Effects of soil management techniques on soil water erosion in apricot orchards

Agata Novara, Cesar Azorin-Molina, Antonio Jordán, Luis Parras-Alcántara, Eric C. Brevik, Paulo Pereira, Artemi Cerdà, Cesar Azorin-Molina, Saskia Keesstra

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article reviewpeer-review

263 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Soil erosion is extreme in Mediterranean orchards due to management impact, high rainfall intensities, steep slopes and erodible parent material. Vall d'Albaida is a traditional fruit production area which, due to the Mediterranean climate and marly soils, produces sweet fruits. However, these highly productive soils are left bare under the prevailing land management and marly soils are vulnerable to soil water erosion when left bare. In this paper we study the impact of different agricultural land management strategies on soil properties (bulk density, soil organic matter, soil moisture), soil water erosion and runoff, by means of simulated rainfall experiments and soil analyses. Three representative land managements (tillage/herbicide/covered with vegetation) were selected, where 20 paired plots (60 plots) were established to determine soil losses and runoff. The simulated rainfall was carried out at 55 mm h-1 in the summer of 2013 (<8% soil moisture) for one hour on 0.25 m2 circular plots. The results showed that vegetation cover, soil moisture and organic matter were significantly higher in covered plots than in tilled and herbicide treated plots. However, runoff coefficient, total runoff, sediment yield and soil erosion were significantly higher in herbicide treated plots compared to the others. Runoff sediment concentration was significantly higher in tilled plots. The lowest values were identified in covered plots. Overall, tillage, but especially herbicide treatment, decreased vegetation cover, soil moisture, soil organic matter, and increased bulk density, runoff coefficient, total runoff, sediment yield and soil erosion. Soil erosion was extremely high in herbicide plots with 0.91 Mg ha-1 h-1 of soil lost; in the tilled fields erosion rates were lower with 0.51 Mg ha-1 h-1. Covered soil showed an erosion rate of 0.02 Mg ha-1 h-1. These results showed that agricultural management influenced water and sediment dynamics and that tillage and herbicide treatment should be avoided.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-366
Number of pages10
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume551-552
Publication statusPublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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