sedimentation control plan for a land-disturbing activity that involves the utilization of ditches for the purpose of de-watering or lowering the water table of the tract."

For erosion concerns and regulatory information please visit the Catawba County Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control web site at: . Toni Norton, PE, Civil Engineer administering the program is located at the Government Center, 100A South West Blvd, Newton, NC 28658. She can be reached at 828-465-8161.

To reach the NC Department of Natural Resources, land Quality Section's web site, go to The Mooresville Regional Office telephone is 704-663-1699.

You can call in a report to:
Comments Hotline

What is soil erosion?
Erosion is the process by which soil particles are displaced. Typically erosion is caused by water, but there are other types caused by wind and gravity. Erosion is accelerated when water is moving fast and when there is a large volume of water washing over the soil.

Erosion strips the soil of nutrient rich topsoil and deposits it in other areas that may not be suitable like creeks and roads. In fact, sediment (displaced soil) can be extremely detrimental to aquatic habitats.

Where do I get a soil test box?
Soil test boxes are available at our office, at the NC Cooperative Extension Service office 828-465-8240, and at many farm supply stores in Catawba County.
A soil test report gives you precise nutrient requirements for the soil type and plant type in your situation. Think of the money you'll save by only adding the fertilizer you really need!
How is soil is tested?
The NC Dept. of Agriculture is a state agency that tests soils for free. Cardboard sampling boxes are available at extension offices and at Soil and Water Conservation District offices. You fill the box ¾ full with soil and send it to the testing facility in Raleigh. Sample three to four months before fertilizer applications to ensure there is enough time to get the report back.
There are also soil test kits for sale at local garden centers. These range from $3 to $7.

Equipment Needed:
  • Bucket
  • Small Garden Trowel
Be sure that all equipment is clean of dirt and fertilizer or any other debris. Equipment should be made of stainless steel or plastic. That way you avoid contaminating your sample with trace metals.


At approximately 5-10 locations within your property, take soil samples to a depth of 4" (lawn) or 8" (garden). Samples only need to be a spoonful or less. Each of the samples should come from the same soil type. Any soil that is VERY different in color or texture, should be tested separately. So avoid small areas where conditions are very different. Examples include: wet spots, natural areas, landscaped areas, etc. Mix all of the samples together thoroughly in the bucket. This will give you a composite sample to test.

Testing gives you precise information regarding the condition of your soil. With that information, you are able to:

  • Save money by purchasing only the fertilizer you need
  • Ensure that you are giving you lawn enough fertilizer to thrive
  • Protect nearby ponds and creeks from excess nutrients