ISSN 1392-3196 / e-ISSN 2335-8947
Zemdirbyste-Agriculture, vol. 103, No. 4 (2016), p. 339–346
DOI  10.13080/z-a.2016.103.043

Assessment of soil erosion processes as influenced by different land-use systems on hilly rolling landscape of Western Lithuania



The objective of this study was to estimate long-term effect of different land-use/cover systems on soil erosion processes on the hilly topography of Žemaičiai Upland in Lithuania. The study analyses long-term (18 years) monitoring data from three individual erosion experiments set up on slopes of 7–8°, 7–9° and 9–11° steepness with installed water and outwash collectors. Six land use systems were investigated: field crop rotation (F), field crop rotation with the black fallow (FF), erosion-resisting grain-grass (GR), erosion-resisting grass-grain (GS), not fertilized and not used grassland (NG) and fertilized and mown grassland (FG). It was found that soil erosion losses and water runoff volume on the slopes of the arable agricultural land generally depended on the erosion-preventative capabilities of different crops, tillage technology and vegetation cover of slope, soil texture and precipitation characteristics. Torrential rainfall in summer and autumn was the cause of most cases of rainwash and soil loss – 167.8–229 Mg ha-1 yr-1, which is described as very strong erosion. Climate warming processes (about 0.7°C over more than 30 years) and a positive air temperature encouraged snow melting and runoff water flow down of the slope surface, even during the cold period.

Summarized long-term research results suggest that the highest average annual precipitation runoff volume – 529 hl ha-1 yr-1 and average annual soil loss – 11.6 Mg ha-1 yr-1 were from bare soil plot in the black fallow land-use system on 9–11° slope with a larger amount of sand particles compared with the other experimental soil. Erosion-resisting grain-grass and grass-grain land-use systems decreased soil loss compared with black fallow system by on average 5 and 15.5 times, respectively. Effectiveness of soil loss reduction of the not fertilized and not used grassland and fertilized and mown grassland land-use/cover systems with a cover formed of permanent multi-component plant mixture was 99–100%. High erosion resistance of plants by using suitable land-use systems on the hillslopes markedly reduced soil loss (r = −0.99, P < 0.01, n = 18) and runoff volume (r = −0.607, P < 0.01, n = 18). Not fertilized and not used and fertilized and mown grassland systems prevented erosion regardless of the location, steepness of the slope and soil texture and increased the stability against erosion by water on the hilly topography of Lithuania.

Key words: erosion-preventative systems, hillslopes, long-term experiments, soil loss, water runoff, Žemaičiai Upland.

Full text: 103_4_str43.pdf