A comprehensive modeling framework to evaluate soil erosion by water and tillage

Sanghyun Lee, Maria L. Chu, Jorge A. Guzman, Alejandra Botero-Acosta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Soil erosion is significantly increased and accelerated by unsustainable agricultural activities, resulting in one of the major threats to soil health and water quality worldwide. Quantifying soil erosion under different conservation practices is important for watershed management and a framework that can capture the spatio-temporal dynamics of soil erosion by water is required. In this paper, a modeling framework that coupled physically based models, Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) and MIKE SHE/MIKE 11, was presented. Daily soil loss at a grid-scale resolution was determined using WEPP and the transport processes were simulated using a generic advection dispersion equation in MIKE SHE/MIKE 11 models. The framework facilitated the physical simulation of sediment production at the field scale and transport processes across the watershed. The coupled model was tested using an intensively managed agricultural watershed in Illinois. The impacts of no-till practice on both sediment production and sediment yield were evaluated using scenario-based simulations with different fractions of no-till and conventional tillage combinations. The results showed that if no-till were implemented for all fields throughout the watershed, 76% and 72% reductions in total soil loss and sediment yield, respectively, can be achieved. In addition, if no-till practice were implemented in the most vulnerable areas to sediment production across the watershed, a 40% no-till implementation can achieve almost the same reduction as 100% no-till implementation. Based on the simulation results, the impacts of no-till practice are more prominent if implemented where it is most needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111631
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021


  • Coupled model
  • No-till
  • Sediment transport
  • Soil erosion
  • Soil loss
  • Tillage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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