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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Effect of vegetation removal on soil erosion and bank stability in agricultural drainage ditches

Avilés, Daniel; Wesström, Ingrid; Joel, Abraham


Maintenance of agricultural drainage ditches can be difficult to optimize if farmers have no guidelines on where to target their maintenance efforts. A main concern is whether ditch banks will experience soil erosion or mass movement (failure). In order to help identify sites that are more likely to experience soil erosion and/or mass movement, soil susceptibility to detachment was assessed in this study using a cohesive strength meter (CSM) and measurements of shear strength in unsaturated direct shear tests. The results showed that soil roots play an important role in stabilizing ditch banks against mass movement and in reducing the rate of soil detachment. A positive stabilizing effect was detected by CSM and confirmed by shear strength measurements. The conclusion is that native vegetation should be maintained on ditch banks, instead of being removed during maintenance work as is currently the case


bank erosion; roots density; soil shear strength; ditch status evaluation; ditch management

Published in

2020, Volume: 9, number: 11, article number: 441

      SLU Authors

      • Sustainable Development Goals

        SDG15 Life on land
        SDG2 Zero hunger
        SDG12 Responsible consumption and production

        UKÄ Subject classification

        Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
        Soil Science
        Environmental Management

        Publication identifier


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