Estimating Soil Erosion for Conservation Planning
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John R. McCarthy
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Donald L. Pfost
Department of Agricultural Engineering
Department of Agronomy
Soil conservation helps preserve farmland and, over time, will improve crop yields. This guide explains the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) developed by research on more than 10,000 plot-years of soil erosion at 49 sites throughout the country.
The equation has five variables that contribute to soil erosion. They include rainfall, soil type, slope length and steepness, residue, and erosion control practices used such as contour tillage. These variables are assigned values according to the characteristics of a particular area. The calculations result in an estimated soil erosion in tons per acre per year factor.
This guide, adapted for Missouri, further explains each variable and often gives charts for assigning a value to each. Sample problems are provided to help those who want to compute soil erosion in individual fields.
- Contour strip-cropping
- Crop rotation
- Tillage practices