Erosion Damage Mapping: Assessing Current Soil Erosion Damage in Switzerland

Ledermann, Thomas; Herweg, Karl Günter; Liniger, Hanspeter; Schneider, Flurina; Hurni, Hans; Prasuhn, Volker (2008). Erosion Damage Mapping: Assessing Current Soil Erosion Damage in Switzerland. In: The soils of tomorrow. Advances in Geoecology: Vol. 39 (pp. 263-283). Catena

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Within the scope of a comprehensive assessment of the degree of soil erosion in Switzerland, common methods have been used in the past including test plot measurements, artificial rainfall simulation, and erosion modelling. In addition, mapping guidelines for all visible erosion features have been developed since the 1970s and are being successfully applied in many research and soil conservation projects. Erosion damage has been continuously mapped over a period of 9 years in a test region in the central Bernese plateau. In 2005, two additional study areas were added. The present paper assesses the data gathered and provides a comparison of the three study areas within a period of one year (from October 2005 to October 2006), focusing on the on-site impacts of soil erosion. During this period, about 11 erosive rainfall events occurred. Average soil loss rates mapped at each study site amounted to 0.7 t ha-1, 1.2 t ha-1 and 2.3 t ha-1, respectively. About one fourth of the total arable land showed visible erosion damage. Maximum soil losses of about 70 t ha-1 occurred on individual farm plots. Average soil erosion patterns are widely used to underline the severity of an erosion problem (e.g. impacts on water bodies). But since severe rainfall events, wheel tracks, headlands, and other “singularities” often cause high erosion rates, analysis of extreme erosion patterns such as maximum values led to a more differentiated understanding and appropriate conclusions for planning and design of soil protection measures. The study contains an assessment of soil erosion in Switzerland, emphasizing questions about extent, frequency and severity. At the same time, the effects of different types of land management are investigated in the field, aiming at the development of meaningful impact indicators of (un-)sustainable agriculture/soil erosion risk as well as the validation of erosion models. The results illustrate that conservation agriculture including no-till, strip tillage and in-mulch seeding plays an essential role in reducing soil loss as compared to conventional tillage.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > NCCR North-South Management Centre [discontinued]
08 Faculty of Science > Other Institutions > Teaching Staff, Faculty of Science
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Geographies of Sustainability
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
10 Strategic Research Centers > Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)

UniBE Contributor:

Ledermann, Thomas, Herweg, Karl Günter, Liniger, Hans Peter, Schneider, Flurina, Hurni, Hans


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 330 Economics
900 History > 910 Geography & travel




Advances in Geoecology






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Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 15:17

Last Modified:

02 Mar 2023 23:23

URI: (FactScience: 200328)

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