Submitted to: International Soil Conservation Organization Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/28/2006
Publication Date: 5/14/2006
Citation: Dabney, S.M., Yoder, D.C., Foster, G.R., Nearing, M.A. 2006. Application of RUSLE2 to Pasturelands. Proceedings of the 14th International Soil Conservation Organization Conference, May 14-19, 2006, Marrakesh, Morocco. (CD Paper T4-Dabney). Interpretive Summary: RUSLE2 (The Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation, version 2) is mandated by law for use in the United States for conservation planning. It is used for determination of (1) compliance of farming systems with conservation laws and (2) eligibility of farmers to participate in certain farm programs. RUSLE2 has been robustly calibrated against measured erosion data from cropland. However, a problem has been recognized when RUSLE2 is applied to perennial crops like pastures. RUSLE2 may over-estimate soil erosion from pastures if special steps are not taken to account for vegetative residue additions to the soil surface even during periods with increasing canopy cover. This paper illustrates a correct way to apply RUSLE2 to pasture system and shows that erosion estimates for pastures may be increased by a factor of from three to ten if proper methods are not used. Application of the methods suggested should improve the reliability of erosion estimates from pastures and increase the eligibility of well managed grazing lands for conservation programs by recognizing their conservation effectiveness.
Technical Abstract: The RUSLE2 erosion model can realistically predict average annual soil loss from perennial pasturelands but care must be taken to properly describe variation in living above- and below-ground biomass and to include residue additions during periods with net canopy increases.