Advertisement

Assessment of land management practices on soil erosion using SWAT model in a Tunisian semi-arid catchment

  • Manel MosbahiEmail author
  • Sihem Benabdallah
Sediments, Sec 3 • Hillslope and River Basin Sediment Dynamics • Research Article

Abstract

Purpose

Soil erosion is a widespread problem that has threatened the majority of Mediterranean countries. Land management practices are widely used to minimize runoff and sediment loads at the catchment scale. However, their effectiveness cannot be easily assessed. Thus, models have been applied to estimate their impact on runoff dynamics and soil erosion and to identify the optimal conservation measure that can be used for specific land uses.

Materials and methods

This study applied the SWAT model to spatially predict soil erosion over the Sarrath River catchment (1491 km2) in northwestern Tunisia, and to evaluate the effectiveness of different land management practices in reducing runoff and soil erosion. Calibration and validation of the model were done at the monthly scale for the period 2001–2008. Seven scenarios of best management were proposed including three combined scenarios. Each scenario needed a modification of one or more input parameters in SWAT model. The baseline values, scenario 0, represent the existing conditions.

Results and discussion

The SWAT model was successful in reproducing water flow, and a good correlation between simulated runoff and sediment yield was observed. Simulated average soil erosion rate for the baseline conditions was 5.1 t ha−1 year−1. It was found that only 10% of the total area can experience high and very high soil erosion risk, but disproportionately contribute to the maximum amount of the total soil loss (71%). Implementation of individual scenarios reduced runoff from 5 to 22% and sediment loads from 5 to 30% from the baseline scenario. Combining different scenarios resulted in greater reduction. The highest reductions were achieved when combining reforestation of degraded lands and bare lands with contour farming and parallel terraces on agricultural fields.

Conclusions

Simulation results showed that land conservation measures could reduce sediment yield by about 5 to 43% and runoff by 5 to 32%. For individual scenarios, parallel terraces were the most effective both for runoff and for sediment loss, followed by forestation. The best results were obtained for combined scenarios. Targeting the prioritized sub-catchments, reductions reached 78% for runoff and 88% for sediment loss in sub-catchment 4.

Keywords

Management strategies Soil erosion Spatial pattern SWAT model 

Notes

References

  1. Arabi M, Frankenberger JR, Engel BA, Arnold JG (2007) Representation of agricultural conservation practices with SWAT. Hydrol Process 22(16):3042–3055CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arnold JG, Srinivasan R, Muttiah RS, Williams JR (1998) Large area hydrologic modeling and assessment. Part I: model development. J Am Water Resour Assoc 34:73–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Benabdallah S (2009) Upland watershed management in the developing world: The case of Tunisia. In: Garrido A (ed) Managing Water Resources in a Time of Global Change, 1st edn. Taylor & Francis Group, London, p 147–161Google Scholar
  4. Betrie GD, Mohamed YA, Van Griensven A, Srinivasan R (2011) Sediment management modelling in the Blue Nile Basin using SWAT model. Hydrol Earth Syst Sc 15:807–818CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bingner RL, Theurer FD (2001) AnnAGNPS: estimating sediment yield by particle size for sheet & rill erosion. In Proceedings of the sediment: monitoring, modeling, and managing, 7th Federal Interagency Sedimentation Conference, Reno, NV, 25–29 March 2001, pp 1–7Google Scholar
  6. Bouraoui F, Benabdallah S, Jrad A, Bidoglio G (2005) Application of the SWAT model on the Medjerda river basin (Tunisia). Phys Chem Earth 30:497–507CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Collinet J, Zante P, Balieu O, Ghesmi M (2001) Risk mapping erosion of Zanfour hill dam watershed (North of Tunisia). CRDA Kef, IRD, 60p. Retrieved from http://horizon.documentation.ird.fr/exl-doc/pleins_textes/divers15-12/010025514.pdf (in French)
  8. FAO (1977) Erosion and watershed management in Mediterranean countries. Revue: Terre Eaux Hommes 30(9):27–45 (in French)Google Scholar
  9. FAO (1987) Soil and water conservation in semi-arid areas. FAO Soils Bulletin, No. 57/Rome (Italy), 185 p. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/docrep/t0321e/t0321e00.HTM
  10. Flanagan DC, Nearing MA (1995) USDA Water Erosion Prediction Project hillslope and watershed model documentation. NSERL Report N°10. National Soil Erosion Research Laboratory. USDA Agricultural Research Service, West Lafayette, Indiana, USAGoogle Scholar
  11. Gassman PW, Reyes MR, Green CH, Arnold JG (2007) The soil and water assessment tool: historical development, applications and future research directions. ASABE 50(4):1211–1250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Knisel WG (1980) CREAMS: a field scale model for chemicals, runoff and erosion from agricultural management systems. USDA Conservation Research Report N°26Google Scholar
  13. Masson JM (1972) L'érosion des sols par l’eau en climat méditerranéen. Méthodes expérimentales pour l’étude des quantités érodées à l’échelle du champ. La Houille Blanche (8):673–678Google Scholar
  14. Melaku ND, Renschler CS, Holzmann H, Strohmeier S, Bayu W, Zucca C, Ziadat F, Klik A (2018) Prediction of soil and water conservation structure impacts on runoff and erosion processes using SWAT model in the northern Ethiopian highlands. J Soils Sediments 18(4):1743–1755CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Merrit WS, Letcher RA, Jakeman AJ (2003) A review of erosion and sediment transport models. Environ Model Softw 18:761–799CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Morgan RPC, Quinton JN, Smith RE, Govers G, Poesen JWA, Auerswald K, Chisci G, Torri D, Styczen ME (1998) The European soil erosion model (EUROSEM): a dynamic approach for predicting sediment transport from fields and small catchments. Earth Surf Process Landf 23:527–544CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Mosbahi M, Benabdallah S, Boussema MR (2012) Assessment of soil erosion risk using SWAT model. Arab J Geosci 6(10):4011–4019CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Mosbahi M, Benabdallah S, Boussema MR (2014) Sensitivity analysis of a GIS-based model: a case study of a large semi-arid catchment. Earth Sci Inf 8(3):569–581CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Nasri S (2007) Characteristics and hydrological impacts of a cascade of bench terraces on a semi-arid hillslope in central Tunisia. Hydrol Sci J 52(6):1134–1145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ndomba PM, Van Griensven A (2011) Suitability of SWAT model for sediment yields modeling in the eastern Africa, advances in data, methods, models and their applications in geoscience. Technical Paper, University of Dares Salam, Dares Salaam, TanzaniaGoogle Scholar
  21. Neitsch SL, Arnold JG, Kiniry JR, Williams JR (2005) Soil and water assessment tool, theoretical documentation version 2005. Grassland, Soil and Water Research Laboratory, Texas, USAGoogle Scholar
  22. Tamene L, Vlek PLG (2007) Assessing the potential of changing land use for reducing soil erosion and sediment yield of catchments: a case study in the highlands of northern Ethiopia. Soil Use Manag 23:82–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Tripathi MP, Panda RK, Raghuwanshi NS (2003) Identification and priorisation of critical sub-watersheds for soil conservation management using the SWAT model. Biosyst Eng 85(3):365–379CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Vrieling A, Sterk G, Vigiak O (2006) Spatial evaluation of soil erosion risk in the west Usambara mountains, Tanzania. Land Degrad Dev 17:301–319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Wang ZY, Wang G, Huang G (2008) Modeling of state of vegetation and soil erosion over large areas. Int J Sediment Res 23(3):181–196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Yu X, Zhang X, Niu L (2009) Simulated multi-scale watershed runoff and sediment production based on GeoWEPP model. Int J Sediment Res 24(4):465–478CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Higher School of AgricultureZaghouanTunisia
  2. 2.Center for Water Research and TechnologiesSolimanTunisia

Personalised recommendations