Adaptation and application of the erosion potential method for tropical soils1

ABSTRACT The water erosion process has a considerable negative effect on tropical soils, causes soil losses from arable land and reduces the capacity to support surrounding ecosystems. Estimating soil losses caused by water erosion is fundamental for evaluating the impacts of various production systems. Therefore, improving soil loss estimates via the adaptation of models for different edaphoclimatic environments is necessary for estimating local geographic and climatic differences. This study aimed to adapt, apply and evaluate the potentialities of the Potential Erosion Method for Latosols of the Hydrographic Subbasin of Caçús Stream, southern Minas Gerais State. Geological, topographic, pedological, climatic and land use and occupation data were processed via Geographic Information Systems and compared with those obtained by the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation. The erosion intensity coefficient, Z, was 0.28, indicating weak erosion intensity, and the estimated average soil losses were 31 Mg ha-1 year-1 by the Potential Erosion Method and 36 Mg ha-1 year-1 by the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation, which were both above the soil loss tolerance. The model results and comparisons indicated that the Potential Erosion Method has excellent performance and can be applied to estimate sediment production via water erosion in tropical soils.