Encyclopedia of Natural Hazards

2013 Edition
| Editors: Peter T. Bobrowsky

Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE)

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4399-4_43


Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE); RUSLE2; USLE


The Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) is a mathematical model developed to predict the soil erosion by rainfall and surface runoff on a field. The empirical result of the USLE corresponds to a long-term average annual rate of soil losses under a variety of climatic conditions, soil types, topographic characteristics, crop systems, and conservation practices. However, USLE only predicts the amount of soil loss resulting from sheet or rill erosion on a single slope and does not account for additional soil losses that might occur.


The USLE is based on soil erosion data collected from experiments in erosion plots and rainfall simulators since the 1930s by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) Soil Conservation Service (now the “USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service”). The main purpose of this model was to preserve cropland from erosion and the diminution of the agricultural...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Foster, G. R., 2008. Draft Science Documentation: Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation Version 2. Washington (DC): USDA-Agriculture Research Service. 349 p. http://www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/64080530/RUSLE/RUSLE2_Science_Doc.pdf.
  2. Wischmeier, W. H., Smith, D. D., 1978. Predicting rainfall erosion losses: a guide to conservation planning. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Handbook number 537, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington (DC), 58 p. http://www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/ad_hoc/36021500USLEDatabase/AH_537.pdf

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Forestry Remote Sensing LaboratoryUniversity of New BrunswickFrederictonCanada