Laboratory assessment of the influence of rice straw mulch size on soil loss
Application of crop residues (mulch) over the soil surface is a common practice to control soil erosion and promote infiltration. This laboratory study aimed at investigating the effect of different rice straw mulch sizes on runoff and sediment transport. The experimental runs were conducted using a soil flume of adjustable slope and a rainfall simulator, considering bare soil and three different soil covers: 1, 2 and 5 t ha−1 application rates, for three sizes of rice straw mulch (10, 30 and 200 mm). The experimental results showed that for the same mulch application rate (by weight), the smaller mulch sizes (i.e. high surface coverage percentage) presented less soil loss. For example, 90 % soil loss reduction was achieved for smaller sizes of rice straw mulch and 80 % for the bigger size. The results of this study are an important contribution to the understanding of the soil loss process in small basins and to the definition of relevant soil conservation measures, at the plot/field scale.