Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Influence of Abiotic and Biotic Factors in Measuring and Modeling Soil Erosion on Rangelands: State of Knowledge

Authors
item Weltz, Mark
item Kidwell, Mary
item Fox, H - NRCS

Submitted to: Journal of Range Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 29, 1998
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: This report describes the history, current, and future erosion prediction technology available for rangelands. The first standardized erosion equation for rangelands was the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE). Because of limitations with this technology, it was revised. The Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) model now addresses temporal changes in soil erosion, plant factors, and non-linear slopes but requires a computer to implement the model. The Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) is a physically based erosion model that calculates daily, annual, or long-term (>30 yr) soil erosion and sediment yield. The WEPP model addresses daily changes in biomass, and seasonal changes in soil erosion, and land management practices. To advance existing technology, new research is needed to address interactions and feedback mechanisms between soil productivity, sustainable ecosystems, and soil erosion on rangelands. Improvements in data collection and model parameterization techniques are required before the next generation of erosion prediction models can be implemented on all grazing lands in the United States.

Technical Abstract: This report presents a brief history of erosion research on rangelands, describes current erosion prediction technology, and the limitation of this technology when applied to rangelands. The first standardized soil erosion prediction equation for rangelands was the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE). Because of limitations with the empirical USLE model, the model was revised. The Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) was developed to account for temporal changes in soil erodibility and plant factors. Improvements were made in the rainfall, length, slope, and management practice factors of the original USLE model. The Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) model was developed to estimate soil erosion from single events and long-term soil loss. The WEPP model addresses temporal changes in biomass, soil erodibility, and land management practices. To apply new processed-based erosion technology, basic research must be conducted to model the interactions and feedback mechanisms of plant communities and landscape ecology. As the technology for modeling soil erosion on rangelands has improved, limitations with the techniques of parameter estimation have been encountered. Improvements in model parameterization techniques are required before existing erosion prediction models can be implemented on rangelands.

Last Modified: 7/25/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page