An investigation into the state of agricultural lands under water erosion conditions
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Protecting agricultural land from erosion continues to be the most important task within the overall issue of the protection and rational use of land resources. That is why it is necessary to comprehensively study patterns of development in the erosion processes, and to assess the specific nature and features of their impact upon soil and vegetation, water resources, and landscapes in various natural conditions. The work is based on the results of many years of experimental research on problems that are related to soil erosion, and on the accumulation of slope sediments in catchments and in the valleys of small rivers, based on the use of landscape geography, soil morphology, and cartography methods of research. The research methodology that is included the collection covers the analysis of cartographic and experimental materials on the geo-ecological situation regarding an formation and manifestation of spatial and temporal erosion processes in the territory, and, the carrying out of research work which cover the soil washout and erosion processes in key areas of agricultural landscapes. The methodology also includes, the process of conducting a determination of the influence of natural and anthropogenic factors on the intensity of erosion processes, and the cameral processing of results that have been obtained in the field, all of which characterise the erosion and hydrology situation in the basins of small rivers. The paper presents the latest levels of research on the spatial and temporal variability of the features of erosion processes, depending upon their mechanisms of functioning, the complexity of the territory’s geomorphological landscape conditions, and the intensity of anthropogenic load on the catchment areas of small rivers. The management of the migration of biogenic elements in agricultural landscapes can be improved if, on the one hand, the share of cultivated land is reduced and, on the other hand, the area of meadow land and small forest plots is increased, which significantly serve to slow down the flow of erosion products, including biogenic elements, into the hydrosphere. It has been established that, with an increase in the share of arable land, the removal of biogenic elements with runoff increases in direct proportion. Therefore, with up to 50% of the territory being cultivated, nitrogen removal was seven times higher - and phosphorus two times higher - than with the same territory under 20% of cultivation. With 80% cultivation, nitrogen removal increases two times and phosphorus and potassium removal increases four times when compared to 40–50% cultivation of the same territory in the catchments.