Effect of cattle treading on interrill erosion from hill pasture: Modelling concepts and analysis of rainfall simulator data

A. H. Elliott, Y. Q. Tian, J. C. Rutherford, W. T. Carlson

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31 Scopus citations


Damage to pasture as a result of intensive grazing and treading by cattle increases the erosion of sediment and associated nutrients. In this study we present a model for the effect of treading damage on interrill erosion. The model formulation is based on the interrill erosion components of conventional process-based erosion models, with some modifications. The model was developed using data from small rainfall simulator plots (0.5 m2) on hill-country pasture in New Zealand with varying amounts of treading damage. Treading increased the amount of bare ground, and this resulted in increased concentrations of sediment in runoff. Concentration was found to increase linearly with the amount of bare ground. Treading resulted in increased runoff, which had some effect on sediment concentration for the high runoff rates in the experiments, but would have a negligible effect on concentration for typical natural runoff rates. However, the increased runoff results in greater sediment loads because a larger volume of sediment-laden runoff is produced. The increase in runoff was modelled through a reduction factor for the hydraulic conductivity which varied linearly with the fraction of damaged ground. For 100% damaged ground the hydraulic conductivity was approximately halved. The recovery of bare ground and damaged ground over time after treading was also assessed. Bare ground resulting from treading typically halved after 2 months, while damage took longer to recover. Such treading-related effects are superimposed on seasonal variations in erodibility, bare ground, and infiltration capacity. Based on the results of the study, some measures to reduce treading-related erosion are suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)963-976
Number of pages14
JournalAustralian Journal of Soil Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2002


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