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Water and sediment balances of a contour bench terracing system in a semiarid cultivated zone (El Gouazine, Central Tunisia)

Abstract : Contour benches are earthen structures constructed across cultivated slopes, at intervals down the slope, largely used in semi-arid zones. The results of an experiment to monitor water and sediment balance inside a contour bench terrace system are presented. The study site, located in the El-Gouazine watershed (central Tunisia), includes two terraced plots of approximately 3000 m2, one of which was left fallow for several years, while the other was tilled. The characteristics of rainfall–runoff processes and erosion inside both terraced plots during a two-year period (2004–2006) are described. Ploughing reduced runoff by 75%. Erosion was monitored following runoff episodes that produced observable deposits in the bench channel. After ploughing, erosion was reduced by 44% between July 2004 and July 2005 and by 50% between October 2005 and July 2006. However, erosion per millimetre of runoff was about twice as great on the tilled soil as on the fallow. Even though ploughing weakens the soil, it seems to reduce erosion by increasing infiltration. For the studied rain events, ploughing used in combination with contour bench terraces seems to have limited erosion and enhanced the effectiveness of contour bench terrace management
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Youssef Al Ali, Jaoudat Touma, Patrick Zante, Slah Nasri, Jean Albergel. Water and sediment balances of a contour bench terracing system in a semiarid cultivated zone (El Gouazine, Central Tunisia). Hydrological Sciences Journal, Taylor & Francis, 2008, 53 (4), pp.883-892. ⟨10.1623/hysj.53.4.883⟩. ⟨hal-02658327⟩

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