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Nebraska Soil Erosion Index


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We obtained statewide spatially explicit gridded soil survey data for Nebraska from the Soil Survey Geographic (SSURGO) database. The ‘chorizon,’ ‘chtexture,’ ‘chtexturegrp,’ ‘mapunit,’ and ‘mutext’ tables in the Gridded SSURGO database were joined together using the “mukey” attribute field in a geographic information system (GIS). The representative values for slope (rvslope) and slope length (rvslopelenusle), the susceptibility of the soil to water erosion (Kw), and the soil loss tolerance (t_fact) values were obtained from the set of joined tables and were included in the Water Erosion Index calculation. We acquired county-specific rainfall and runoff factor values (R) from the U.S. Department ofAgriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation [...]


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In the United States, anthropogenically accelerated soil erosion has consistently been an issue in regions that use traditional cropping practices. Consequently, in the last century various federal and state programs have been established to offer landowners incentives to reduce soil erosion by shifting lands with highly erodible soils out of production and into various soil conservation practices. Although we are more aware of the negative effects and mitigation of soil erosion in today’s agricultural practices, soil erosion continues to be an issue.In order to help pinpoint areas with potentially elevated wind and water erosion, various erodibility models have been developed (e.g., Universal Soil Loss Equation [USLE], Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation [RUSLE], Wind Erosion Equation [WEQ], etc.). Although the USLE was originally intended to assist soil conservationists in planning farming practices, today soil erosion indices are useful to professionals in a broad set ofdisciplines, including agricultural economists, wildlife biologists, and foresters. Ecologists and conservationists use soil erosion indices to strategically target land parcels for conservation or farming practices that reduce soil loss and increase wildlife habitat (e.g., establish prairie for grassland birds), while still meeting the requirements of the land manager or farmer. Moreover, since their inception, various soil indiceshave been implemented to estimate the regional and national impacts of anthropogenically accelerated soil erosion, and in developing public policy.To help pinpoint specific regions that contain highly erodible soils and are well suited for establishing conservation practices to reduce soil loss in Nebraska, U.S.A., the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture worked in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to construct a Wind and Water Erodibility Index using the Soil Survey Geographic (SSURGO) database. Our objectives were to produce statewide spatially explicit GeographicInformation System (GIS) layers indicating highly erodible soils to aid in conservation planning and design.



  • Great Plains Landscape Conservation Cooperative
  • LC MAP - Landscape Conservation Management and Analysis Portal



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