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Concise overview of European soil erosion research and evaluation

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Soil loss by erosion is a major threat to European soil resources. It is linked to most other threats to soils and is estimated to incur substantial costs to society. To monitor and evaluate soil erosion comprehensively, measurements and modelled estimates of soil loss by erosion need to integrate water, wind and tillage erosion, as these are common throughout Europe. Tolerable rates of soil erosion (thresholds) in Europe can be set equal to estimated soil formation rates, that is, ~1 t ha−1 yr−1, but defining this threshold will require further research in the context of soil functions. There is a strong need for improving the knowledge base of current erosion rates, especially to develop and validate reliable erosion prediction models. This should include depositional environments (e.g. flood plains) where greater erosion rates than those on hill slopes may be tolerable, depending on the consequent effects on all relevant ecosystem goods and services provided by soil. Moreover, in considering erosion at catchment (watershed) level, the distance between erosion sites and areas of deposition should be taken into account.
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Keywords: Erosion by water; soil functioning; tolerable rates; wind and tillage

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Environment and Planning & CESAM,University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal 2: National Soil Resources Institute, Department of Environmental Science and Technology,Cranfield University, Cranfield, UK 3: Murray-Darling Basin Authority, Canberra, Australia 4: Department of Biology & CESAM,University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal

Publication date: 2012-11-01

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