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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: A Portable Device to Measure Soil Erosion/Deposition in Quarter-Drains

Authors
item Kornecki, Ted
item Fouss, James
item Prior, Stephen

Submitted to: Soil Use and Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 19, 2008
Publication Date: December 1, 2008
Citation: Kornecki, T.S., Fouss, J.L., Prior, S.A. 2008. A portable device to measure soil erosion/deposition in quarter-drains. Soil Use and Management. 24:401-408.

Interpretive Summary: Accurate measurements of soil erosion must be made at multiple points in drainage ditches to fully understand the erosion process. Automatic samplers that are located at the end of plots can only assess total sediment loss from a whole plot area. However, to quantify changes to cross-sectional areas at specific points within a ditch system, additional measuring devices are required. Thus, to assess soil erosion or deposition along the length of a drainage ditch, a portable, inexpensive device was designed and tested under typical field conditions. Because of its simplicity, the meter can be fabricated and assembled in one day with a cost not exceeding $150 and only requires one person to install and use it. This device's low cost may make it an attractive method for erosion assessment in underdeveloped countries.

Technical Abstract: An inexpensive, portable and lightweight (9 kg) measuring device was designed and fabricated to precisely assess soil erosion or deposition along the length of small surface ditches (quarter-drains). This measuring device performed very well under typical weather and soil conditions. Since the meter was built from non-corrosive materials such as aluminum (pins, base, and frame) and stainless steel (bolts, nuts, washers and rulers with mm scale), no problems were reported in functioning of the tool during the entire season. The device was able to read depths up to 500 mm with a resolution of 2 mm. Occasional cleaning was required to remove soil particles and moisture from pins. This measuring system is ideal for cases where budget constrains exist. In particular, the system's low cost may make it an attractive tool for erosion assessment in underdeveloped countries. The meter was successfully operated by one person due to the locking feature of pins with respect to the meters' frame. Locking wing-nuts also allowed the user to read data after moving the meter from the benchmark location for more convenient readings from the millimeter rulers. This portable meter allowed for the study of changes in cross sectional area due to soil erosion or deposition in small surface ditches (quarter-drains) at specific locations within a ditch network. Monitoring these changes is important in terms of proper ditch management (sizing, cleaning), and improving effectiveness of residue management in minimizing runoff/sediment loss within the field.

Last Modified: 9/2/2014
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