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Supporting USLE‐MM reliability by analyzing soil loss measurement errors
- Bagarello, Vincenzo, Ferro, Vito
- Hydrological processes 2017 v.31 no.4 pp. 847-853
- clay soils, data collection, mixing, models, prediction, risk, Italy
- Sampling the collected suspension in a storage tank is a common procedure to obtain soil loss data. A calibration curve of the tank has to be used to obtain actual concentration values from those measured by sampling. However, literature suggests that using a tank calibration curve was not a common procedure in the past. For the clay soil of the Sparacia (Italy) experimental station, this investigation aimed to establish a link between the relative performances of the USLE‐M and USLE‐MM models, usable to predict plot soil loss at the event temporal scale, and soil loss measurement errors. Using all available soil loss data, lower soil loss prediction errors were obtained with the USLE‐MM (exponent of the erosivity term, b₁ > 1) than the USLE‐M (b₁ = 1). A systematic error of the soil loss data is unexpected for the Sparacia soil because the calibration curve does not depend on the water level in the tank. In any case, this type of error does not have any effect on the b₁ exponent. Instead, this exponent decreases as the level of underestimation increases for increasing soil loss values. This type of error can occur at Sparacia if it is assumed that a soil loss measurement can be obtained by a bottle sampler dipped close to the bottom of the tank after mixing the suspension and assuming that the measured concentration coincides with the actual one. In this case, the risk is to obtain a lower b₁ value than the actual one. In conclusion, additional investigations on the factors determining errors in soil loss data collected by a sampling procedure are advisable because these errors can have a noticeable effect on the calibrated empirical models for soil loss prediction.