Working with Jertberg, Strawberry Hills project leader Bruce Eisenman of the Soil Conservation Service designed a system that Jertberg said he at first rejected as more than his fields needed. But the severe winter of 1982-83 convinced Jertberg otherwise: Not only did he lose a lot of good soil, but property owners downhill from him also complained about the sediment. Then, too, there was the erosion-control ordinance.
"It was a real nightmare," Jertberg recalled. "There were no two ways about it: It was not a question of cost, but of whether I wanted to grow strawberries."
Under the project, a graded "diversion road" along the top of the field diverts runoff toward drains leading to a 24-inch pipe buried beneath the grassy access roads running vertically down the slope. Below the road, each row and furrow is graded in a 1% slope toward the drainage lines. Where each furrow meets the access road, a "pickup pipe"--6-inch buried corrugated plastic with a hole cut in the top at ground level--drains runoff from the field into the 24-inch pipe, which connects with the main drain at the base of the field.
Soil Filtered Out
The main drain flows into a basin, where any soil coming off the hill is filtered out for recovery at the end of the harvest, and the clear water passes on down a grassy water way to county-maintained culverts and ditches that carry it harmlessly to the Elkhorn estuary on Monterey Bay.