Soil erosion evaluation in a small watershed in Brazil through 137 Cs fallout redistribution analysis and conventional models



An investigation of rates and patterns of soil erosion on agricultural land cultivated with sugarcane was undert a ken using the 137Cs technique, USLE (Universal Soil Loss Equation) and WEPP (Water Erosion Prediction Project) model. The study was carried out on a representative catchment of a small watershed of the Piracicaba river basin, State of São Paulo, Brazil, called Ceveiro watershed, well known for its severe soil degradation caused by erosion. The results from the 137Cs technique indicate that most part of the studied area (94%) are eroded at erosion rates that go up to 59 Mg ha-1 y-1, with a weighted average rate of 23 Mg ha-1 y-1 . The weighted average rate of infield deposition and sediment retrieval that occurs in only 6% of the total area was estimated to be around 12 Mg ha-1 y-1 . These values led to very high net soil loss from the field, with rates of the order of 21 Mg ha-1 y-1 , which represents a sediment delive ry ratio of 97%. A linear correlation between soil erosion rate estimated by the 137Cs technique and the amount of available K in the top soil layer (0-20 cm) was observed. Based on this correlation the estimated amounts of net and gross K loss in the grid area due to soil erosion were of 0.2 and 1.52 kg ha-1 y-1, respectively. The erosion rate estimated by USLE was 39 Mg ha-1 y-1 and by WEPP model 16.5 Mg ha-1 y-1 with a sediment delivery of 12.4 Mg ha-1 y-1 (75%). The results are a confirmation that the soil conservation practices adopted in the area are very poor and can explain the high siltation level of water reservoirs in the watershed.

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