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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 29 No. 1, p. 145-150
    Received: Sept 12, 1998

    * Corresponding author(s): Brian.Chambers@adas.co.uk
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Controlling Soil Water Erosion and Phosphorus Losses from Arable Land in England and Wales

  1. B. J. Chambers *,
  2. T. W. D. Garwood and
  3. R. J. Unwin
  1. A DAS Gleadthorpe Research Centre, Meden Vale, Mansfield, Notts, NG20 9PF, UK;
    A DAS Boxworth, Boxworth, Cambs CB3 8NN, UK;
    F arming and Rural Conservation Agency, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR, UK.



Soil water erosion and P losses were monitored annually in 13 erosion susceptible arable catchments (ca. 80 fields) in England and Wales between 1989 and 1994. Erosion was recorded in 38% of the 385 fields monitored, with ca. 80% of the erosion events occurring on land cropped to winter cereals. Three main factors were associated with the erosion events: poor crop cover (<15%), presence of valley floor features that concentrated surface runoff, and compacted tramlines/wheelings. The rainfall events causing erosion were generally greater than 15 mm/day (90% of cases), with maximum intensities >4 mm/h (94% of cases). Mean annual soil losses were 17 Mg/ha (median 0.48 Mg/ha). Annual edge-of-field P losses via soil (rill and gully) erosion from arable land were estimated at ca. 2300 Mg, equivalent to approximately 18% of estimated P losses from agricultural land in England and Wales. A number of erosion control techniques also were tested. The use of minimum (or noninversion) tillage techniques that leave straw on the soil surface were effective in reducing erosion, although there were some practical problems with crop establishment. Avoiding fine rolled seedbeds minimized slaking and capping at the soil surface, helping to maintain water infiltration rates and reduce runoff. Where winter cereals were grown, early drilling encouraged crop cover development during the autumn period, protecting the soil from the erosive impact of rainfall. To avoid wheeling compaction, tramlines were best set up after winter cereal crops had emerged and any trafficking delayed or avoided in the autumn.

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