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Open AccessArticle

Performance of Conservation Techniques for Semiarid Environments: Field Observations with Caatinga, Mulch, and Cactus Forage Palma

1
Department of Agricultural Engineering, Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Bahia State, Campus Bom Jesus da Lapa. Rodovia BR349, s/n, Zona Rural, Bom Jesus da Lapa 47600-000, BA, Brazil
2
Department of Agricultural Engineering, Federal Rural University of Pernambuco, Rua Dom Manoel de Medeiros, Dois Irmãos, Recife 50910-130, PE, Brazil
3
MARE—Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre, Department of Life Sciences, Faculty of Sciences and Technology, University of Coimbra, Rua da Matemática, 49, 3004-517 Coimbra, Portugal
4
Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Sciences and Technology, University of Coimbra, Rua Luís Reis Santos, Pólo II-Coimbra University, 3030-788 Coimbra, Portugal
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(4), 792; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11040792
Received: 4 February 2019 / Revised: 2 April 2019 / Accepted: 4 April 2019 / Published: 16 April 2019
Understanding small-scale hydrologic processes and the impact of soil conservation techniques are crucial in reducing runoff and sediment losses in semi-arid regions. This study was conducted in the Alto Ipanema River Basin, in Pernambuco State (Brazil). Soil and water dynamics were intensely monitored in twelve experimental plots with different coverage conditions (plot with bare soil—Bare; plot with natural vegetation—Natur; plot with mulch—Mulch; plot with Cactus Palma—Palma). By far, bare soil conditions produced higher runoff and soil losses. Mulch cover was close to natural vegetation cover, but still presented higher runoff and sediment losses. Palma, which is a very popular spineless cactus for animal feed in the Brazilian semi-arid region, presented an intermediate hydrologic impact in controlling runoff, enhancing soil moisture, and also reducing soil losses. Experiments were conducted in one hydrologic year (2016/2017) at three different sites. They were intensely monitored and had the same number of plots. This enabled us to carry out a robust performance assessment of the two soil conservation practices adopted (Mulch and Palma), compared to natural vegetation cover and bare soil conditions. Such low-cost alternatives could be easily adopted by local farms in the region, and, hence, improve soil reclamation and regional resiliency in a water-scarce environment. View Full-Text
Keywords: hillslope; mulch; Caatinga; Cactus Palma; soil; runoff generation hillslope; mulch; Caatinga; Cactus Palma; soil; runoff generation
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Lopes, I.; Montenegro, A.A.A.; de Lima, J.L.M.P. Performance of Conservation Techniques for Semiarid Environments: Field Observations with Caatinga, Mulch, and Cactus Forage Palma. Water 2019, 11, 792.

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