Using Old Conveyor Belts to Prevent Erosion on Gravel Ranch Roads

by David Redhage

The Kerr Center Ranch has miles of gravel roads, some of them on steep slopes. Due to heavy rainfall events, these roads are experiencing erosion issues.

In 2018, we installed some conveyor belt diverters to move the water off the road surface at various intervals. The interval varies with the slope of the road.

The conveyor belt should be set with at least a 30% angle to the road, and should only leave 4-5 inches exposed above the road surface, so that a vehicle can cross it. The conveyor belt diverters are not for roads with heavy traffic.

Overall, we have been pleased with the results. We have cleaned some material off the upslope side of the diverters due to material movement, but we have not needed to grade the roads, and no ditches have formed in the road surface over the last year, despite several heavy rainfall events. We are considering additional locations on the ranch to install more diverters.

Materials and installation costs include:

Belt30′ x 3/8”-1/2” thick$2.28/ft. + shipping*


Treated lumber 2” x 6” x 14′ $10.50/board


Screws 4″ galvanized$2.00


Backhoe 0.5 hours$85/hr. (minimum 4 hr. charge)


Labor1.5 hours$10/hr.




*Costs will vary depending on your location. We can purchase used belt either from Texas or Wisconsin; shipping costs will vary.

We would prefer to use a small ditch excavator rather than a backhoe, but our location didn’t allow us the choice. A small ditch excavator would be cheaper and leave a smaller trench. The backfill would be easier. Using a backhoe requires you to come back and refill on the upper side due to settlement of the soil.

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