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Profile photo of Ronny Berndtsson

Ronny Berndtsson

Professor, Dep Director, MECW Dep Scientific Coordinator

Profile photo of Ronny Berndtsson

Quantifying soil loss in the Brazilian savanna ecosystem: current rates and anticipated impact of climate changes


  • Ronny Berndtsson
  • Dimaghi Schwamback

Summary, in English

Land cover and land use is well known to be one of the main drivers of erosion and soil loss. However, most findings rely on short-term data analysis and focus on only one or two land covers. In our paper we investigate the long-term trade-off between common agricultural land
cover changes (sugarcane, pasture, and soybean) and their runoff and soil loss rates, as well as comparing them to forest (wooded Cerrado) and bare soil. The field monitoring covers runoff and soil loss in experimental 100 m² plots in Brazil maintained under different land cover for the past 10 years. The paper provides three main contributions: (1) long-term runoff and soil loss rates of plots under different LULC in tropical conditions, (2) a comparison of runoff, soil loss, and pedhodological characteristics between plots under bare soil, but constructed 10 years apart, and (3) an analysis of the trade-off between different LULCs. Our study reveals varying rates of runoff ,varying from 0.16 to 0.57 ton.ha-1.year-1, and runoff rates among different agricultural land covers. When ranking land covers based on runoff and soil loss rates, there is a shift in ranking positions, make it difficult to determine which one is more environmentally damaging. However, it is evident that agricultural practices had a significant impact when compared to native forest. For example, the area converted to pasture leads to nineteen times more runoff, while a conversion to sugarcane leads to five times more soil loss. Not only land cover plays a major influencing factor, but also weathering exposing time. Areas under the same land cover and environmental conditions have different rates of soil loss and runoff due to long-term exposing effects such as crusting. Our findings have high relevance for the hydrological and agricultural community by demonstrating (i) the numerical trade-off in terms of soil loss and runoff due to land cover changes and (ii) that soil loss should not be assumed to be a linear process over time, as it commonly is regarded.


  • Division of Water Resources Engineering
  • Centre for Advanced Middle Eastern Studies (CMES)
  • MECW: The Middle East in the Contemporary World
  • LTH Profile Area: Water

Publishing year




Document type

Conference paper: abstract


  • Water Engineering

Conference name

AGU23, 2023 American Geophysical Union

Conference date