Soil Erosion Modeling: It’s Getting Better All the Time

About 50 years ago, scientists at the USDA devised the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE), a formula farmers could use to estimate losses from soil erosion. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists will soon release a version that integrates models generated by cutting-edge computer technology, an updated soils database, and new findings about erosion processes.

Every conservation plan written by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has been based on soil-erosion calculations derived from USLE or its successors, the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) and version 2 (RUSLE2). Now research leader Seth Dabney, who works at the ARS Watershed Physical Processes Research Unit in Oxford, Miss., is putting the finishing touches on an update of RUSLE2, which uses more intricate combinations of observation- and process-based science to produce soil erosion estimates.

More information about RUSLE2 can be found here.

ARS is USDA’s chief intramural scientific research agency, and this work supports the USDA priority of promoting international food security.

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