Plot-scale measurement of soil erosion at the experimental area of Sparacia (southern Italy)

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Obtaining good quality soil loss data from plots requires knowledge of the factors that affect natural and measurement data variability and of the erosion processes that occur on plots of different sizes. Data variability was investigated in southern Italy by collecting runoff and soil loss from four universal soil-loss equation (USLE) plots of 176 m2, 20 ‘large’ microplots (0•16 m2) and 40 ‘small’ microplots (0•04 m2). For the four most erosive events (event erosivity index, Re ≥ 139 MJ mm ha−1 h−1), mean soil loss from the USLE plots was significantly correlated with Re. Variability of soil loss measurements from microplots was five to ten times greater than that of runoff measurements. Doubling the linear size of the microplots reduced mean runoff and soil loss measurements by a factor of 2•6–2•8 and increased data variability. Using sieved soil instead of natural soil increased runoff and soil loss by a factor of 1•3–1•5. Interrill erosion was a minor part (0•1–7•1%) of rill plus interrill erosion. The developed analysis showed that the USLE scheme was usable to predict mean soil loss at plot scale in Mediterranean areas. A microplot of 0•04 m2 could be used in practice to obtain field measurements of interrill soil erodibility in areas having steep slopes
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-157
Number of pages17
JournalHydrological Processes
Publication statusPublished - 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology


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