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Soil loss estimation in Herat province, Afghanistan

A139812 Mohammad Ehsan

a Soil erosion is one of the most important environmental problems of Afghanistan especially Herat province (fig. 1). A mixture of water and wind erosion modeling is seen as the only way of undertaking environmental auditing. Two models of water and wind erosion estimation that are best compatible and applicable in Herat province are presented. One is the water erosion model which is developed from early USLE model presented by Wischmeier et al. The other is wind erosion model uses empirical climate and dust storm index to predict dust emission rates. b

Fig. 1. (a) The blocked street and houses by eroded soil materials via wind erosion in IslamQala (west part of Herat), and (b) devastated street by stormy runoff in Nisan (east of Herat). .


Study area The study site, Herat, is located in northwestern Afghanistan (latitude 340 North, longitude 610 - 620 East) and occupies 4900 Km2 with a range of land uses, including settlement, shrubs, bushes, grasses, vineyard, mixed garden, vegetables, cereals, alfalfa and clover. Harirud (Hari River), the main irrigation water source of the watershed, follows from east to west through the middle of the Herat and irrigates the surrounding lands (fig. 2). The Herat winds start blowing from northeast to the southwest with great force in May 20th and continue to the Sep 20th. The average annual precipitation is 240mm, humidity is between 30% - 72% and the average annual temperature varies from -3oc to 37oc. The soils are calcareous and are high in available calcium and potassium. Nonetheless, the soil pH is high. However, the soil organic matter content is very low (table 1). Soil property measurement In field survey, soil samples have been taken from depth of 0-5 and 5-10 cm and sieved through the 2mm mesh then were analyzed for the physicochemical properties such as soil permeability, soil pH (by Glass Electrode), available phosphorous (Bray 2), soil particle size distribution, calcium carbonate content (Acetic Acid Dissolution Method), exchangeable cations (Na+, K+, Ca2+, Mg2+), TN, EC and organic carbon in the libratory. Compatible models of soil erosion The present study estimates soil erosion by 1rainfall and 2wind in Herat Province, Afghanistan. To estimate soil rain erosion, a revised model of the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) is applied (fig. 3). For wind erosion, the Et model is used to describe the influence of rainfall, evaporation, wind erosivity and soil moisture on wind erosion in the study site (fig. 4). Then, the results were illustrated on maps using Golden Surfer 9 Program (fig. 6).

= = P E index =

1 2

1 2

10 P 115 ( )9 3 T 10

Fig. 2. Study area, climate conditions and distribution of soil sampling sites in Herat, Afghanistan.

Fig. 3. Erosion= R1 x K2 x L3 x S4 x C5 x P6 factors affecting water erosion in USLE are: 1rainfall erosivity, 2soil erodibility, 3slope length & 4steepness, 5vegetation cover and 6conservation practices.

Fig. 4. Ewt and Ewd are indexes used to estimate the influence of climate on wind erosion in winter (OctMay) and summer (Jun-Sep) respectively. Where P-E is the precipitation-Evaporation Index; W is mean annual wind speed; P is monthly precipitation (in inches); and T is averaged monthly temperature (in F).


Soil Properties The results of soil analyses showed that soils had low available phosphorus and organic matter content but high pH values and CaCO3 content (table 1 and fig.5). Spatial distribution of Erosion-Factors Based on data derived from climatology stations, R-factors were low in southeastern and northwestern parts but increased in central and northern parts of the watershed which were attributed to increases in precipitation (fig.6). K-factor values were very low in compare with K-factor values estimated in Indonesia (0.06-0.39) due to availability of high levels of CaCO3 which has strong effects on aggregate stability. LS-Factor values ranged from 1 in flat areas in western points to 580 in the central points where are steep (shown in darker color). C-factor regarding vegetation types and density remarkably decreased the erosion rates in some areas. Erosion rates are high in eastern parts but diminishing in western areas where people protect plant growth to reduce dust storms (fig.6). Table 1 Descriptive statistics of soils physicochemical properties. "Qhoroqh" (plant growth protection) is one CCE % descriptive statistic OC % Available P (mg/kg) pH of the most effective agents on erosion control. 0.47 18.81 8.6 18.6 mean 0.00 0.30 7.9 0.9 minimum Poplar tree is an erosion-resistant crop and 1.73 100.4 9.8 82.4 maximum fast grown to cover the bare soil against 22.5 0.35 11.25 standard deviation 0.33 erosive rain and winds. it is very useful in two CCE: Calcium carbonate equivalent; P: phosphorus, OC: Organic Carbon. ways: first, it directly functions as wind barrier that control wind erosion in arable lands. pH Organic Carbon % CaCO3 % Second, it control soil erosion in forest, desert 0~10 10~20 7.5-8 0~0.05 and suburb via contributing vegetation cover. 20~30
30~40 40~50 80~90 8-8.5 8.5-9 9-9.5 9.5-10 0.05~0.1 0.1~0.5 0.5~1 1~1.8


Fig. 5. different values of soil properties

If leaves and twigs of the poplar trees can be the alternative fuelwood to native plant. people would keep the native trees, bushes and shrubs, which can reduce soil erosion.

Fig. 6. Spatial distribution of soil erosion rates (Mg ha-1 y-1) and its factors like rainfall erosivity (R), soil erodibility (K), slope length and steepness (LS), vegetation cover (V) and conservation practices (P) on the study area.