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The aim of this Workshop was to debate the state-of- the-art with respect to the techniques used by European scientists to assess the severity of erosion and to see whether a coordinated European approach could be developed. Recent American work has concentrated on replacing the USLE with a more physically-based erosion model. Whilst European efforts at erosion modelling, by contrast, have been piecemeal with different researchers using different approaches. European scientists have been carrying out many fundamental studies into soil erosion processes which could provide the foundation for a European model for erosion prediction and for the evaluation of different strategies for erosion control. The Workshop was conceived in two sessions, the first covering procedures currently used in the mapping of erosion risk and the second dealing with approaches to soil erosion modelling. Because of the nature of the papers offered by the participants, a third section was added to cover the conservation practices. The section on erosion risk mapping describes procedures currently employed throughout Europe in the assessment of erosion risk. All authors emphasise the need to modify the equation for application in Europe. Particular attention is given to adapting the rainfall erosivity factor. A number of erosivity indices are tried and tested to obtain the best correlations between rainfall data and soil loss. Other factors that are used to assess soil erosion risk in Europe include soil erodibility, slopes, vegetation and conservation techniques. Often a simple scoring system is used to evaluate the importance of each of these factors in any one area. The scale at which assessment is carried out includes point locations, a grid system and cartographic units. Existing erosion is often taken as an indicator of soil erosion risk in an area. The offsite consequences of erosion, in the form of pollution of watercourses by nutrients and sediments, are also assessed. The Danish soils data are used to assess the erodibility of soils in the country, and this, in turn, is used as an indicator of the potential of these soils to be sources or suppliers of sediment. The section on erosion modelling begins with a framework for a European model. Clearly, if such a framework is to be developed into an operational procedure for erosion risk evaluation and soil conservation design, the details of the model will have to be established. This means analysing the erosion processes of soil detachment and transport and the effects of vegetation, soil properties and soil management on those processes. Although soil cohesion appears to be a promising index of erodibility, it may not be sufficient on its own. The stability of soil aggregates is widely used as one indicator of a soil's resistance to erosion but there is little agreement on the best way to measure this. If a model is to be used as a basis for soil conservation design, it is imperative that it takes account of different soil conservation techniques. Very little research has been carried out on how to incorporate soil conservation measures into erosion models or how to model whole soil conservation systems. In the third section, different approaches to modelling the effects of vegetation are reviewed. Even if soil conservation measures can be designed using a model that evaluates their physical base, they will only be effective if they are taken up by farmers. Modellers, as well as soil conservation advisers, must consider, therefore, the socio-economic factors that influence the adoption of soil conservation practices.

Additional information

Bibliographic Reference: EUR 10860 EN (1988) FS, PP 354, ECU 28.00, AVAILABILITY: AVAILABILITY: EUROFFICE, LUXEMBOURG, BP 1003, GDL
Availability: Can be ordered online
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