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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract - SOIL PHYSICS

Aggregate Stability and Erosion Response to Antecedent Water Content of a Loess Soil


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 73 No. 3, p. 718-726
    Received: Apr 10, 2007

    * Corresponding author(s): jan.vermang@UGent.be
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  1. J. Vermang *,
  2. V. Demeyer,
  3. W.M. Cornelis and
  4. D. Gabriels
  1. Ghent Univ., Dep. of Soil Management, Coupure links 653, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium


Soil erosion processes are affected by the erodibility of the soil and by the erosivity of the rain. The effects of rain characteristics and invariant soil properties such as texture and organic matter content on soil erosion processes are well documented. The effect of antecedent soil water content (θa) on aggregate breakdown, seal formation, and subsequent soil erosion is much more disputable, however, as opposing effects have been reported. We conducted lab experiments with a rainfall simulator on a Belgian silt loam soil. The objectives were to determine the effect of θa on seal formation, runoff, and soil loss and to evaluate its effect on an empirical sediment transport equation. Air-dried soil aggregates were subjected to θa of 0.04 (air-dry aggregates), 0.12, and 0.19 m3 m−3 No runoff occurred on the soils with the highest θa, highest total runoff values were observed for intermediate θa, while intermediate amounts of total runoff were observed for the air-dry aggregates. Soil loss, however, showed a different trend: highest values were found for the lowest θa, intermediate values for the intermediate θa, and no soil loss for the highest θa We further observed that θa had no influence on the final runoff rates and on the final infiltration rate through the soil surface. In using a water discharge and stream power equation to predict sediment transport, the intercept and exponent of the regression equations were found to be lower for θa of 0.19 than 0.12 m3 m−3, indicating decreasing erodibility with increasing θa We therefore suggest including θa as an additional variable to assess soil erodibility in deterministic event-based water erosion models.

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