National Soil Erosion Research Laboratory
Looks Forward--and Back By
Erosion prediction technology is moving ahead as rapidly as
computer technology. This rapid rate of change stood out recently as the
Agricultural Research Service's
National Soil Erosion
Research Laboratory in West Lafayette, Ind., celebrated the 38th birthday
of the first nationwide soil erosion-prediction equation. At about the same
time, the laboratory released its latest update of a new erosion-prediction
mapping interface software called GeoWEPP.
The software links the lab's newest generation
erosion-prediction model, WEPP (Water Erosion Prediction Project), to the
latest computer tools for mapping landscapes. GeoWEPP can download and use
digital elevation data that is publicly available over the Internet,
automatically delineate watershed characteristics, run WEPP model simulations
and spatially display the results.
GeoWEPP was developed by ARS, Purdue University at West Lafayette and the
University at Buffalo, The State
University of New York. ARS agricultural engineer Dennis Flanagan, at West
Lafayette, and colleagues are developing Web-based approaches that will be
easier to use and will not require expensive mapping software.
WEPP software is sophisticated, state-of-the-art technology that
mimics water and erosion processes on crop-, range- and forest lands across
small watersheds. WEPP is meant to replace earlier erosion-prediction
technologies such as the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE), first published
by ARS scientists at West Lafayette in 1965. In 1995, a nationwide team of ARS
scientists first publicly released WEPP in cooperation with the
U.S. Department of Agriculture's
Natural Resources Conservation Service
and Forest Service, and the
U.S. Department of the Interior's
Bureau of Land Management.
WEPP software is updated about once a year. Recent additions
include a stand-alone Windows interface and a prototype Web-based interface.
WEPP software developed by ARS is available via the National Soil Erosion
Research Laboratory's web page at:
Forest Service WEPP interfaces are available on the World Wide