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Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität zu Bonn (2010)

Modeling soil erosion and reservoir sedimentation at hillslope and catchment scale in semi-arid Burkina Faso

Schmengler, Almut C.

Titre : Modeling soil erosion and reservoir sedimentation at hillslope and catchment scale in semi-arid Burkina Faso

Auteur : Schmengler, Almut C.

Université de soutenance : Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität zu Bonn

Grade : Doktor der Agrarwissenschaften (Dr. agr.) 2010

Soil erosion is a major factor of land degradation in Sub-Saharan Africa. The loss of nutrient-rich topsoil from hillslopes causes severe agricultural problems for an extremely vulnerable agricultural society that depends on soil quality as a fundamental base for its livelihood. The removal of soil in source areas leads to sediment accumulation in sink areas such as dammed reservoirs. Especially the siltation of small reservoirs is seen as a serious environmental threat in Burkina Faso, where more than a thousand dams have been built to store unevenly distributed rainwater for the dry season. These dams are in danger of losing their function as essential water reservoirs for domestic use, irrigation and stock watering in the near future. This study presents an integrative, scale-dependent approach to assess on-site and off-site impacts of soil erosion by quantifying the magnitude and intensity of soil loss/deposition at hillslope and catchment scales and by considering the spatial dimension of these processes in a complex landscape system in southwestern Burkina Faso.
At the hillslope scale, the spatial variability of soils is analyzed by soil profile investigations along a catena and subsequently considered in soil erosion simulations by the physically-based WEPP model. WEPP model predictions indicate that although average soil loss rates simulated for the entire hillslope are comparatively low, they can be forty times higher at particular hillslope positions. These spatial differences, even in the relatively flat terrain of Burkina Faso, are also confirmed by Cs-137 measurements with averaged soil loss rates of less than 5 t/ha/yr and maximum erosion rates of more than 50 t/ha/yr in erosion hotspots. The identification of such hazard zones can be used to target site-specific land management options. WEPP model simulations show that the application of stone lines, minimum tillage, contour farming and residue management could reduce soil loss by up to 95 %, 70 %, 55 % and 45 % at these erosion-prone hillslope positions.
At the catchment scale, sedimentation rates of three reservoirs are analyzed by bathymetric surveys, sediment core sampling and sediment yield calculations using the soil erosion and sediment delivery model WaTEM/SEDEM. For the model, a digital elevation models is generated and land-cover maps are derived from remote sensing images. A comparison between the initial and actual reservoir bed morphology shows that the reservoirs have lost approximately 10-15 % of their original storage capacity and more than 60 % of their inactive storage volume in the last 15 to 20 years. During that period, a sedimentation layer of 0.3 m to 0.5 m thickness has accumulated on the reservoir bed. This was verified by stratigraphical changes and downcore variations in sediment properties and Cs-137 concentrations. Predictions by WaTEM/SEDEM show similar magnitudes of siltation with specific sediment yield rates of 0.5 t/ha/yr to 3.4 t/ha/yr.
These results indicate that the half-life of the dams might be reached in about 25 years assuming constant siltation rates under current conditions. In order to identify the sediment source areas and the potential soil-erosion risk zones leading to these high siltation rates, a spatially-explicit soil erosion and deposition hazard maps generated by WaTEM/SEDEM can be used. These hazard maps present a powerful tool to support policy makers in their decisions on which landscapes are primarily at risk and where action plans for sustainable soil and water conservation should be implemented.

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Page publiée le 8 novembre 2011, mise à jour le 13 février 2018