Pravat Kumar Shit, Gouri Sankar Bhunia and Ramkrishna Maiti
The lateritic badland topography (Western part of West Bengal, India) is prone to severe erosion, caused by heavy rainfall events of short duration and high intensities. Five catchments were instrumented in order to study the rainfall– runoff process and soil management impact on runoff and/or sediment yield. In the five micro catchments (Rangamati, Medinipur), characterized by a homogeneity of surface geology, a data set of about 43 rainfall–runoff events covering the January 2012 to Sept, 2012 period was generated by field monitoring. Multiple regression analysis is done to define the role of rainfall volume vis-à-vis vegetation cover on sediment yield. The physical and chemical properties of soil were estimated at the initial and final stage of the gully development in the lower gully basin area. Temporal assessment of soil erosion indicated that increase of rainfall volume protracted the whole process of sediment production, and vegetation on the slope delayed that process. Results indicated that the highest spatial coverage of vegetation (73.5%) yield very low amount of soil [basin-I experimental site (Adjusted R2 = 0.56)] whereas, the lowest spatial coverage (5.9%) leads to severe soil loss [(basin-IV experimental site (Adjusted R2 = 0.33)]. Results illustrated that at the initial stage, the percent of sand was maximum in the upper catchment of each gully basin and the concentration of silt and clay is less. Gradually as vegetation starts trapping the sediment, composition of soil changes registering higher percentage of finer particles. Again, the nutrients detached from the upper catchment were arrested by check dams that induced nutrients supply and water storage, which in turn, increased the growth of vegetation. This result proved the significance of vegetation cover to curb soil erosion and it may help the planners and managers to take proper decision for the conservation of soil.