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# USLE & Other Models

NREM 461
Dr. Greg Bruland

## I Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE)

I.
A. In math terms Erosion = [(Erositivity)(Erodibility)]
[(
y)(
y)]
EROSIVITY
RAINFALL
ENERGY

ERODIBILITY
PHYSICAL
CHARACTERISTICS

MANAGEMENT

CROP
MGMT

LAND
MGMT

B. USLE developed
p by
y scientists at ARS,, SCS,, Purdue
Univ. under leadership of Walter Wishmeier
1 1st took form in
1.
2. Equation published by Wishmeier & Smith in
3. Developed to predict long-term average annual soil
loss from
erosion on uniform cultivated
fields in eastern U.S.
How universal is it?
Dr. W.
Wischmeier
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USLE Term

English Units

A: avg. annual
soil loss
R rainfall
R:
i f ll
erosivity

tons/acre-year

K: soil erodibility
y

## tons soil/100 ft tons rainfall

range: 0.01-0.7

Metric Units
Mg/hectare-year

100s off ft
100
ft-tons
t
rainfall/ac-yr
i f ll/
(MJ mm)/(ha
)/(h h yr))
range: 0-2000
range: 0-700
( g ha h)/(ha
(Mg
) ( MJ mm))
range: 0.001-0.09

## LS: slope length & dimensionless

gradient factor
range:

dimensionless
range:

C: cover-mgmt
factor

dimensionless
range:
g

dimensionless
range:
g

P: supportingpractice factor

dimensionless
range:

dimensionless
range:
4

Components
p
of USLE
Rainfall Erosivity Factor (R)
A = R x K x LS x C x P
R estimated from maximum 30 minute rainstorm
intensity values displayed on map in Troeh pg. 140

## Soil Erodibility Factor (K)

Rate of soil loss on a standard plot 72
72.6
6 ft
(22 m) long with 9% slope
A = R x K x LS x C x P

## K factors tabulated for

soilil series
i iin C
County
t
Soil Surveys

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Slope Length
g & Steepness
Factor (LS)
Ratio
R
ti off soilil lloss per unitit area off plot
l t with
ith
slope X, compared to what would be lost
f
from
a fallow
f ll
72
72.6-ft-long
6 ft l
plot
l t with
ith 9%
slope (can be <1 or >1)
A = R x K x LS x C x P

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## LS can be determined from lookup tables or from the

empirical equation:

## LS = (x/22.13)n (0.065 + 0.045s + 0.0065s2)

Where x =
s=
n = empirical parameter that should be varied
based on slope steepness

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Cover-Management
Cover
Management Factor (C)
Ratio of soil loss under specific
cover conditions compared to fallow
A = R x K x LS x C x P

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Supporting-Practice
Supporting
Practice (P) Factor
The fractional amount of erosion that
occurs when special practices, i.e.
contour cultivation
cultivation, contour strip cropping
cropping,
& terracing are used compared to erosion
that would occur w/o them
A = R x K x LS x C x P

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## 4. Notes about USLE

a. USLE is an empirical equation based on
measurements
easu e e ts rather
at e tthan
a ttheory
eo y
b. Designed for Eastern U.S. needs to be
reparameterized
c. Provides annual estimates-

d. Interdependence
p
among
g variables & nonlinear
relationships

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## Example USLE Calculations

With conventional tillage:
A= 170 x 0.26 x 1.62 x 0.20 x 1.0 = 14.3 t/a-y
y
With contour cultivation:
A= 170 x 0.26 x 1.62 x 0.20 x 0.61 = 8.7 t/a-y
With conservation tillage & contouring:
A = 170 x 0.26 x 1.62 x 0.11 x 0.61 = 4.8 t/a-y
With conventional tillage & terracing:
A = 170 x 0.26
0 26 x 0.60
0 60 x 0.20
0 20 x 1.0
1 0 = 5.3
5 3 t/a-y
t/a y
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## C. MUSLE (Modified USLE 1978)

1. R: expanded to cover western U.S. including HI (20450), but not AK
2. K: erodibility nomograph developed based on clay, silt,
sand OM,
sand,
OM structure,
structure & permeability
3. LS: adapted to handle multi-segmented slopes
4. C: expanded to 6 crop stage periods, C values provided
for
5. P: not changed for contour cult, & contour strip,
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(
(Troeh
et
al. 2004)

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## D. RUSLE (Revised USLE 1992)

1. Improved mapping of R values in lower 48 &
Hawaii
2. K & C allowed to vary seasonally by climatic
data
3. C becomes a continuous function w/ 5 subfactors
a. Prior land use
b. Surface cover
p canopy
py
c. Crop
d. Surface roughness
e. Soil moisture
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## 4. Data gathered to develop local databases for C

factors
5 P factor includes data from
5.

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II Other
II.
Oth erosion
i models
d l
A Empirical Models
A.
1. RUSLE2: computerized extension of RUSLE
a. includes much more detailed information
about slope, veg, residues, P factors, etc.
b. used to compare erosion under

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## 2. AGNPS: Agricultural Nonpoint Source

Pollution Model
a. developed by USDA ARS to estimate
runoff
ff water
t quality
lit from
f
AG watersheds
t h d
b. cell-based, distributed-parameter,
event-driven model
c requires >
c.

input parameters

d.

## e. integrated with Arcview GIS interface &

includes RUSLE subroutines
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## 3. EPIC: Erosion Productivity Impact Calculator

a. designed to assess effect of erosion on
p
productivity
y
b. computes erosion from a single point on the
landscape
c.

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B. Process-based models
1. WEPP: Water Erosion Prediction Project
a. process-based,
b
d di
distributed
t ib t d parameter,
t
continuous simulation, erosion prediction model
b. 1st model for erosion prediction in the
U.S. not based on USLE
c. Based on equation:

## Qs = sediment load per unit width per unit time

x = distance downslope
Di = delivery rate of particles detached by interrill erosion
Df = rate of detachment/deposition by rill flow
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Di = KiI2CeGe(Rs/w)
Di = interrill erosion rate
Ki = interrill erodibility
I=
Ce = effect of plant canopy
Ge = effect of ground cover
Rs = spacing of rills
w = width of rills

Ce = 1 Fe-0.34PH
Fe = fraction of soil protected by canopy
PH =

Ge = e-2.5gi
gi = fraction of interrill surface covered by vegetation or residue

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Df = Dc(1-Qs/Tc)
Df = rate of detachment of soil particles by rill flow
Dc = detachment capacity
Qs = sediment load in the flow
Tc = sediment load at transport capacity

Dc = Kr( - c)
Kr =
= flow sheer stress acting on soil
c = critical flow sheer stress for detachment to occur

Tc = kt3/2
kt = is a transport coefficient
= hydraulic shear acting on the soil

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## d. When tested for 4,000 storm events across

9 experimental
i
t l stations
t ti
iin th
the U.S.,
U S WEPP
model gave predictions of mean annual soil
loss at the plot scale of similar accuracyy to
those of USLE & RUSLE (Zhang et al. 1996)
e Web version:
e.
http://milford.nserl.purdue.edu/wepp/weppV1.html

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## 2. European Soil Erosion Model (EUROSEM)

a. Funded by EU, developed by scientists in
late 80s & early 90s
b. Modular structured, process-based model that
incorporates
p
terms of erodibility,
y, roughness
g
that
change w/ time
c.

d.

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(Morgan
2005)
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