Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Evaluation of Soil Erosion

Author(s):  A.M. Gafurov, no, no, Kazan Federal University, Kazan, Russia,

Issue:  Volume 43, № 2

Rubric:  Earth sciences

Annotation:  Classical field methods for assessing soil erosion provide generalized information about the washout layer or, as in the case of the method of dating deposits in the bottoms of dry valley using 137Cs as chronomarker, indirectly estimate the intensity of erosion by the accumulation layer. Using an approach that calculates the changes of the entire surface relative to the original, allows us to estimate the volume of material transferred within the study area, as well as estimate the amount of material transferred. The paper presents the results of the development and testing of a methodology for assessing soil erosion using unmanned aerial vehicles. The quadcopter DJI Phantom 4 was used as a UAV. The work was carried out in two key sites located in the agrarian sector of the European part of Russia - in the Republic of Tatarstan and in the Stavropol Krai. Each site was studied twice with an interval of 1 year, for each survey were obtained super-detailed digital elevation models. Subtraction of multi-temporal models allowed us to estimate the soil erosion at both key sites. The annual flush layer from the site in the Republic of Tatarstan was 1.94 mm, from the site in Stavropol Krai 1.04 mm. The use of UAVs allows not only to estimate the volume changes on arable land, but also to automatically map horizontal changes of rill erosion. For example, the increase in the number of rillheads in the Republic of Tatarstan over the year was 10 %, their density increased by 30 %. Thus, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles allows for a comprehensive assessment of erosion processes in agricultural areas.

Keywords:  erosion, unmanned aerial vehicles, small catchments, accumulation, field work.

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