As the problem of soil erosion grows, field staff are increasingly faced with the task of measuring or estimating soil erosion and runoff. The subject is complex and few textbooks or manuals provide much in the way of guidance. As a result, much time, effort and money have been wasted on work that has yielded little useful information. Many experiments, particularly those involving runoff plots and measuring weirs, have been abandoned because they proved to be impractical to operate, faulty in design or too slow in providing the type of information needed.
The main purpose of this Soils Bulletin is to suggest simple methods and techniques which might be used by people working in the field who are not employed to carry out research, but do have a need for information on runoff and erosion. Although it is not directed at professional research workers and academics, it contains strong recommendations about the need for sound experimental design and analysis which are relevant to all experimentation.
Simple field measurements are often undervalued and suspected of lacking scientific validity. Properly designed and carefully executed they can provide sound data. Their strength lies in the possibilities of taking large numbers of measurements cheaply and with only semi-skilled assistance and of obtaining results that are far more meaningful and visually impressive to the farmer and extension worker than more sophisticated experiments on a distant experimental station.
In preparing this Bulletin, references have been restricted to accessible material for readers wishing to obtain more information; the lists of further reading are signposts to information which lies beyond the scope of this Bulletin.