Gully Erosion Soil Quality Assessment on the Cultivated Slope Land in the Loess Plateau Region, China

  • 1. Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Northwest A & F University, Yangling 712100, China;
    2. State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on Loess Plateau, Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, CAS & MWR, Yangling 712100

Received date: 2011-05-12

  Revised date: 2011-11-13

  Online published: 2012-06-20


Characterized by dry climate, concentrated rainfall and fragile soil, the Loess Plateau has experienced serious soil erosion for long time. Gully erosion of cultivated slope land is wide and serious,which has led to tremendous soil and nutrient losses as well as production reduction. However, the effect of gully erosion on soil degradation hasn’t been paid enough attention from the managers and agricultural scientists because soil degradation is a gradual process and might not ostensibly lead to a serious loss of agricultural production. It’s still not quite clear about the effect of gully erosion on soil attributes and soil quality on the Loess Plateau. In the present study, the soil in the inter-gully was chosen to be the control soil. Sixty-four profiles, with various erosion depths were selected and 16 soil physiochemical indicators were determined in gully and inter-gully soil. Subsequently, a comprehensive assessment model was established through analyzing the effect of gully erosion on soil quality factors. Using principal component analysis (PCA) and stepwise discriminant analysis, the soil quality evolution under different gully erosion depths was evaluated quantitatively with weighted integrated method of PCA. The result showed that the effect of gully erosion on soil quality indicators was different in the cultivated slope land. In detail, gully erosion would harden the surface soil and increase pH value, while the changes of soil water-stable aggregate and nutrient content showed an obvious hierarchy with increment of gully erosion depth. The change law presents a "W shaped" pattern. The relationship between gully erosion and soil quality index (SQI) could be preferably fitted by the power function curve of y=0.8668 x-0.142(R2=0.877). Therefore, the SQI under the condition of low erosion intensity (<5 cm), moderate erosion intensity (5-30 cm) and high erosion intensity (30-50 cm) reduced 10.6%, 27.9% and 36.5%, respectively as compared with the control soil. It was noted that the SQI under moderate erosion intensity was 17.3% lower than that of low erosion intensity while about 8.6% higher than that of high erosion intensity. Thus, the erosion depths of 5 cm and 30 cm were the two critical points where the SQI reduced significantly. Besides, the soil quality indicators that could well responded to the gully erosion in the cultivated slope land could be classified into soil fertilizer indicator, texture indicator and structure indicator. Moreover, four soil quality indicators including soil organic matter, soil specific surface area, soil aggregate content and soil bulk density were identified as the most sensitive and simplified indicators for evaluating soil quality influenced by gully erosion in the cultivated slope land on the Loess Plateau.

Cite this article

LI Qiang, XU Ming-xiang, ZHAO Yun-ge, GAO Li-qian, ZHANG Jin, ZHANG Xiao-wei . Gully Erosion Soil Quality Assessment on the Cultivated Slope Land in the Loess Plateau Region, China[J]. JOURNAL OF NATURAL RESOURCES, 2012 , 27(9) : 1001 -1012 . DOI: 10.11849/zrzyxb.2012.09.001


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