Maasvlakte 2, the port of Rotterdam expansion, is taking on more shape all the time. 190 million m3 of sand have now been sprayed on. Shortly, the new land will be protected on the western side against the sea by around six kilometres of dunes. Between February and the end of April 2011, contractor PUMA will be planting four kilometres on the seaward side of these dunes with marram grass. This will largely be done by hand. The marram grass will bind the sand of the new dunes, preventing erosion.
1.5 Million Plants
On the soft sea defences of Maasvlakte 2, a total of 200,000-300,000 m2 of dunes will be planted with marram grass. Eight to ten people a day will perform this manual work until April. It is expected that the final two kilometres will be planted in the autumn. When that work has been finished, the soft sea defences will contain around 1.5 million marram plants.
Marram grass is a strong plant that can withstand wind and salt well. The roots can grow to a length of six to nine metres and, in this way, bind the sand of the Maasvlakte 2 dunes. Marram can be planted in early spring or autumn. On flat stretches or slight inclines, a machine makes grooves in the ground. On steep slopes, this is done by hand, using a spade. The marram grass is then planted manually in the grooves and the base is pressed down with the foot.
The marram grass is taken from densely-grown dunes along the Dutch coast. Here, healthy marram grass may be removed, as long as no bald patches are created. The ‘cuttings’ are put into bunches of seven to ten to form a new plant, which is then planted out on Maasvlakte 2.
Soft Sea Defences
The dunes of Maasvlakte 2 form the soft sea defences of the new land. They are about 14 metres high and consist solely of sand. Most of the sand involved comes from the sand extraction area approximately 11 kilometres off the coast, and is sprayed on by Boskalis and Van Oord dredgers. The dunes are then finished off and the dune top is created using ‘dry equipment’, such as shovels, dumpers and diggers. As soon as the dunes are the right height and shape, they are planted with the marram grass.