Restoring Land Degraded by Gully Erosion in the Tropics

Part of the Advances in Soil Science book series (SOIL, volume 17)


An eroded rill, on deepening and widening, becomes a gully. A gully is sufficiently deep that it would not be obliterated by normal tillage operations, whereas a rill is of lesser depth and would be smoothed by ordinary tillage. A gully is caused by a rapid expansion of the surface drainage system in an unstable landscape. SCSA (1982) defines a gully as “a channel or miniature valley cut by concentrated runoff but through which water commonly flows only during and immediately after heavy rains or during the melting of snow; it may be dendritic or branching or it may be linear, rather long, narrow, and of uniform width.” Gully erosion is geographical ly a widespread problem and is, therefore, known by many names in different regions (Table 1). Gully erosion has been the subject of intensive studies conducted by geologists, geographers, hydrologists, agricultural engineers, and soil scientists. The literature abounds with discussions of the causes and mechanisms of gully formation and the methods of its control. Readers are referred to detailed reviews elsewhere (Peterson, 1950; Antevs, 1952; Ireland et al., 1939; Schumm and Hadley, 1957; Riquier, 1958; Thompson, 1964; Seginer, 1966; Headge, 1967; Piest and Spomer, 1968; USDA-SCS, 1973; Patton, 1973; Cooke and Reeves, 1976). The objective of this chapter is to highlight the problem of gully erosion in the tropics, outline the principal causes of gully formation, describe techniques for assessment of gully erosion, and evaluate methods for the control of gully erosion.


Soil Erosion Gully Erosion Rill Erosion Gully Head Gully Density 
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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1992

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  • R. Lal

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