Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 68, Issue 6, pp 1723–1732 | Cite as

Effects of gully erosion and gully filling on soil depth and crop production in the black soil region, northeast China

  • Honghu Liu
  • Tianyu Zhang
  • Baoyuan LiuEmail author
  • Gang Liu
  • G. V. Wilson
Original Article


Gully erosion is a very serious problem in the black soil region of northeast China. Gully filling is often adopted for controlling gully erosion by local farmers and thus causes more serious soil erosion. In this study an ephemeral gully (EG, 74 m) and a classical gully (CG, 52 m) connected at the gully’s headcut were selected as the study site. Two comparisons were made to explore the effects of gully erosion and the subsequent gully filling on soil depth and soybean yield: (1) soil depth between 81 sample points in the study site and 11 reference points along the same slope with the gully; (2) soybean yield between 81 sample points in the study site and 30 baseline locations near the study site. The results indicated that gully erosion caused the reduction of soil depth and soybean yield. Although filling gullies with soil from adjacent areas seemed to be an expedient way to remediate the gullies, it resulted in substantial soybean yield reduction. Gully erosion reduced the soil depth and soybean yield in 74.4 and 83.9 % of the study site, respectively. The soybean yield reduction ratio was 34.5 % for the whole study site and 2.6 % for the black soil region. Soil depth was the most important soil property indicator to reduce yield. Every 1 cm decrease in soil depth in the areas adjacent to gullies due to infilling activities resulted in a 2 % decrease in yield. More significant was the deposition of sediment from gully erosion, which completely eliminated soybean yield. Currently, effective soil and water conservation measures are not known and adopted by local farmers extensively. In the future, once some measures for preventing soil erosion, in particular gully erosion, were proved effective, these technologies should be disseminated among local farmers.


Soil erosion Soil property Soil and water conservation measures Deposition 



The authors appreciate Dr. Yongguang Zhang, Dr. Chiyuan Miao and Dr. Xingwu Duan from Beijing Normal University for their assistance in the fieldwork. The study was supported by Ministry of Science and Technology 973 plan project (2007CB407204), Open Fund of the Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology (2009-KF-10), Open Fund of the State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau (10501-282) and Innovation Project of Changjiang River Scientific Research Institute (CKSF 2012052/TB).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Honghu Liu
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Tianyu Zhang
    • 1
  • Baoyuan Liu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gang Liu
    • 1
  • G. V. Wilson
    • 4
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource EcologyBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Changjiang River Scientific Research InstituteWuhanPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess PlateauYanglingPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Watershed Physical Processes Research Unit, USDA-ARSNational Sedimentation LaboratoryOxfordUSA

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