Progress in physical geography vol:30 issue:4 pages:443-466
Tillage erosion has been identified as an important global soil degradation process that has to be accounted for when assessing the erosional impacts on soil productivity, environmental quality or landscape evolution. In this paper, we present a summary of available data describing tillage erosion. This provides insights in the controlling factors determining soil redistribution rates and patterns by tillage for various implements used in both mechanized and non-mechanized agriculture. Variations in tillage depth and tillage direction cause the largest variations in soil redistribution rates, although other factors, such as tillage speed and implement characteristics, also play an important role. In general, decreasing tillage depth and ploughing along the contour lines substantially reduce tillage erosion rates and can be considered as effective soil conservation strategies. Implement erosivities reported in literature, characterized by the tillage transport coefficient, are very consistent and range in the order of 400-800 kg m(-1) yr(-1) and 70-260 kg m(-1) yr(-1) for mechanized and non-mechanized agriculture, respectively. Comparison of tillage erosion rates with water erosion rates using a global data set indicates that tillage erosion rates are at least in the same order of magnitude or higher than water erosion rates, in almost all cases. Finally, we discuss how tillage erosion increases the spatial variability of soil properties and affects soil nutrient cycling. Considering the widespread use of tillage practices, the high redistribution rates associated with the process and its direct effect on soil properties, it is clear that tillage erosion should be considered in soil landscape studies.