Nutrient dynamics - wind and water erosion at the village scale in the Sahel

S.M. Visser, G. Sterk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


The loss of nutrients by wind erosion is generally attributed to losses by suspension, since suspension selectively removes the finest particles. However, because the main mass of sediment is moved by saltation during an event, the main mass of nutrients is also moved by saltation. Nutrient losses from one field during one wind erosion event can be as high as 73 per cent of the N and 100 per cent of the P needs for crop production. Vegetated areas have a higher dust deposition because of the filtering effect of the vegetation and the reduction of drag forces causing a higher deposition. This refutes the general assumption that deposition of suspended dust is homogeneous for a larger area. In the Sahel, two types of dust can be distinguished, the Harmattan dust is richer in nutrients and regarded as a real input of nutrients. The convectional storm dust has a nutrient content comparable with the nutrient content of the dust fraction of the topsoil and can't be regarded as input of nutrients. From research on nutrient losses by water erosion at the plot scale, it is concluded that nutrient erosion by water can cause serious losses of nutrients. But at the village scale, the losses are considerably smaller than at the plot scale. Measurement and subsequent nutrient budget analyses around the village Dangadé in Burkina Faso indicated that this area is especially vulnerable for wind erosion by saltation transport. This demonstrates that in the Sahelian environment, the effect of wind erosion at the village scale can't be ignored.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)578-588
JournalLand Degradation and Development
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • west-africa
  • soil
  • transport
  • dust
  • productivity
  • environment
  • sediment
  • impact
  • niger
  • land

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