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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: INTEGRATED ASSESSMENT AND ANALYSIS OF PHYSICAL LANDSCAPE PROCESSES THAT IMPACT THE QUALITY AND MANAGEMENT OF AGRICULTURAL WATERSHEDS

Location: Watershed Physical Processes Research Unit

Title: Gully evolution in agricultural fields using ground-based LiDar

Authors
item Momm, Henrique
item Wells, Robert
item Bingner, Ronald
item Dabney, Seth

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: July 15, 2011
Publication Date: September 18, 2011
Citation: Momm, H.G., Wells, R.R., Bingner, R.L., Dabney, S.M. 2011. Gully evolution in agricultural fields using ground-based LiDAR. Proceedings of the International Symposium on Erosion and Landscape Evolution. 18-21 Sept. 2011. Anchorage, AK. published on CD. pp. 342-349.

Interpretive Summary: Ephemeral and classical gullies are important sources of sediment in agricultural croplands. Understanding the physical processes involved in gully formation and evolution, require detailed topographic representation of the terrain at different scales (individual plot, field, and watershed scales). The dynamic nature of gullies adds an extra layer of complexity in monitoring gully features as they evolve due to changing conditions, such as precipitation events, vegetation growth, and conservation/management practices. The use of ground-based Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) systems can provide detailed topographic information at plot and field scales from various times during the year. Studies were performed to monitor gullies in a small catchment located in Kansas, USA through multi-temporal surveys using a LiDAR system to produce detailed elevation data at different dates. Detailed terrain models were generated and gully evolution was quantified by measurements of headcut migration, channel widening and volume change estimation. Although the findings of this study represent short-term morphological changes, these results demonstrate the potential for using sequential detailed Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) for long-term monitoring of the dynamic behavior of gullies located in agricultural fields, providing information for developing/validating gully evolution theories thus improving the development of conservation practices. The results of this study are critical in characterizing the evolution of gullies as they erode so effective conservation practices can be implemented to reduce the impact on the environment and maintain the productivity of agricultural fields.

Technical Abstract: Meeting the increasing demand for agricultural products is dependent on maintaining productive soils. Gully erosion in agricultural fields, has been shown in many regions to be as significant as sheet and rill erosion in delivering sediment to streams, rivers and lakes. Soil loss from all erosion sources is also much higher when gullies are present. Integrated conservation practices are needed to effectively control erosion from all sources in agricultural watersheds. In order to understand the effect of these practices, studies are necessary to improve our understanding of the processes involved in the formation and evolution of gullies in agricultural fields. Studies were performed to monitor gullies in a small catchment located in Kansas, USA through multi-temporal surveys using a ground-based Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) system to produce detailed topographic information. Elevation data, in the form of point clouds, obtained in each field campaign (surveys at different dates) were filtered to remove anomalous points representing vegetation and standing crop residue. Multi-temporal detailed terrain models were generated using irregular grids and gully evolution was quantified by measurements of headcut migration, channel widening and volume change estimation. Although the findings of this study represent short-term morphological changes, these results demonstrate the potential for using sequential detailed Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) for long-term monitoring of the dynamic behavior of gullies located in agricultural fields, providing information for developing/validating gully evolution theories thus improving the development of conservation practices.

Last Modified: 7/22/2014
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