The impact of the farming, abandonment and agricultural intensification on loss of water and soil. the example of the northern slopes of the Serra Grossa, Eastern Spain

A. Cerdà, A. Giménez Morera, M. Burguet, V. Arcenegui, F. A. González Peñaloza, F. García-Orenes, P. Pereira

Abstract


Land abandonment throughout the twentieth century led to an intense landscape transformation in the mountain areas of the Iberian Peninsula. In some cases, and after 50 years of abandonment, agriculture returned with the development of commercial farms and the intensification of the agrarian activities. In the Easter Iberian Peninsula, following the abandonment of olive groves, vineyards and cereals during the 50’s, has been in the past two decades the expansion of intensive citrus production on sloping terrain. Geomorphological transects and simulated rainfall experiments have quantified the impact of traditional rainfed cultivation of the 50’s, abandonment, and the intensification of farming on the processes and landforms of erosion on the northern slopes of the Serra Grossa, south of the province of Valencia. It was found that the citrus groves have the highest number of rills and gullies. These erosive morphologies were not in the traditional crop tillage, and when they formed in the abandoned fields were soon controlled by the growth of vegetation. The abandonment of the crops reduced the soil losses, but the intensification of the agriculture with the citrus production has accelerated the soil erosion rates that exceed by several orders of magnitude (x4) the soil erosion rates measured during the abandonment and multiply by 17 the quantified traditional rainfed agriculture soil losses. Tillage of traditional rainfed orchards reduced runoff, but increased the concentration of sediments of the surface wash.

Keywords


Land abandonment; crop; intensification; citrus; erosion

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.18172/cig.1276

Copyright (c) 2013 A. Cerdà, A. Giménez Morera, M. Burguet, V. Arcenegui, F. A. González Peñaloza, F. García-Orenes, P. Pereira

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© Universidad de La Rioja, 2013

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EISSN 1697-9540