Articles | Volume 7, issue 4
Research article
22 Aug 2016
Research article |  | 22 Aug 2016

Soil wind erosion in ecological olive trees in the Tabernas desert (southeastern Spain): a wind tunnel experiment

Carlos Asensio, Francisco Javier Lozano, Pedro Gallardo, and Antonio Giménez

Abstract. Wind erosion is a key component of the soil degradation processes. The purpose of this study is to find out the influence of material loss from wind on soil properties for different soil types and changes in soil properties in olive groves when they are tilled. The study area is located in the north of the Tabernas Desert, in the province of Almería, southeastern Spain. It is one of the driest areas in Europe, with a semiarid thermo-Mediterranean type of climate. We used a new wind tunnel model over three different soil types (olive-cropped Calcisol, Cambisol and Luvisol) and studied micro-plot losses and deposits detected by an integrated laser scanner. We also studied the image processing possibilities for examining the particles attached to collector plates located at the end of the tunnel to determine their characteristics and whether they were applicable to the setup. Samples collected in the traps at the end of the tunnel were analyzed. We paid special attention to the influence of organic carbon, carbonate and clay contents because of their special impact on soil crusting and the wind-erodible fraction. A principal components analysis (PCA) was carried out to find any relations on generated dust properties and the intensity and behavior of those relationships. Component 1 separated data with high N and OC contents from samples high in fine silt, CO3= and available K content. Component 2 separated data with high coarse silt and clay contents from data with high fine sand content. Component 3 was an indicator of available P2O5 content. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was carried out to analyze the effect of soil type and sampling height on different properties of trapped dust. Calculations based on tunnel data showed overestimation of erosion in soil types and calculation of the fraction of soil erodible by wind done by other authors for Spanish soils. As the highest loss was found in Cambisols, mainly due to the effect on soil crusting and the wind-erodible fraction aggregation of CaCO3, a Stevia rebaudiana cover crop was planted between the rows in this soil type and this favored retention of particles in vegetation.

Short summary
Climate and soil surface conditions influence the erosive capacity of the wind, causing loss of soil productivity. Wind erosion leads soil drying and its loss of nutrients, and this in turn is conditioned by soil surface compaction. The impact of management on most of soil properties and on its wind erodibility determines agricultural productivity and sustainability. We used a new wind tunnel to evaluate all these acts.