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Event-scale flow and sediment generation responses to agricultural land cover change in lowland UK catchments
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  • Veronica Escobar-Ruiz,
  • Hugh Smith,
  • Neil Macdonald,
  • Andres Peñuela
Veronica Escobar-Ruiz
University of Reading

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Hugh Smith
Landcare Research New Zealand
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Neil Macdonald
University of Liverpool
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Andres Peñuela
Universidad de Cordoba
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Agricultural land use can increase runoff and erosion leading to detrimental downstream impacts. This paper examines the impact of agricultural land cover change on runoff and sediment generation at event scales using a model-based approach. SHETRAN, a physically based, spatially distributed model, was applied in two southwest England catchments to represent: (a) changes in the land cover (cropland extent and spatial arrangement), (b) changes in crop type, and (c) use of riparian buffer strips. A total of 84 simulated events within a 4-year period were used to quantify flow and sediment generation impacts. We found past changes in land cover resulted in significant differences in sediment yield (p < 0.05). Linear regression showed an increase in flow and sediment yield proportional to increases in arable crop area (p < 0.001). The spatial arrangement of cropped fields and riparian buffer strips produced no significant differences in event flow or sediment yield (p > 0.05). However, buffer strip scenarios compared with the base run showed sediment load reductions in specific events, up to 20% and 15% for woodland and grass riparian buffers, respectively. When comparing crop types with and without the use of post-harvest cover crops, we observed non-significant differences (both Qv and Sy). However, large reductions in modelled sediment yields occurred for some events (e.g., up to 60% for winter cereals, 50% for maize and 74% for spring cereals). For these scenarios, examination of rainfall event magnitude emphasized the importance of ground cover in mitigating soil erosion for maize and spring cereals, but not for winter cereals. Our findings indicate that significant changes in sediment delivery at the event scale are associated with cropland extent and crop types, depending on rainfall magnitude, but not on the spatial arrangement of cropped fields or the use of riparian buffer strips.
04 Aug 2021Submitted to Hydrological Processes
05 Aug 2021Submission Checks Completed
05 Aug 2021Assigned to Editor
06 Aug 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
06 Sep 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
08 Sep 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Major
07 Nov 20211st Revision Received
07 Nov 2021Assigned to Editor
07 Nov 2021Submission Checks Completed
07 Nov 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
19 Dec 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
20 Dec 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
22 Dec 20212nd Revision Received
27 Dec 2021Submission Checks Completed
27 Dec 2021Assigned to Editor
06 Jan 2022Reviewer(s) Assigned
06 Jan 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
06 Jan 2022Editorial Decision: Accept