Assessing soil erosion risk using RUSLE through a GIS open source desktop and web application
- 662 Downloads
Soil erosion is a serious environmental problem. An estimation of the expected soil loss by water-caused erosion can be calculated considering the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE). Geographical Information Systems (GIS) provide different tools to create categorical maps of soil erosion risk which help to study the risk assessment of soil loss. The objective of this study was to develop a GIS open source application (in QGIS), using the RUSLE methodology for estimating erosion rate at the watershed scale (desktop application) and provide the same application via web access (web application). The applications developed allow one to generate all the maps necessary to evaluate the soil erosion risk. Several libraries and algorithms from SEXTANTE were used to develop these applications. These applications were tested in Montalegre municipality (Portugal). The maps involved in RUSLE method—soil erosivity factor, soil erodibility factor, topographic factor, cover management factor, and support practices—were created. The estimated mean value of the soil loss obtained was 220 ton km−2 year−1 ranged from 0.27 to 1283 ton km−2 year−1. The results indicated that most of the study area (80 %) is characterized by very low soil erosion level (<321 ton km−2 year−1) and in 4 % of the studied area the soil erosion was higher than 962 ton km−2 year−1. It was also concluded that areas with high slope values and bare soil are related with high level of erosion and the higher the P and C values, the higher the soil erosion percentage. The RUSLE web and the desktop application are freely available.
KeywordsRUSLE Soil erosion Open source software QGIS Web
The authors would like to thank DGT (Direção Geral do Território) for the data provided, Professor João Pedro Pedroso for the help provided in this work, and professional English reviewer Sofia de Melo Araújo.
- Blanco-Canqui, H., & Rattan, L. (2008). “Soil and water conservation”. Principles of soil conservation and management (pp. 54–80). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
- Bonham-Carter, G. F. (1994). Geographic information systems for geoscientists, modelling with GIS. Computer Method in Geosciences, 13, 152–153.Google Scholar
- dgTerritório (2015). Direção-Geral do Território. http://www.dgterritorio.pt/cartografia_e_geodesia/cartografia/cartografia_tematica/carta_de_ocupacao_do_solo__cos_/cos__2007/. Accessed Feb 2015.
- Django (2015). Django the web framework for perfectionists with deadlines. https://www.djangoproject.com/. Accessed Feb 2015.
- Duarte, L, & Teodoro, AC (2015). An easy, accurate and efficient procedure to create Forest Fire Risk Maps using Modeler (SEXTANTE plugin). Journal of Forestry Research (in press).Google Scholar
- FAO-Unesco-Isric. (1988). Soil Map of the World, revised legend. World Soil Resources Report no 60. Rome: FAO.Google Scholar
- Flanagan, D. C., & Nearing, M. A. (1995). USDA-water erosion prediction project: hillslope and watershed model documentation. NSERL report no 10. West Lafayette: USDA-ARS National Soil Erosion Research Laboratory.Google Scholar
- GDAL (2013). Geospatial Data Abstraction Library. http://www.gdal.org/. Accessed Feb 2015.
- GRASS GIS (2013). The world’s leading free GIS software. http://grass.osgeo.org/. Accessed Feb 2015.
- Knijff, V., Jones, R. J., & Montanarella, L. (2000). Soil erosion risk assessment in Europe. Brussels: European Soil Bureau, Space Applications Institute, European Commission, European Communities.Google Scholar
- Lar, R. (1994). Soil erosion research method (2nd ed., p. 352). Ankeny: Soil and water conservation Society.Google Scholar
- Mitasova, H., Hofierka, J., Zlocha, M., & Iverson, L. R. (1996). Modelling topographic potential for erosion and deposition using GIS. International Journal of Information Systems, 10, 629–641.Google Scholar
- Morgan, R. P. C., Quinton, J. N., Smith, R. E., Govers, G., Poesen, J. W. A., Auerswald, K., Chisci, G., Torri, D., & Styczen, M. E. (1998). The European Soil Erosion Model (EUROSEM): a dynamic approach for predicting sediment transport from fields and small catchments. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 23, 527–544.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Nearing, M. A., Jetten, V., Baffaut, C., Cerdan, O., Couturier, A., Hernandez, M., Le Bissonnais, Y., Nichols, M. H., Nunes, J. P., Renschler, C. S., Souchère, V., & van Oost, K. (2005). Modeling response of soil erosion and runoff to changes in precipitation and cover. Catena, 61, 131–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Numpy API (2013). Numpy Reference. http://docs.scipy.org/doc/numpy/reference/. Accessed Feb 2015.
- Olaya, V. (2004). A gentle introduction to SAGA GIS, Edition 1.1. Rev. December 9.Google Scholar
- Pimenta, M. T. (1998). Directrizes para a aplicação da equação universal de perda dos solos em SIG, Factor de Cultura C e Factor de Erodibilidade do Solo K. Lisbon: INAG/DSRH (Sistema Nacional de Informação dos Recursos Hídricos).Google Scholar
- PyQt4 API (2013). PyQt class reference. http://pyqt.sourceforge.net/Docs/PyQt4/classes.html. Accessed Feb 2015.
- Python (2013). Python programming language. http://python.org/. Accessed Feb 2015.
- QGIS (2013). QGIS Project. http://www.qgis.org/. Accessed Feb 2015.
- QGIS API (2013). QGIS API Documentation. http://www.qgis.org/api/. Accessed Feb 2015.
- Rejani, R., Rao, K. V., Osman, M., Srinivasa Rao, C., Reddy, S., Chary, G. R., Pushpanjali, & Samuel, J. (2016). Spatial and temporal estimation of soil loss for the sustainable management of a wet semi-arid watershed cluster. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 188(3), 143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Renard, K. G., Foster, G. R., Weesies, G. A., McCool, D. K., & Yoder, D. C. (1997). Predicting Soil erosion by water: a guide to conservation planning with the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) (Vol. 703, pp. 1–251). Washington: Agriculture Handbook, US Department of Agriculture.Google Scholar
- SAGA (2013). System for automated geoscientific analyses. http://www.saga-gis.org/. Accessed Feb 2015.
- SNIAmb (2015). Sistema Nacional de Informação de Ambiente. http://sniamb.apambiente.pt/Home/Default.htm. Accessed Feb 2015.
- Stallman, P (2007). Why ‘Open Source’ misses the point of free software. GNU Operating System. http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/open-sourcemisses-the-point.html. Accessed Feb 2015.
- Wischmeier, W. H., & Smith, D. D. (1978). Predicting rainfall erosion losses: a guide to conservation planning with Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE). Washington: Agriculture Handbook, Department of Agriculture.Google Scholar
- Wischmeier, W. H., Johnson, C. B., & Cross, B. V. (1971). A soil erodibility nomograph for farmland and construction sites. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, 26, 189–193.Google Scholar
- Wordofa, G. (2011). Soil erosion modeling using GIS and RUSLE on the Eurajoki watershed Finland. Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Degree Program in Environmental Engineering, Bachelor’s Thesis.Google Scholar