Soil-erosion and runoff prevention by plant covers in a mountainous area (se spain) : Implications for sustainable agriculture

Zuazo, V.H.D.; Martinez, J.R.Francia; Pleguezuelo, C.R.Rodriguez; Raya, A.M.; Rodriguez, B.C.

Environmentalist 26(4): 309-319


ISSN/ISBN: 0251-1088
DOI: 10.1007/s10669-006-0160-4
Accession: 013016346

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In the Mediterranean region the intensities and amounts of soil loss and runoff on sloping land are governed by rainfall pattern and vegetation cover. Over a two-year period (1998-1999), six wild species of aromatic and mellipherous plants (Thymus serpylloides subsp. Gadorensis, Thymus baeticus Boiss, Salvia lavandulifolia Vahl., Santolina rosmarinifolia L., Lavandula stoechas L. and Genista umbellata Poiret) were selected for erosion plots to determine their effectiveness in reducing water erosion on hillslopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountain (SE Spain). The erosion plots (including a bare-soil plot as control), located at 1,345 m in altitude, were 2 m(2) (2 m x 1 m) in area and had 13% incline. The lowest runoff and soil erosion rates, ranging from 9 to 26 mm yr(-1) and from 0.01 to 0.31 Mg ha(-1) yr(-1), respectively, over the entire study period, were measured under the Thymus serpylloides. Lavandula stoechas L. registered the highest rates among the plant covers tested, runoff ranging from 77 to 127 mm yr(-1) and erosion from 1.67 to 3.50 Mg ha(-1) yr(-1). In the bare-soil plot, runoff ranged from 154 to 210 mm yr(-1) and erosion from 4.45 to 7.82 Mg ha(-1) yr(-1). According to the results, the lowest-growing plant covers (Thymus serpylloides and Salvia lavandulifolia Vahl.) discouraged the soil erosion and runoff more effectively than did the taller and open medium-sized shrubs (Santolina rosmarinifolia L., Genista umbellata Poiret, Thymus baeticus Boiss and Lavandula stoechas L.). Monitoring allowed more direct linkage to be made between plant covers and the prevention of erosion, with implications for sustainable mountain agriculture and environmental protection.

Soil-erosion and runoff prevention by plant covers in a mountainous area (se spain): Implications for sustainable agriculture