Catchment Sensitive Farming: Practical Tips

Practical Tip: Stock tracks

Stock tracks are designed to reduce the amount of poaching and run-off and aid the movement of livestock. Practical tips on the construction of two types of stock track: bark/wood chippings and hardcore tracks (for heavier/frequent use) and the associated works are outlined below.

Bark/wood chippings

Excavate a trench 1.2 m wide and to a soil depth of 300 mm, or below to a depth where a firm base is reached, use the soil to profile the edge of the track so that it acts as bunding to prevent the movement of track materials. Line the trench with a slow draining geotextile membrane. Fill the trench with aggregate to a depth of 200 mm and compact it. Cover the aggregate with a quick draining geotextile membrane, ensuring it is tucked into the sides of the trench, on the outside of the bottom geotextile membrane (effectively containing all the aggregate). Cover with bark/wood chippings to a depth of 100 - 150 mm.

Source: Environment Agency

Hardcore tracks

Excavate a trench 2.4 m wide and to a minimum soil depth of 150 mm, or to a depth below this until a firm base is reached, use the soil to profile the edge of the track so that it acts as bunding and prevent the movement of track materials. Fill the trench with local stone or hardcore to a depth of 150 mm or more and compact, the exact depth of local stone/hardcore will depend upon the frequency of livestock movements. Top it off with a finer material (wearing course 18 mm to dust) to a depth of 25 - 50 mm and compact it into a camber with a vibrating roller so as to ensure track drainage. Any track run-off should be directed to a ditch or other stable drainage outlet or diverted into grassland.

Source: Scottish Agricultural College

It is also recommended that when a track passes through a low point or gulley in a field it would be worth putting a drain under the track so any surface water during or after heavy rain would flow under the track not over the top and cause erosion of the track. Drains should be a minimum depth of 100 mm and widths of 100 mm 250 mm. The depth and spacing of cross drains will depend upon the slope of the track, track design, rainfall and therefore the volume of water it seeks to intercept. If a channel with a grid on top is preferred it must be at least 150 mm wide. The resulting water should be directed to a stable drainage outlet such as a ditch, culvert or other drainage outfall.


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