The impact of standard preparation practice on the runoff and soil erosion rates under laboratory conditions
Abstract. The use of laboratory methods in soil erosion studies, rainfall simulation experiments, Gerlach troughs, and other measurements such as ring infiltrometer has been recently considered more and more because of many advantages in controlling rainfall properties and high accuracy of sampling and measurements. However, different stages of soil removal, transfer, preparation and placement in laboratory plots cause significant changes in soil structure and, subsequently, the results of runoff, sediment concentration and soil loss. Knowing the rate of changes in sediment concentration and soil loss variables with respect to the soil preparation for laboratory studies is therefore inevitable to generalize the laboratory results to field conditions. However, there has been little attention given to evaluate the effects of soil preparation on sediment variables. The present study was therefore conducted to compare sediment concentration and soil loss in natural and prepared soil. To achieve the study purposes, 18 field 1 × 1 m plots were adopted in an 18 % gradient slope with sandy–clay–loam soil in the Kojour watershed, northern Iran. A portable rainfall simulator was then used to simulate rainfall events using one or two nozzles of BEX: 3/8 S24W for various rainfall intensities with a constant height of 3 m above the soil surface. Three rainfall intensities of 40, 60 and 80 mm h−1 were simulated on both prepared and natural soil treatments with three replications. The sediment concentration and soil loss at five 3 min intervals after time to runoff were then measured. The results showed the significant increasing effects of soil preparation (p ≤ 0.01) on the average sediment concentration and soil loss. The increasing rates of runoff coefficient, sediment concentration and soil loss due to the study soil preparation method for laboratory soil erosion plots were 179, 183 and 1050 % (2.79, 2.83 and 11.50 times), respectively.