Daily Erosion Project
Soil erosion is the movement of soil particles down and from sloping land, reducing soil productivity and degrading water quality. Soil erosion thins and can completely remove topsoil, the soil layer richest in organic matter and plant nutrient concentration. These lost nutrients must be replaced for crop production purposes, adding extra cost in addition to lost crop yield potential.
This website uses a model that estimates soil erosion and water runoff occurring on hill slopes in Iowa and surrounding states—the geographic regions covered include Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Kansas, Wisconsin, and portions of China. Estimates are based on hill slope conditions (e.g., topography, crop, precipitation) identified via remote sensing tools such as satellites. The DEP team posts daily estimates of average hill slope soil loss (and water runoff) occurring for each watershed in the coverage area on an interactive map. The site also provide erosion resources such as publications, materials, and handouts.
The site uses WEPP—an erosion prediction model useful in small (field-sized) watersheds that can simulate up to large fields, mimicking the natural processes important in soil erosion. It updates the soil and crop conditions that affect soil erosion daily. When rainfall occurs, the plant and soil characteristics are used to determine if surface runoff will occur; the program then calculates estimated erosion.