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Journal of Environmental Biology April, 2007

Determination of soil erosion in a steep hill slope with different land-use types:
A case study in Mertesdorf (Ruwertal / Germany)
Sezgin Hacisalihoglu*
Department of Watershed Management, Faculty of Forestry, Karadeniz Technical University, Trabzon-61080, Turkey
(Received: September 09, 2005 ; Revised received: February 15, 2006 ; Accepted: March 20, 2006)
Abstract: Inappropriate land use is one of the main reasons for soil erosion and land degradation. Vine growing plays an important role in many
semiarid regions all over the world as a permanent plant cover in terms of preventing erosion, sustainable use of land and water resources, defense
against desertification and settling population in rural areas. In this paper, in a steep hill slope of the village Mertesdorf (Ruwertal/Germany), Algemeine
boden abtrags gleichung (ABAG) have been applied to determine and compare the soil erosion amounts between the different land use types such as
vine growing, forest lands, grasslands, shrubs and new forestations. The results show that the soil erosion amounts differs in a high ratio between the
land use types. Soil erosion amounts in the vine growing areas are the highest (6.47 t/ha/year), then comes with 1.19 t/ha/year the over grazed
grasslands and the lowest erosion amounts have been determined, as expected, in the forest lands (0.66 t/ha/year).
Key words: Soil erosion, Land use, Vineyard, ABAG, USLE
Introduction
As human demands increase, the sustainable use of land
becomes more important. Better land management involves
identifying land use changes, understanding current land use
patterns or features and assessing economic and ecological
benefits and costs that arise from land use practices, as well as
finding the best alternatives for each area (Wu et al., 2001).
Land use change may affect many natural phenomena
and ecological processes (Turner, 1989), including water runoff,
erosion (Burel et al., 1993; Fu et al., 1994) and soil conditions. It
can drastically modify resistance of soil to environmental changes
in particular, it can increase the vulnerability of semi arid
ecosystems (Martinez Fernandez et al., 1995).
Inappropriate land use is one of the main reasons for soil
erosion and nutrient loss in the hilly area (Fu et al., 2000).
Furthermore, vine growing plays an important role not only
from the economic point of view, but also environmentally as a
permanent plant cover in terms of preventing erosion, managing
land and water resources in a sustainable way, defending against
desertification and settling population in rural areas (Martin de
Santa Olalla, 1994).
Vine growing plays an important role in many semiarid
farming regions all over the world as a permanent plant cover in
terms of preventing erosion, sustainable use of land and water
resources, defense against desertification and settling population
in rural areas.
Ecological soil functions are generally and frequently in
change. Soil erosion not only affects soil functions and soil usage
but also affects soil characteristics and plant nutrient economy in
*Corresponding author: E-Mail: sezgin970@gmail.com, Tel.: +90 462 3772840, Fax: +90 462 2297001
the neighborhood lands as well. Several studies have been
realized to determine and reduce these negative effects. At the
end of these studies, several equations were given for calculating
the quantity of soil loss (Bork, 1996).
Especially Wischmeier and Smiths (1978) studies in USA
are the avant gardes searches about this subject. The first
formula about the soil erosion quantity is USLE (Universal soil
loss equation) which has been developed and modified up to
now several times was hold in the same period as well. Although
several models and formulas were developed which calculates
the soil erosion quantity. The most common model is still USLE,
because of easy application and prediction reality. In this study
obtained results and related statistical evaluations about the soil
erosion values in a slope land with different land uses in
Mertesdorf village in trier city in Rheinland Pfalz state in Germany
were given by the model of ABAG (Algemeine boden abtrags
gleichung) (Schwertmann, 1987) which is the form of USLE
integrated to European conditions by turning into metric system.
Materials and Methods
Description of the study area: This study was realized in
Mertesdorf village in trier city in Rheinl and Pfalz state in Germany
in a slope land with different land uses (Fig. 1). In this village
there is a research station which was constructed by Prof. Dr.
Gerold Richter in 1974 for soil erosion studies. Some data were
obtained from this station for this study.
The Rhenish slate mountains are dissected by the deep
Rhine and Mosel valleys, which are crossing the mountains on
their way to the North sea. This valley system is favored by a
warm climate especially during the summer months. Therefore, it
Journal of Environmental Biology April 2007, 28(2) 433-438 (2007)
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Journal of Environmental Biology April, 2007
Sezgin Hacisalihoglu
Fig. 1: Location of the soil erosion measurement station and the study area at Mertesdorf (Ruwertal/Germany)
has two of Germans most famous vine growing regions called
Mittelrhein and Mosel Saar Ruwer (Richter, 1991).
Study has been realized on a steep sloped hill side with
different land use types (vineyards, over grazed grasslands,
regeneration areas, scattered shrubs and forest areas) in 315
plots (Fig. 2).
In every plot, skeleton amounts, humus proportion, soil
type, soil depth, aggregate si zes, permeability value, plot
lengths, plot widths, plot slopes, land use types, soil treatment
di recti on, pl ant type, posi ti on of the undergrowth were
determined in study area and laboratory. Mertesdorf research
station laboratory was used for determination of soil type and
soil depth data.
As a consequence of the geomorphologic conditions a high
percentage of the vineyards is growing here on steep slopes. About
75% of all vineyards have a slope of more than 35% (Jatzold, 1990).
Although the soils have a large permeability and additional
protection by a rock content of 30-50%, these steep sites are highly
susceptible to soil erosion (Richter, 1991).
General aspect of the research area is southwest (SW).
Slope grades changes between 35%-50% (Fig. 2). Mean annual
precipitation (except snow) is approximately 600 mm (340 mm in
summer, 260 mm in winter). Measurements between 1974-1988
show that 370 mm of the precipitation pass through runoff and
cause to soil erosion (Richter, 1979).
The soils, which have been developed on slates, are
general rocky and of the acid brown earth types. In the study
area, the rigosol on slate weathering has a depth of about one
meter and consists of 1/3 stones, 1/3 of sandy fraction and 1/3 of
silt and clay (Richter, 1991).
Soil erosion amount in every plot was calculated as ton/
hectare/year by ABAG (Schwertmann et al., 1987). According to
the land use types, relations and changes between soil erosion
values were examined by the help of statistical program SPSS.
ANOVA and Duncan test was used for the statistical evaluation.
ABAG (Algemeine boden abtrags gleichung): ABAG is an
equation (1) which was adapted to European conditions and into
metric system by changing USLE, improved by Wischmeier and
Smith (1978) in USA (Schwertmann et al., 1987).
A = R x K x L x S x C x P (1)
In the equation:
A = Annual soil erosion including long period and its unit is ton/
hectare/year.
R = Precipitation and runoff factor. This factor shows effective
degree of the precipitation in soil erosion and calculated by
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Journal of Environmental Biology April, 2007
Determination of soil erosion in a steep hill slope
Fig. 2: Study area and the 315 study plots with different land use types
435
Journal of Environmental Biology April, 2007
Sezgin Hacisalihoglu
the kinetic energy value of the each precipitation and
precipitation density.
K = Soil erosion degree factor. This value is measured in a
standard parcel (parcel length is 22 meter and slope is 9%).
L = Slope length factor. It gives the soil erosion values of a slope
according to the standard parcel slope length.
S = Slope factor. It gives soil erosion values in a slope according
to the standard parcel slope.
C = Plant coverage and treatment factor. It gives the soil erosion value
in an area with required plant composition and treatment type.
P = Conservation precautions factor from soil erosion. It gives
the effect of soil conservation precautions on the soil erosion
(Schwertmann et al., 1987).
Results and Discussion
Results from 315 plots in di fferent land use types
(vineyards, forests, regeneration areas, scattered shrubs, partly
overgrazed grasslands) were evaluated statistically (ANOVA).
Highest erosion amount (6.47 t/ha/year) was obtained in vineyards
and it was determined that only between vineyards and other land
use types there is a significant difference in soil erosion amounts
at significant level p<0.05 (Table 1, 2 and Fig. 3).
Evaluations between the areas except vineyards show
that highest soil erosion amount is in the grasslands (1.19 t/ha/
year) (Table 3, 4 and Fig. 4). Because of the over grazing and
pressed soil surface due to animal impression, soils loose their
infiltration ability and soil erosion amount could be increased
(Bermudez et al., 1998).
Fig. 4: Mean of erosion amounts in different land
Land use
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Fig. 3: Mean of erosion amounts in different land use types
Land use
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Table - 3: Results of ANOVA in different land use types except of vineyards
Sum of Df Mean F-ratio p
squares square
Between 5.375 3 1.792 6.059 0.001
groups
Within 62.091 210 0.296
groups
Total 67.465 213
Df = Degrees of freedom
Table - 1: Results of ANOVA for the soil erosion amounts in different
land use types
Sum of Df Mean F-ratio p
squares square
Between 2189.22 4 547.307 46.543 0.000
groups
Within 3645.35 310 11.759
groups
Total 5834.58 314
Df = Degrees of freedom
Table - 2: Results of Duncan test
Land use N Subset for p<0.05
1 2
Forest 60 0.6670
Regeneration 23 0.7135
Shrub 106 0.8657
Grassland 25 1.1952
Vineyard 101 6.4737
p 0.529 1.000
N = Number of samples
Table - 4: Results of Duncan test
Land use N Subset for p<0.05
1 2
Forest 60 0.6670
Regeneration 23 0.7135
Shrub 106 0.8657
Grassland 25 1.1952
p 0.143 1.000
N = Number of samples
436
Journal of Environmental Biology April, 2007
Determination of soil erosion in a steep hill slope
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Fig. 6: Effects of the plant coverage on erosion in vineyards
Plant cover
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When the vineyards, the most important agricultural
activity in the research area, evaluated with each other (Table 5,
Fig. 5), it was found that if soil treatment has been done between
the vineyards, plant coverage did not occur on the soil surface.
Soil surface stony structure which increases infiltration and
decreases splash effect of rain could be decreased (Ruttimann
et al., 1995; Komas et al., 1997; Huang et al., 2001) and due to
these events, soil erosion is increased at the ratio of 1/3.
When the effects of plant coverage existence on the soil
surface examined, it was seen that soil erosion amount in areas
with plant coverage is 6 times lower than in areas with no plant
coverage (Table 6, Fig. 6).
The lowest soil erosion amount is calculated in the forest
lands. In forest lands trees cause interception by leaves, branches
and stems which prevents the direct falling of the precipitation on
the soil surface (Hacisalihoglu et al., 2003). High amount of organic
matter affects the soil characteristics positively. Consequently, soil
erosion occurs in forest lands in low amounts (Bryan, 2000). If
canopy and density of the forest areas decreases, erosion amounts
increase (Bermudez, 1998).
In high slope lands, if protective plant coverage is removed
from the soil surface or agricultural facilities are done without
protective precautions, soil erosion amount could be increased.
Land use type deal with soil erosion is the most important
environmental problems. These problems can be solved with the
help of useful land use and agricultural facilities by taking
necessary protective precautions.
Acknowledgments
I would like to thank to the University of Trier for their
technical supports and to Prof. Dr. Gerold Richter for their help
and interests during and after the study period.
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437
Journal of Environmental Biology April, 2007
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Sezgin Hacisalihoglu 438