BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Soil erosion is considered one of the major indicators of soil degradation in our environment. Extensive soil erosion process leads to erosion of nutrients in the topsoil and decreases in fertility and hence productivity. Moreover, creeping erosion leads to landslides in the hilly regions of the study area that affects the socio-economics of the inhabitants. The current study focuses on the estimation of soil erosion rate for the year 2011 to 2019 and projection for the years 2021, 2023 and 2025.
METHODS: In this study, the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation is used for estimation of soil erosion in the study area for the year 2011 to 2019. Using Artificial Neural Network-based Cellular Automata simulation, the Land Use Land Cover is projected for the future years 2021, 2023 and 2025. Using the projected layer as one of the spatial variables and applying the same model, Soil Erosion based on Revised Universal soil loss equation is projected for a corresponding years.
FINDINGS: For both cases of projection, simulated layers of 2019 (land use land cover and soil erosion) are correlated with the estimated layer of 2019 using actual variables and validated. The agreement and accuracy of the model used in the case land use are 0.92 and 96.21% for the year 2019. The coefficient of determination of the model for both simulations is also observed to be 0.875 and 0.838. The simulated future soil erosion rate ranges from minimum of 0 t/ha/y to maximum of 524.271 t/ha/y, 1160.212 t/ha/y and 783.135 t/ha/y in the year 2021, 2023 and 2025, respectively.
CONCLUSION: The study has emphasized the use of artificial neural network-based Cellular automata model for simulation of land use and land cover and subsequently estimation of soil erosion rate. With the simulation of future soil erosion rate, the study describes the trend in the erosion rate from past to future, passing through present scenario. With the scarcity of data, the methodology is found to be accurate and reliable for the region under study.
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- An increasing trend is observed in ‘No Erosion’; ‘Slight Erosion’ and ‘Moderate Erosion’ class and the decreasing trend is observed in ’High Erosion’ and ‘Intense Erosion’ class;
- The Northern and South-Eastern region of the basin is prone to soil erosion due to deforestation activity such as jhum cultivation in the hilly region;
- Future soil erosion rate is likely to show a decrement as the policymakers and environmental organization starts to implements various afforestation and forest conservation schemes, which is a positive sign for the region;
- Conservative measures and structures such as Bunding, Bench terracing, Contour farming, etc are also implemented for overcoming the loss in soil quality;
- It seems that there is a good potential for developing soil quality and as a result, it can improve the socio-economic situation of the society.