EGU22-4998, updated on 27 Mar 2022
EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The effect of soil erosion depth on maize yields, evidence based on a long-term field simulation experiment 

Li Rong1,2, Xingwu Duan1,2, Taicong Liu1, and Yuhong Qin1
Li Rong et al.
  • 1Institute of International Rivers and Eco–security, Yunnan University, Kunming, Yunnan Province, China(
  • 2Yunnan Key Laboratory of International Rivers and Trans-boundary Eco–security, Kunming,Yunnan Province, China(

Despite soil erosion has a strong impact on crop yield, whether soil erosion depth leads to abrupt or gradual crop yield changes is not well understood. To investigate how crop yields respond to soil erosion depth, we conducted a simulated erosion experiment by adopting the cut-and-fill method from 2012 to 2018 in a typical mountain area in the southeastern China. A completely randomized design with five soil erosion depth (5, 10, 20, 30 and 40 cm soil cut) and a control (0 cm soil cut) were used. Each treatment had three replicates. Maize was planted in these simulated erosion plots and maize yields were monitored from 2012 to 2018. Our results showed that the maize yield decreased with erosion depth and with decreasing remaining Ap horizon depth. Inconsistent with earlier studies, maize yield exhibited a quadratic function rather than linear response to increase in soil erosion depth and decrease in remaining Ap horizon depth. Soil erosion depth led to abrupt changes in maize yield. Compared with control, maize yield did not decrease significantly at 5 cm erosion depth or >25 cm remaining A horizon depth, but its reduction rate per 1cm of soil loss (3.36%) increased sharply at 10 cm erosion depth or 20 cm remaining Ap horizon. When remaining Ap horizon left 10 cm, maize yield demonstrated the lowest, which may be irreversible via application of chemical fertilization. Considering high heterogeneity of Ap horizon in the mountain area, soil erosion-crop yield relationship could be expressed well by remaining Ap horizon. We also found remaining Ap depth had a significant direct and indirect (via reduced SOM, soil available water, AP and AK contents) negative effect on maize yield. These results could be useful in identifying allowable soil-loss thickness and highlight the importance of soil nutrient monitoring in different soil erosion levels in designing a fertilization scheme aimed at ensuring food security.

How to cite: Rong, L., Duan, X., Liu, T., and Qin, Y.: The effect of soil erosion depth on maize yields, evidence based on a long-term field simulation experiment , EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-4998,, 2022.