Soil erosion in sloping vineyards assessed by using botanical indicators and sediment collectors in the Ruwer-Mosel valley

J. Rodrigo Comino, A. Quiquerez, S. Follain, D. Raclot, Y. Le Bissonnais, J. Casalí, R. Giménez, Artemio Cerda Bolinches, S.D. Keesstra, E.C. Brevik, P. Pereira, J.M. Senciales, M. Seeger, J.D. Ruiz Sinoga, J.B. Ries

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61 Citations (Scopus)


Steep slopes, erodible soils, rill and ephemeral gullies, compaction due to wheel traffic and human trampling are common features in vineyards around the world and result in high soil erosion rates. However, little is known about seasonal and spatial variations of soil erosion rates due to factors such as the impact of the vine plantation, harvest, and tillage on the soil redistribution over the long-term temporal scale. The goal of this study is to assess long-term soil erosion rates and the impact of management on sediment and runoff yield by means of Gerlach troughs and a topographical approach based on botanic benchmarks in two paired vineyards with different ages (3 and 35 years) located on the hillslope of the Ruwer-Mosel Valley (Germany). We studied: i) soil profiles and properties at different hillslope locations and ii) soil redistribution and erosion by means of topsoil level maps applying botanic benchmarks using the Stock Unearthing Method (SUM), RUSLE (Revised Unviersal Soil Loss Equation) and Gerlach troughs. The SUM showed that the old vineyard’s erosion rates ranged from 3.3 to 3.8 Mg ha−1 yr−1, which was similar to the Gerlach trough measurements, and we demonstrated that the soil erosion rates depended on rainfall characteristics and human disturbances due to tillage, harvest trampling, and compaction by heavy machinery. Data from the SUM in the young vineyard showed 62.5 Mg ha−1 yr−1 of soil loss, which is a consequence of severe soil disturbance during the planting of the new vineyard. Finally, to prove the reliability data, RUSLE showed higher soil loss in the young vineyards (19.46 Mg ha−1 yr−1) than in the old ones (11.28 Mg ha−1 yr−1).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-170
JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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