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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: Erosion by water: vegetative control

Authors
item Dabney, Seth
item Gumiere, Silvio -

Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Environmental Management
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: January 23, 2012
Publication Date: March 1, 2013
Citation: Dabney, S.M., Gumiere, S.J. 2013. Erosion by water: vegetative control. Encyclopedia of Environmental Management. S.E. Jorgensen, ed. Taylor & Francis: New York, II:1036-1043.

Interpretive Summary: This review article describes how vegetation controls erosion. Vegetation controls erosion by dissipating the erosive forces of rainfall and runoff (erosivity - the strength of the forces causing erosion) and by reducing the susceptibility of soil to erosion (erodibility - how easily soil can be detached and transported). Vegetation alters the increases the amount of rainfall that soaks into the soil or is retained on the wet vegetation, and decreases the amount that runs off the land and may cause soil erosion and carry sediment. Vegetation also reduces the erosive forces by absorbing raindrop kinetic energy and by slowing runoff velocity. Vegetation reduces soil erodibility by increasing the formation of erosion-resistant aggregates, by binding aggregates together with roots, and increasing the soil's capacity to absorb water. Vegetation may cover the entire soil surface, as with crops, cover crops, or forests; or it may be limited to specific critical areas, as with various types of conservation buffers. This chapter reviews the mechanisms and processes by which vegetation reduces soil erosion by water, with emphasis on vegetative buffers.

Technical Abstract: Vegetation controls erosion by dissipating the erosive forces of rainfall and runoff (erosivity - the strength of the forces causing erosion) and by reducing the susceptibility of soil to erosion (erodibility - how easily soil can be detached and transported). Vegetation alters the partitioning of rainfall between the amount that soaks into the soil, the amount retained on the wet vegetation, and the amount that runs off the land and may cause soil erosion. Vegetation reduces the erosive forces by absorbing raindrop kinetic energy, by reducing the runoff volume, and by slowing runoff velocity. Vegetation reduces soil erodibility by increasing the formation of erosion-resistant aggregates, by binding aggregates together with roots, and increasing the soil's capacity to absorb water. Vegetation may cover the entire soil surface, as with crops, cover crops, or forests; or it may be limited to specific critical areas, as with various types of conservation buffers. This chapter reviews the mechanisms and processes by which vegetation reduces soil erosion by water, with emphasis on vegetative buffers.

Last Modified: 7/28/2014
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