Environmental Management

, Volume 36, Issue 6, pp 886–898 | Cite as

Assessment of Soil Erodibility Indices for Conservation Reserve Program Lands in Southwestern Kansas Using Satellite Imagery and GIS Techniques

  • Sunyurp Park
  • Stephen L. Egbert
Environmental Assessment


The soil erodibility index (EI) of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands, which was the major criterion for CRP enrollment, was assessed for six counties in southwestern Kansas using USGS seamless digital elevation model data and Geographical Informational System techniques. The proportion of land areas with EI values of 8 or lower was less than 1% of the entire study area and most of the land areas (72.5%) were concentrated on EI values between 8 and 24. Although land acreage with EI values of 24 or higher decreased dramatically, the proportion of CRP lands to the other land-use types did not change much from low to high EI levels. The soil EI and physical soil characteristics of the CRP lands were compared to those of other land-use types. In general, the mean EI values of the land-use types were strongly correlated with physical soil properties, including organic matter content, clay content, available water capacity, permeability, and texture. CRP lands were compared in detail with cropland in terms of their soil characteristics to infer the pivotal cause of the land transformation. Although there was no significant statistical difference in EI between cropland and CRP soils, soil texture, soil family, and permeability were statistically different between the two. Statistical analyses of these three variables showed that CRP soils had coarser texture and higher permeability on average than cropland soils, indicating that CRP lands in the study area are drier than cropland soils. Therefore, soil moisture characteristics, not necessarily soil erosion potential, might have been the key factor for CRP enrollment in the study area.


Conservation Reserve Program Soil erodibility index GIS Soil properties 



We thank the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for financial support provided through the Great Plains Regional Earth Science Applications Center (GP-RESAC) at the Kansas Applied Remote Sensing Program of the University of Kansas and through NASA’s Earth Science Enterprise program (grants NAGW 3810 and NAG 5-4990). We further acknowledge financial and other assistance from numerous state and federal partners who made the Kansas GAP land-cover map possible: Kansas State University, the Kansas GIS Policy Board, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, the Kansas Biological Survey, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Biological Resources Division of the US Geological Survey, the US Environmental Protection Agency (Region 7), and the National Park Service. We also thank personnel from the Farm Service Agencies in each of the counties in the study area for providing information on CRP sample sites. Kansas NRCS’ Larry Kichler kindly provided us with the climatic factor map for wind erosion, slope, and slope length data for CRP land in Kansas and other CRP-related materials.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography and Environmental StudiesUniversity of Hawaii–HiloHiloUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geography and Kansas Applied Remote Sensing ProgramUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA

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