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RESEARCH ARTICLE

Digital mapping of soil erodibility for water erosion in New South Wales, Australia

Xihua Yang A C , Jonathan Gray A , Greg Chapman A , Qinggaozi Zhu B , Mitch Tulau A and Sally McInnes-Clarke A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage, PO Box A290, Sydney South, NSW 1232, Australia.

B School of Life Sciences, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: xihua.yang@environment.nsw.gov.au

Soil Research - https://doi.org/10.1071/SR17058
Submitted: 14 February 2017  Accepted: 31 July 2017   Published online: 13 October 2017

Abstract

Soil erodibility represents the soil’s response to rainfall and run-off erosivity and is related to soil properties such as organic matter content, texture, structure, permeability and aggregate stability. Soil erodibility is an important factor in soil erosion modelling, such as the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE), in which it is represented by the soil erodibility factor (K-factor). However, determination of soil erodibility at larger spatial scales is often problematic because of the lack of spatial data on soil properties and field measurements for model validation. Recently, a major national project has resulted in the release of digital soil maps (DSMs) for a wide range of key soil properties over the entire Australian continent at approximately 90-m spatial resolution. In the present study we used the DSMs and New South Wales (NSW) Soil and Land Information System to map and validate soil erodibility for soil depths up to 100 cm. We assessed eight empirical methods or existing maps on erodibility estimation and produced a harmonised high-resolution soil erodibility map for the entire state of NSW with improvements based on studies in NSW. The modelled erodibility values were compared with those from field measurements at soil plots for NSW soils and revealed good agreement. The erodibility map shows similar patterns as that of the parent material lithology classes, but no obvious trend with any single soil property. Most of the modelled erodibility values range from 0.02 to 0.07 t ha h ha–1 MJ–1 mm–1 with a mean (± s.d.) of 0.035 ± 0.007 t ha h ha–1 MJ–1 mm–1. The validated K-factor map was further used along with other RUSLE factors to assess soil loss across NSW for preventing and managing soil erosion.

Additional keywords: digital soil maps, geographic information system (GIS), hillslope erosion, Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE).


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