Soil conservation through sediment trapping: a review

Getahun, M.M.; Keesstra, S.D.; Stroosnijder, L.; Baartman, J.E.M.; Maroulis, J.


Preventing the off-site effects of soil erosion is an essential part of good catchment management. Most efforts are in the form of on-site soil and water conservation measures. However, sediment trapping can be an alternative (additional) measure to prevent the negative off-site effects of soil erosion. Therefore, not all efforts should focus solely on on-site soil conservation, but also on the safe routing of sediment-laden flows and on creating sites and conditions where sediment can be trapped. Sediment trapping can be applied on-site and off-site and involves both vegetative and structural measures. This paper provides an extensive review of scientific journal articles, case studies and other reports that have assessed soil conservation efforts and the sediment trapping efficacy (STE) of vegetative and structural measures. The review is further illustrated through participatory field observation and stakeholders interview. Vegetation type and integration of two or more measures are important factors influencing STE. In this review, the STE of most measures was evaluated either individually or in such combinations. In real landscape situations, it is not only important to select the most efficient erosion control measures, but also to determine their optimum location in the catchment. Hence, there is a need for research that shows a more integrated determination of STE at catchment scale. If integrated measures are implemented at the most appropriate spatial locations within a catchment where they can disconnect landscape units from each other, they will decrease runoff velocity and sediment transport and, subsequently, reduce downstream flooding and sedimentation problems