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Effect of land use on interrill erosion in a montane catchment of Northern Laos: An analysis based on a pluri-annual runoff and soil loss database
- Patin, J., Mouche, E., Ribolzi, O., Sengtahevanghoung, O., Latsachak, K.O., Soulileuth, B., Chaplot, V., Valentin, C.
- Journal of hydrology 2018 v.563 pp. 480-494
- Tectona grandis, agricultural land, cash crops, databases, energy, fallow, farming systems, highlands, infiltration rate, interrill erosion, land use, lognormal distribution, models, monitoring, rain, runoff, soil, sustainable land management, terraces, trees, understory, watersheds, Laos
- The introduction of cash crops and the evolution of farming practices in the uplands of Southeast Asia have drastically changed the agricultural landscape of the region during these last decades. This evolution has significantly increased soil erosion leading to important on and off-site effects. A long-term multi-scale monitoring of soil erosion was initiated in the early 2000’s in the Houay Pano catchment located near the city of Luang Prabang in Northern Laos to assess these effects and propose sustainable land management solutions. We report here the analysis and the modelling of the soil erosion measurements made during the whole period on 1m2 plots for different land uses. As expected, land use has an important impact on runoff production and soil erosion. The mean annual runoff coefficient increased from 0.05 for established fallow (4 years) to 0.45 for old teak trees plantation (14 years) with intermediate values for crops. The mean soil loss followed the same trend with respect to land use, from 25g m-2y-1 to 3765g m-2y-1. These measurements confirm that established fallow promotes infiltration and reduces erosion and, at the opposite, teak tree increases soil crusting, lowers the infiltration rate and enhances soil detachment. The splash and wash erosion component of a process-oriented model developed for terrace erosion was used. This model describes the soil loss after a rainfall event as the product of an effective soil detachability, the rainfall kinetic energy, the runoff coefficient and different attenuation factors linked to soil surface features. The agreement is good, both at the event and the yearly scales. When aggregated by land use, surface features percentages have low standard deviations and soil detachability variability may be described by a log-normal distribution. This suggests that each land use has a unique signature in the erosion process given by the percentages and the distribution. We conclude that: (i) leaving the litter layer and an understorey in crops and trees plantations is the best way to minimize soil erosion, and (ii) the splash and wash model may be helpful to set up optimal agronomic strategies for a sustainable land use of Southeast Asia uplands.