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Title: Effects of Slope Gradient on Runoff and Sediment Yield on Machine-Induced Compacted Soil in Temperate Forests
Authors: Jourgholami, Meghdad
Karami, Sara
Tavankar, Farzam
Lo Monaco, Angela 
Picchio, Rodolfo 
Journal: FORESTS 
Issue Date: 2021
There has been a severely negative impact on soil water resources in temperate forests caused by the introduction of the type of heavy machinery in the forestry sector used for forest harvesting operations. These soil disturbances increase the raindrop impact on bare mineral soil, decrease infiltration rate, detach soil particles, and enhance surface flow. According to several studies, the role of slope gradient influence on runoff and soil loss continues to be an issue, and therefore more study is needed in both laboratory simulations and field experiments. It is important to define and understand what the impacts of slope gradient in harvesting practices are, so as to develop guidelines for forest managers. More knowledge on the key factors that cause surface runoff and soil loss is important in order to limit any negative results from timber harvesting operations performed on hilly terrains in mountainous forests. A field setting using a runoff plot 2 m2 in size was installed to individualize the effects of different levels of slope gradient (i.e., 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, and 40%) on the surface runoff, runoff coefficient, and sediment yield on the skid trails under natural rainfall conditions. Runoff and sediment yield were measured with 46 rainfall events which occurred during the first year after machine traffic from 17 July 2015 to 11 July 2016 under natural conditions. According to Pearson correlation, runoff (r = 0.51), runoff coefficient (r = 0.55), and sediment yield (r = 0.51) were significantly correlated with slope gradient. Results show that runoff increased from 2.45 to 6.43 mm as slope gradient increased from 5 to 25%, reaching to the critical point of 25% for slope. Also, further increasing the slope gradient from 25 to 40% led to a gradual decrease of the runoff from 6.43 to 4.62 mm. Runoff coefficient was significantly higher under the plot with a slope gradient of 25% by 0.265, whereas runoff coefficient was lowest under the plot with a slope gradient of 5%. Results show that sediment yield increased by increasing the slope gradient of plot ranging 5% to 30%, reaching to the critical point of 30%, and then decreased as the slope gradient increased from 35% to 40%. Runoff plot with a slope gradient of 30% (4.08 g m−2 ) ≈ plot length of 25% (3.91 g m−2 ) had a significantly higher sediment yield, whereas sediment yield was lowest under the plot with a slope gradient of 5% and 10%. A regression analysis of rainfall and runoff showed that runoff responses to rainfall for plots with different slope gradients were linearly and significantly increased. According to the current results, log skidding operations should be planned in the skid trails with a slope gradient lower than the 25 to 30% to suppress the negative effect of skidding operations on runoff and sediment yield.
ISSN: 1999-4907
DOI: 10.3390/f12010049
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