European journal of soil science vol:53 issue:3 pages:449-463
Planners would like a simple means of describing spatial and temporal variations in soil erodibility accurately. We have done a series of concentrated flow detachment experiments to investigate the feasibility. Four different soil horizons, typical of loess-derived soils in Belgium, were sampled seven times during one year, so that a representative range of initial soil moisture contents was obtained. Undisturbed soil samples were subjected to five different combinations of slope gradient and concentrated flow discharge. Results showed that for a given soil horizon, variations in detachment rate could be related well to temporal variations in initial soil moisture content. For a given initial soil moisture content the ploughed topsoil horizon (A(p)) and the underlying clay-enriched horizon (B-t) had only one fifth of the erodibility of the loess horizon whether decalcified (C-1) or still calcareous (C-2). Combining knowledge on spatial distribution of soil profiles and initial soil moisture content allowed us to explain observed spatial and temporal variations in resistance to ephemeral gully erosion for soils in loess. Also, differences in ephemeral gully morphology (cross-sections) could be explained from differences in initial soil moisture content and soil horizon. In the short term these results have important implications for spatial and temporal variations in erosion, while in the medium or long term information on spatial distribution of soil profiles is crucial when predicting the volumes and patterns of (ephemeral gully) erosion. Finally, the importance of combining the effect of water and tillage erosion with respect to soil profile evolution and consequent erosion risk is stressed.