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Improved descriptions of herbaceous perennial growth and residue creation for RUSLE2

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Earlier versions of the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation, version 2 (RUSLE2) calculated vegetative residue production only during periods of canopy decline or in response to management operations. This resulted in underestimation of residue amounts and overestimation of soil erosion from pasture and hay lands. To solve this problem, new vegetation routines were implemented in RUSLE2. These modifications were designed to better reflect the amount of residue added by perennial vegetation during its growth and to make it is easier to model haying and grazing scenarios. The new routines were based on the assumption that all unharvested aboveground biomass growth will die after its life span is reached, and this biomass will be added to a standing residue pool. Trained specialists can define the characteristics of a vegetation assemblage in terms of total annual potential production under good management, monthly production percentages reflecting expected fertility and irrigation levels, average vegetation lifespan, maximum canopy height, cutting height for optimal yield, and the tendency of the vegetation to thicken at lower heights (form a sod) in response to repeated defoliations. Users will specify actual harvest management and an underlying model predicts plant growth responses in terms of the amount of harvested forage and the amount of above- and belowground residues returned to the soil. The USDA-NRCS is developing extensive databases so that the new version of RUSLE2 will allow erosion estimates to be a factor considered as part of forage and grazing planning.
Dabney, S.M. , Yoder, D.C.
Includes references
Agronomy journal 2012 May, v. 104, no. 3
American Society of Agronomy
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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