Effects of drainage ditches and stone bunds on topographical thresholds for gully head development in North Ethiopia
Earth and related Environmental sciences
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Gully erosion is an extreme process of land degradation operating in different regions of the world. A common way to quantify the susceptibility of land to gully incision is the use of topographical thresholds for different land use types. However, the impact of various management practices in cropland on these thresholds has not been studied to date, although land management may significantly affect runoff production, erosion processes and rates. Here, the impact of different land management practices on gully head development in cropland is studied based on a standardized procedure for topographical threshold analysis: s > kA− b, where s represents the slope gradient of the soil surface, A the drainage area at the gully head, b an exponent and k a coefficient reflecting the resistance of the land to gully head development. A case study area was chosen around Wanzaye, North Ethiopia, where three different cropland management practices were studied in 75 catchments: (i) the catchment-wide use of stone bunds on the contour, (ii) the use of slightly sloping drainage ditches (feses), and (iii) the combined use of stone bunds and feses. The lowest k-values (0.078 0.090) are found for catchments treated with feses, the highest k-values (0.198 0.205) are observed for stone bund catchments, and medium k-values (0.092 0.099) are found for mixed catchments. This finding implies that catchments with the exclusive use of drainage ditches are the most vulnerable to gully head development compared with mixed catchments and stone bund catchments. However, on-site sheet and rill erosion rates are reduced by feses as they lower the gradient of the overland flow lines. Three trends in cropland management around Wanzaye and the wider region are observed: (i) feses are exclusively made on rather steep slopes where small drainage areas lead to the rapid development of gully heads; (ii) stone bunds are constructed on both steeper and gentle sloping cropland; and (iii) larger and gently sloping catchments seem to be most suitable for the combined use of drainage ditches and stone bunds.
CitationMonsieurs, E.; Poesen, J.; Dessie, M.; Adgo, E.; Verhoest, N.; Deckers, J.; Nyssen, J. (2015). Effects of drainage ditches and stone bunds on topographical thresholds for gully head development in North Ethiopia. , Geomorphology, Vol. 234, 193-203, DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2015.01.011.