Erosion processes and landform evolution on agricultural land - New perspectives from caesium-137 measurements and topographic-based erosion modelling
Quine, TA × Govers, Gerard Walling, DE Zhang, XB Desmet, PJJ Zhang, YS Vandaele, K #
John wiley & sons ltd
Earth surface processes and landforms vol:22 issue:9 pages:799-816
Despite growing interest in soil erosion on agricultural land, relatively little attention has been paid to the influence of erosion processes on the pattern of contemporary landform evolution. This in part reflects the problems associated with upscaling the results of short-term process studies to temporal and spatial scales relevant to the study of landform evolution. This paper presents a new approach to examining the influence of erosion processes on landform evolution on agricultural land which employs: caesium-137 (Cs-137) measurements to provide medium-term (c.40 years) estimates of rates of landform change; experimental data and a topographic-based model to simulate soil redistribution by tillage; a mass-balance model of Cs-137 redistribution to separate the water erosion and tillage components of the Cs-137 'signatures'; and field observations of water erosion for validation. This approach is used to examine the relative importance of water erosion and tillage processes for contemporary landform evolution at contrasting sites near Leuven, in Belgium, and near Yanan, in Shaanxi Province, China. This application of the approach provides good agreement between the derived water erosion rates and field observations, and hitherto unobtainable insights into medium-term patterns and rates of contemporary landform evolution, At Huldenberg in Belgium, despite rill incision of slope concavities and ephemeral gully incision of the valley floor, contemporary landform evolution is dominated by infilling of slope and valley concavities (rates >0.5 mm a(-1)) and gradual lowering of slope angles as a result of tillage. In contrast, at Ansai (near Yanan) the slope is characterized by increase in slope angle over most of the length, recession of the steepest section at a rate >5 mm a(-1) and by increasing planform curvature, At this site, contemporary landform evolution is dominated by water erosion. The constraints on the approach are examined, with particular attention being given to limitations on extrapolation of the results and to the sensitivity of the models to parameter variation. (C) 1997 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.