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Spatial Variability of Soil Moisture in Newly Implemented Agricultural Bench Terraces in the Ethiopian Plateau

  • oliveira, almeida
Publication Date
Oct 14, 2019
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In arid areas prone to desertification and soil erosion, the effectiveness of radical bench terracing in reducing drought risk is dependent on its correct implementation. However, the relationship between proper terracing implementation and the landscape capacity of holding soil moisture is still not understood. Moreover, spatial patterns of Soil Water Content (SWC) within the same terraced hillslope are weakly studied. The present paper analyses SWC variations in four newly implemented terraced sites in Tigray Region, Ethiopia. In all sites, terraced areas show SWC significantly higher than non-terraced ones, with the lower part of the terraced hillslope more humid than the others. A Multiple Linear Regression (MLR) analysis highlighted significant dependency of SWC from the date of analysis, the position in the terraced slope, and its significant positive correlation with the percent of Water Stable Aggregates (WSA) analyzed at the study sites. Since high soil disturbance induces low soil aggregates stability, this result shows how low soil disturbance can significantly increase SWC of radical terraces. Overall, the results of the present paper testify the good performances of bench terraces in Northern Ethiopia in terms of soil water conservation, and can represent a benchmark study informing future terracing implementation in some arid and semi-arid agricultural areas of the world.

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