Die Bodenkultur - Journal for Land Management, Food and Environment

A.A.A. Montenegro, J.L.M.P. de Lima, J.R.C.B.O. Abrantes and T.E.M. Santos:

Impact of mulching on soil and water conservation in semiarid catchment: Simulated rainfall in the field and in the laboratory


Rainfall impact on runoff, erosion and soil moisture dynamics is affected by several factors, such as rainfall temporal patterns, soil physical properties, and soil cover characteristics. In semiarid areas, where bare soil conditions usually occur during the dry season, particularly at rainfed (non-irrigated) plots, high-intensity rainfall events might produce large soil loss rates and long-term land degradation. In such environments, understanding of relevant processes operating at the hillslope scale may provide insights into the hydrologic behaviour in a catchment. Therefore, the use of rainfall simulators at plot scales can allow performance evaluation of conservation techniques such as mulching to reduce runoff, soil losses, and soil moisture. This paper describes field and laboratory experiments using mulching as an alternative to protect soil and water under non uniform rainfall events, and also to buffer soil temperature variations. The aim of the study is to contribute towards a better understanding on how mulching impacts hydrological processes and may mitigate land degradation at semiarid regions.

Key words: Experimental plots, rainfall simulation, erosion control, soil moisture.