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Sci Total Environ. 2007 May 25;378(1-2):161-5. Epub 2007 Feb 15.

Effect of vegetal cover on runoff and soil erosion under light intensity events. Rainfall simulation over USLE plots.

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Instituto Madrileño de Investigación en Desarrollo Rural, Agrario y Alimentario (IMIDRA), Finca Experimental El Encín, Ctra. A-2, km 38.2, 28800, Madrid, Spain.


The erosive power of frequent light rainfalls is studied in this paper. Field experiments of simulated rainfall (Intensity, 21 mm h(-1) and kinetic energy, 13.5 J m(-2) mm(-1)) were conducted over 8 bounded USLE plots (80 m(2) each) with a slope of 10%. In 4 plots the soil was almost bare (<4% vegetation cover); the other 4 plots had almost full cover with natural vegetation in one year. Runoff and sediment yield was recorded. The results revealed the efficiency of vegetation cover reducing runoff and sediments. Runoff and sediments were negligible in covered plots. Therefore, in bare plots, although sediment yield was generally low, averaging 74+/-43 kg ha(-1), the mean of runoff achieved a coefficient of 35%, this magnitude has to be taken into consideration in this region verging on aridity. Rains around 13.5 J m(-2) mm(-1) of kinetic energy are quite frequent in the study area (34% of recorded rains en 12 years). If we would consider the usual lower limits from the literature, we would be ignoring an important percent of natural rainfall episodes.

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