Estimates of soil losses by the erosion potential method in tropical latosols

ABSTRACT Water erosion is one of the main problems faced in coffee cultivation, as it promotes environmental degradation and crop yield decrease. Erosion estimates support the planning of conservation management practices and allowing determining the rates of soil losses. Thus, the objective of this paper was to estimate the soil loss by water erosion using the Erosion Potential Method in a sub-basin predominantly covered by coffee cultivation and then to compare the results with the Soil Loss Tolerance limits. The study area is the Coroado Stream Sub-basin, located at Alfenas Municipality, south of Minas Gerais, Brazil. The sub-basin presented an Erosion Coefficient of 0.272, indicating a predominance of low-intensity erosion. The total soil loss estimate was 1,772.01 Mg year-1 with an estimated average of 1.74 Mg ha-1 year-1. Soil Loss Tolerance limits range from 4.75 to 7.26 Mg ha-1 year-1 and, according to the Erosion Potential Method, only 1.0% of the sub-basin presented losses above the limits. The areas with the highest slopes and bare soil concentrated the highest losses rates and should be prioritized in the adoption of mitigation measures. The Erosion Potential Method estimated soil losses in tropical edaphoclimatic conditions in a fast, efficiently and at low cost, supporting the adoption of conservation management practices.