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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Soil Erosion and Conservation

Authors
item Skidmore, Edward
item Van Donk, Simon

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: November 16, 2001
Publication Date: November 16, 2001
Citation: Skidmore, E.L., van Donk, S.J. Soil erosion and conservation. Benbi, D.K. and Nieder, R. editors. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press, Inc.; Chapter 9. 2003. p. 227-260.

Interpretive Summary: Soil erosion by wind and water is a worldwide problem. Approximately 90 percent of cropland in the USA is currently losing soil above the sustainable rate. Erosion rates are even higher in many other countries. Computer models can be useful tools to assess erosion and evaluate the effect of alternative management scenarios on erosion. The empirical wind erosion equation (WEQ) was developed in the 1960's to identify major factors influencing wind erosion, and to develop wind erosion control methods. Advances in wind erosion science and increased power of personal computers have allowed the development of a processed-based Wind Erosion Prediction System (WEPS) as a replacement for WEQ. WEPS includes submodels for erosion, hydrology, soil, crop, decomposition, and management. It is intended for planning soil conservation systems, providing environmental planning and assessment evaluations, and estimating offsite impacts of wind derosion. The Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) predicts average annual soil erosion by water. It is an empirical model based on a large number of experimental data from small plots. The Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) is a process-based model meant to replace USLE. It describes the processes that lead to erosion, including infiltration and runoff; soil detachment, transport, and deposition; and plant growth, senescence, and residue decomposition. The effects of tillage processes and soil consolidation are also modeled. The European Soil Erosion Model (EUROSEM) simulates erosion, transport and deposition of sediment over the land surface by interrill and rill processes, and it simulates the effects of plant cover on rainfall interception.

Technical Abstract: Soil erosion is a worldwide problem. Approximately 90 percent of cropland in the USA is currently losing soil above the sustainable rate. Soil erosion rates in Asia, Africa and Wouth America are estimated to be twice as high as those in the USA (US Global Change Researh Information Office, 2001). The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that 140 million ha of high quality soil, mostly in Africa and Asia, will be degraded by 2010, unless better land management practices are adopted. Agricultural producers, as well as managers of non-agricultural lands, need to know the effects of alternative management practices on soil erosion by wind and water. Real world experiments are too laborious and expensive for erosion assessments and evaluation of alternative management scenarios, so computer models have been developed for this purpose. Focus will be on basic erosion processes, modeling of these processes, model applications, and erosion control.

Last Modified: 10/21/2014
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