1 Department of Watershed Management Engineering, Faculty of Natural Resources, Yazd University, Yazd, Iran

2 Faculty of Natural Resources and Environment, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran


Erosion plots were selected for characterizing the effects of main natural factors on runoff and soil loss in a semi-arid region. These erosion plots with an area of 40 m2 are located in the Kakhk experimental watershed in Gonabad County of Khorasan-e Razave Province in the north-eastern Iran. Data acquired from 2008 to 2015 include slope, aspect, soil texture and land covers (canopy and litter) factors that were selected as main natural factors and it was tried to determine the effects of these factors on runoff and soil loss amount. In the next stage, it was focused on evaluation of the effects of land covers on runoff generation and soil loss in more details. For this purpose, in each class of the mentioned factors, the relationship between land covers and runoff and soil loss was analysed. The maximum of runoff and soil loss were occurred at E site with the amount of 15.6 mm and 140 g/m2 respectively. Results showed that soil loss and runoff have decreased where the amounts of land covers have increased, and the line gradient is steeper for soil loss reduction than runoff generation. The result especially characterized the role of land covers on soil loss. Based on these results land covers have a significant effect on soil loss but this effect is mostly highlighted in the highest and lowest conditions of erosion potential, rather than the medium erosion potential condition. Furthermore, in each plot and event, a dominant factor determines the quantity of the effect of land cover on runoff and soil loss.

Graphical Abstract

Effect of natural land covers on runoff and soil loss at the hill slope scale


  • Recognition the influence of the slope, aspect, land covers, soil texture factors on runoff generation and soil loss at hill-slope scale
  • Focus on the effect of land covers (canopy and litter) on runoff generation and soil loss
  • Soil loss and runoff have decreased with increase in amount of land covers
  • The result especially characterized the role of land covers on soil loss
  • Effects of land covers are characterized in the highest and lowest conditions of erosion potential
  • A dominant factor determines the role of land cover on runoff and soil loss


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