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151

Chapter 9
Measurements of rain splash on bench terraces
in a humid tropical steepland environment
Abstract Soil loss continues to threaten agricultural production on the rainfed bench terraces of
Javas predominantly volcanic uplands. Erosion and sediment transport processes on back-
sloping terraces with well-aggregated clay oxisols in West Java were studied using two different
techniques. Splash on bare, cropped or mulched sub-horizontal (2-3-) terrace beds was studied
using splash cups of different sizes, whereas transport of sediment on the predominantly bare and
steep (30- 40-) terrace risers was measured using a novel device that combined a Gerlach-type
trough with a splash box, to enable the separate measurement of transport by wash and splash
processes. Measurements were made during two consecutive rainy seasons. The results were
interpreted using a recently developed consistent splash distribution theory and related to rainfall
erosivity. Splash transportability on the terrace risers was more than an order of magnitude
greater than on bare terrace beds (0.39-0.57 g m J
-1
versus 0.013-0.016 g m J
-1
). This was caused
primarily by a greater average splash length on the short, steep risers (>11 cm versus ca. 1 cm on
the beds). Splashed amounts appeared to be strongly influenced by the gradual formation of a
protective pavement of coarser aggregates, in particular on the terrace beds. Soil aggregate size
exhibited a clear inverse relationship with detachment and splash length (and therefore
transportability), as did the degree of canopy and mulch cover. On the terrace risers, splash-creep
and gravitational processes transported an additional 6-50% of measured rain splash, whereas
transport by wash played a marginal role.
Parts of this chapter are published as: Van Dijk, A.I.J.M., Bruijnzeel, L.A. and Wiegman, S.E.
Measurements of rain splash on bench terraces in a humid tropical steepland environment.
Hydrological Processes (in press)
9.1. Introduction
Despite several decades of conservation efforts, soil erosion in the uplands of Java
still constitutes a major problem that affects the livelihood of millions of people. Recent
research in a volcanic agricultural catchment in the highlands of West Java has
demonstrated, inter alia, that the bulk of sediment leaving the catchment (in the order of
40 t ha
-1
annually; Chapter 14) is generated on the agricultural fields, despite the fact that
these are bench-terraced. In turn, well over half of the sediment produced on these fields
appears to originate from the steep (30-40-) and unprotected terrace risers that have been
observed to erode at rates of more than 30 kg m
-2
yr
-1
(Purwanto and Bruijnzeel, 1998;
A.I.J.M. van Dijk (2002) Water and Sediment Dynamics in Bench-terraced Agricultural
Steeplands in West Java, Indonesia. PhD Thesis, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
CHAPTER 9 - RAIN SPLASH ON BENCH TERRACES
152
Purwanto, 1999). The upper part of the soil in which these terraces have been constructed
is highly permeable and produces little runoff. Indeed, transport by rain splash has been
shown to be the dominant erosion process on the usually bare terrace risers, whereas,
conversely, sediment from the sub-horizontal (<10-) terrace beds is transported by a
combination of rain splash and overland flow (Wiegman, 1999). Detachment by rain
splash has been shown to be an essential first step in the chain of processes leading to the
loss of soil (Rose, 1993; Hudson, 1995), but it is notoriously difficult to untangle
detachment and transport by splash and wash (Sutherland et al., 1996; Wan and El-
Swaify, 1998).
To gain more insight into the rain splash process a number of techniques is available.
Numerous authors have used splash cups and when cups of different sizes are used, such
measurements can provide valuable information about the characteristics of rain splash
(Torri and Poesen, 1988). In Chapter 8, a mathematical splash distribution theory was
advanced that may be used to interpret splash measurements made on (near) horizontal
surfaces and derive corresponding rates of detachment and transport, as well as
information about the spatial distribution of the splashed particles. However, the
interpretation of measurements made with splash cups became less straightforward on
steeper slopes, where the spatial distribution of splashed particles tends to be
asymmetrical. The theory outlined in Chapter 8 offers a framework for the interpretation
of one-dimensional measurements of splash, such as those made with splash boxes or soil
trays, and enables assessment of the errors associated with the use of symmetrical theory
to interpret measurements made on sloping surfaces.
In this chapter we present the results of a study of rain splash made on sub-
horizontal terrace beds and on steep terrace risers, constructed in well-aggregated clayey
oxisols in the volcanic uplands of West Java. Two different techniques were applied: on
the terrace beds, splash cups of different sizes were used, whereas on the steep
unvegetated terrace risers, splash transport was measured along with wash transport
using a combination of a Gerlach-trough (Gerlach, 1967) and a splash box that was
divided into several compartments. In the course of the cropping season a vegetative
cover developed on the beds, which affected the splash process. The vegetation was
monitored to allow quantification of this influence. In addition, measurements were made
on bare sections of the terrace bed and on soil that was not only cropped but had also
received a protective mulch cover. Rainfall intensity was also measured and these data
were used to derive relationships between rainfall erosivity and soil splash.
9.2. Materials and methods
9.2.1. Soil
The soil on which the experiments were carried out was classified as a Red Latosol
(according to the Indonesian Soil Classification System, Soepraptohardjo, 1961) or a
Haplorthox (according to USDA nomenclature), which has developed in Pleistocene and
Holocene andesitic tuffs with kaolinite as the dominant clay mineral (P.P. Hehuwat, pers.
comm.). It consisted of a rather massive clay loam subsoil overlain by relatively loose
silty clay topsoil with very little sand (ca. 70% clay, 30% silt). The thickness of this
upper layer varied from 10 to 70 cm on the terrace beds and from 0 to 70 cm on the
terrace risers. The top 10 cm showed a median dispersed particle size of 1.2 m (laser
grain size analysis; Konert and Vandenberghe, 1997). However, the topsoil was well-
CHAPTER 9 - RAIN SPLASH ON BENCH TERRACES
153
aggregated, with the crumbly sub-angular aggregates sometimes reaching a diameter of
more than 8 mm and with a median dry-sieved aggregate size of 3.2 mm. The median
size of water-stable aggregates in the top 10 cm of soil was determined through wet
sieving at ca. 1.1 mm (see Fig. 3.4). As a result, the field texture of the soil was closer to
a fine sandy loam (Purwanto, 1999). More details may be found in Chapter 3.
9.2.2. Rainfall erosivity
From experiments using soil trays exposed to natural rainfall (Chapter 10), it
appeared that total storm kinetic energy was a reasonable predictor of transport by rain
splash, but a considerably better correlation was obtained when considering only the
kinetic energy of rainfall falling at intensities over 20 mm h
-1
(cf. Hudson, 1965). Storm
rainfall depth was measured at the experimental site using a manual rain gauge with a
100 cm
2
orifice at 1.50 m above the ground to avoid interference by the surrounding
crops, whereas rainfall intensity was measured with a custom-built tipping bucket-logger
system. The data logger registered date and time (to the nearest second) of each tip,
which corresponded to a rainfall depth of 0.07 mm. The system was calibrated and the
data resampled into five-minute intervals using the methods described in Chapter 11.
For each five-minute interval, the kinetic energy flux E
K
(in J m
-2
) was calculated
from rainfall intensity R (in mm h
-1
) and rainfall depth P (in mm), using the general
equation derived in Chapter 7 on the basis of a literature review:
( ) [ ]P R P e E
K K
042 . 0 exp 52 . 0 1 3 . 28
[9.1]
This equation adequately described the relationship between rainfall intensity and its
kinetic energy content e
K
(in J m
-2
mm
-1
) at sea level for a range of locations in the
tropics and subtropics. Kinetic energy calculated with Eq. [9.1] needs to be corrected for
the fact that raindrop fall velocities increase with altitude. Assuming an increase in
kinetic energy of 1% per 100 m rise in altitude (cf. Beard, 1977; Chapter 7) yields a
correction factor of 1.06 for the study location (ca. 580 m a.s.l.) and this value was used
throughout.
9.2.3. Splash cup measurements and their interpretation
To enable the estimation of soil detachment rates on the terrace beds, measurements
were made using splash cups of the same design as those used by Poesen and Torri
(1988). The cups used were made of PVC pipe sockets of different diameters, viz., 30
(seven pieces), 40 (seven), 50 (five), 75 (three) and 125 mm (two). A round piece of
perforated sheet metal or mesh covered with filter paper rested on a rim halfway inside
the socket. A PVC ring of a few millimetres wide was placed on top of the filter paper to
keep it in place.
The first two series of measurements were made on backsloping terrace beds with a
slope of about 2-between 25 November and 24 December 1998 and between 19
February and 9 March 1999. No measurements were made between these periods for
logistical reasons. The soil of the terrace beds had been hoed during the preceding dry
season (September/October) and maize and cassava were sown and planted, respectively,
CHAPTER 9 - RAIN SPLASH ON BENCH TERRACES
154
on 17 November 1998. The sockets were pushed vertically into the loose topsoil down to
about one millimetre below the rim of the cup, taking care not to disturb the surrounding
soil. All soil material inside the cups was taken out and the mesh and filter pieces
inserted. After four to nine storms, the cups were removed and the collected sediment
was sampled, after which the cups were randomly re-installed on the same terrace bed.
The sediment was dried to constant weight in an oven at 80-C. Subsequently, the
sediment was allowed to cool for about five hours before the weight of the sediment was
determined to the nearest 0.001 g. During this time the material attracted some moisture
from the air; testing suggested that the oven-dried samples regained 1-4% weight,
depending on the humidity of the air.
A third series of measurements was carried out between 30 October and 24
December 1999, at and near a group of erosion plots on an adjacent terrace bed. The
splash cups were distributed over bed sections representing three different treatments:
one section was kept bare; another was sown and planted with maize, rice and cassava; a
third, planted with the same mixed crops, was mulched at the time of sowing on 23
October 1999 (Table 9.1). The exact rate of mulching was not determined, but the
resulting mulch cover was monitored by digital analysis of overhead photographs and by
the line-intercept method (Walker, 1978). The 1999 terrace bed surrounding the splash
cups had slopes of 2-5- with an estimated average of 3-. This time, the cups were
emptied after each eight to eleven storms; otherwise the procedure was the same as
described for 1998. In addition, after drying and weighing of the samples, the sediment
Experiment Splash cups (beds) Splash boxes - runoff troughs (risers)
Period
Location
1998/99 late 1999 1998/99
(I and II)
1998/99
(III and IV)
1999/2000
Measurement period from 25 Nov 98- 30 Oct - 2 Dec 98 - 3 Dec 98 -
28 Dec 99
-
to 9 Mar 99
a
24 Dec 99 30 Mar 99
b
30 Mar 99
b
18 Jan 00
Slope gradient 2- 3- 40- 36- 30-
Projected slope length (m) ca. 2.0 ca. 2.0 0.68 0.65-0.68 0.80
N sampling intervals 5 4 9 9 3
N days 41 56 72 76 21
N storms 38 41 52 58 18
Total rainfall (mm) 760 739 1006 1017 327
Average storm depth (mm) 20.0 18.0 19.4 17.5 18.2
Average rainfall rate, R (mm h
-1
) 5.9 6.2 5.2 4.6 6.7
Total kinetic energy, E
K
(kJ m
-2
) 15.3 16.6 21.6 21.5 7.5
Average energy load, e
K
(J m
-2
mm
-1
) 20.1 22.4 21.4 21.2 23.0
N storms R>20 mm h
-1
28 25 31 31 7.0
Total kinetic energy, E
20
(kJ m
-2
) 10.0 10.7 13.1 13.3 5.0
Average E
20
load (J m
-2
mm
-1
) 13.2 14.5 13.0 13.1 15.4
E
20
/ E
K
(%) 66% 65% 61% 62% 67%
a
except for the period 24 December 1998 - 19 February 1999.
b
except for the period 27 December 1998 - 17 January 1999.
Table 9.1. Characteristics of sites and rainfall during the experiments.
CHAPTER 9 - RAIN SPLASH ON BENCH TERRACES
155
from two or more cups of equal size per plot was bulked and sieved using mesh sizes of
0.149, 0.250, 0.590, 1.19, 2.0, 4.0 and 8.0 mm. During all periods, the density and height
of the crops present were monitored to estimate canopy cover following the methods
described in Chapter 5.
On the basis of the assumption that the spatial distribution of particles splashed from
a point of impact can be described by an exponential function, an equation was derived in
Chapter 8 that can be used to interpret measurements made with splash cups. They
demonstrated that the apparent splash rate, m
R
(in g m
-2
) - calculated as the mass (in g) of
sediment splashed into a cup of radius R (m), divided by its surface area (in m
2
) - is
related to the weighted-average splash length (in m) and the actual rate of detachment
(in g m
-2
) by:

R
R
m
R

1
]
1

,
_


2
2
exp 1 [9.2]
As cup size increases, the term between straight brackets in Eq. [9.2] approaches unity.
Because the equation has two unknown variables, cups of at least two different sizes are
needed to calculate both and ; in the current study five different sizes were used. Eq.
[9.2] was fitted to the measurements by optimisation of and using the Levenberg-
Marquardt method by least squares. The same method was used to interpret the apparent
splash rates associated with different aggregate size classes as determined by sieving.
9.2.4. Measurements with a splash box and runoff trough and their interpretation
In an attempt to separately measure splash and wash on terrace risers, a Gerlach-
trough (Gerlach, 1967) was combined with a modified type of splashboard, or splash box
(Fig. 9.1). A similar device, but without the splash box, was used by Critchley and
Bruijnzeel (1995) in studies of terrace riser erosion elsewhere on Java and in the present
study area by Purwanto (1999). However, their terrace riser troughs (TRTs) did not
separate between sediment transported by splash and wash. The splash box used in the
present study was made from a plastic box with inner dimensions of 32 x 22 x 5 cm
(LxWxH) that was retailed as an assortment box for screws and bits. It had a lid that was
kept upright as a final splashguard. The splash box was divided into four compartments
separated by 5 cm high partitions about one millimetre thick (Fig. 9.1). On one side of
the box, sections were cut out of each compartment to facilitate sediment sampling and
drainage of rainfall. To prevent the loss of sediment, these lateral openings were covered
with sliding folded pieces of sheet metal that left just enough space for excess water to
drain while at the same time containing the sediment in the compartment. Finally, the
inside of the hinging part of the box was covered with tape while strips of nylon 1 mm
wire mesh lined the compartments to prevent sediment from splashing out again (Fig.
9.1). The runoff trough was a bucket having the same width as the splash box. A piece of
U-shaped sheet metal with a lip inserted into the riser prevented runoff from infiltrating
below the level of the splash box and guided the water into the bucket. A sheet metal
cover prevented rainfall and water draining from the splash box from entering the bucket
(Fig. 9.1). The bucket and splash box were contained in a metal frame with four pins
attached to it that were inserted into the riser. The frame could be adjusted so as to
CHAPTER 9 - RAIN SPLASH ON BENCH TERRACES
156
position the splash box horizontally, while the horizontal distance from the riser could
also be varied.
The risers of the bench terraces at the study location typically consisted of two
segments. The top 50-100 cm as measured along the riser face consisted of loose well-
aggregated topsoil at a slope of 20-40-, whereas the remainder of the riser had been cut
out in the massive subsoil at a steeper angle of 50-60-. The face width of the lower riser
segment depended on the overall height of the riser and ranged between 50 and 200 cm.
The overall vertical riser height was usually 60-120 cm, with an overall average slope of
30-50-. During preliminary tests it was shown that the subsoil was much less erodible
and that by far the largest fraction of sediment coming from the terrace risers originated
from the loose top soil (Wiegman, 1999). Most of the sediment arriving at the steep and
much less permeable subsoil section was quickly transported to the toe drain running
along the foot of the riser by a combination of gravitational processes, splash and wash.
Therefore, the present measurements focussed on the topsoil part of the risers.
A first series of measurements was made between 2 December 1998 and 30 March
1999 on two terrace risers (labelled terraces C and F) that were equipped with two
devices each. For logistical reasons no measurements were made between 28 December
1998 and 17 January 1999. A further series of measurements was conducted the next
rainy season, between 28 December 1999 and 18 January 2000. The frames were
installed just above the boundary between the topsoil and subsoil, whereas the lateral
distance between two devices was a few metres. The splash box was positioned
horizontally with the rim of the first compartment at 4-7 cm distance from the riser, just
above the edge of the runoff guide (Fig. 9.1) to avoid rain entering the trough. The exact
horizontal distance between the splash box and the riser was measured at four points, as
well as the gradient and length of the riser face above each device (Table 9.1). Slopes
Fig. 9.1. The splash box / runoff trough device used in the present study: (a) design and (b)
devices III and IV, installed on a 36 degrees terrace riser at terrace F in the 1998/99 rainy
season.
(a)
(b)
CHAPTER 9 - RAIN SPLASH ON BENCH TERRACES
157
ranged from 36- (devices I and II, terrace C) to 40- (III and IV, terrace F) and riser face
lengths were 65-68 cm. The collectors were sampled as follows: first the sediment
present in the compartments of the splash box was sampled separately. Next, the runoff
water was decanted carefully from the trough and the volume measured. The remaining
sediment was sampled separately. At the first sampling event, however, it appeared that
the amount of splashed, coarse bed load in the troughs was usually more than two
orders of magnitude larger than the amount of suspended sediment. Therefore, no further
attempts were made to measure sediment concentrations in the runoff water separately
from the coarser material. After cleaning the collectors, the trough and splash box were
replaced in their original positions and the distance between riser and splash box was
again measured. The collected sediment was oven-dried (80-C), left to cool and weighed
to the nearest milligram. On the final sampling occasion (30 March 1999), the sediment
from the four compartments of one of the splash boxes was sieved separately after
drying, using ten sieves with mesh sizes up to 8 mm. During the experiments, weeds
slowly invaded the bare riser faces and these were removed about every two months. The
exact weed cover above the splash box/runoff trough devices was not measured, but was
estimated visually at regular intervals. It never exceeded ca. 15%.
During the second series of measurements, between 28 December 1999 and 18
January 2000 (cf. Table 9.1), only two splash boxes were installed on the riser of terrace
F, about 2 m apart. Because it appeared that splash provided the bulk of sediment in the
runoff trough in the studied environment, there was no compelling reason to use a
separate runoff collector and so none was used this time. Instead, the splash box was
positioned in such a way as to be directly in contact with the riser face. Otherwise,
installation and sampling procedures were the same as for the first series. The slope of
the riser face above the splash boxes was about 30- (Table 9.1). Splashed sediment
collected on all sampling occasions was sieved after oven-drying, cooling and weighing,
using mesh sizes of 0.149, 0.250, 0.590, 1.19, 2.0, 4.0 and 8.0 mm.
In Chapter 8 a set of equations was derived to describe splash transport across an
imaginary boundary. On a horizontal surface, splash transport q (in g m
-1
) proved to be
related to detachment rate (in g m
-2
) and average splash length (m) in a surprisingly
simple manner:

q [9.3]
As slope increases, however, there are changes to the physics of the splash process: there
is often a change in the angle and the initial velocity at which the particles are splashed
and the relative fractions of detached sediment splashed in the downslope and upslope
directions may not be equal. In addition, the detachment rate itself may also be dependent
on slope angle (Ghadiri and Payne, 1988). Furthermore, the presence of a slope results in
a longer downslope trajectory of the splashed particles, and therefore a longer splash
length. Eq. [9.3] may still be used as long as either or is known, although it would
only yield an apparent value for the unknown parameter ( or , respectively) that may
be up to 2.42 times higher than the actual value (Chapter 8). The same authors also
provided an equation that can be used to interpret data collected with the type of splash
boxes used in the present study. Eq. [9.2] may be rewritten to yield the amount of splash
beyond a distance x (in m) from a boundary, denoted by q(>x):
CHAPTER 9 - RAIN SPLASH ON BENCH TERRACES
158

,
_

>
x
x q
30 . 1
exp ) (

[9.4]
Again, the value of or derived from Eq. [9.4] will overestimate the actual value by up
to 2.42 times if it is used to interpret measurements of splash down a slope (see Chapter 8
for details). Furthermore, Eq. [9.4] implicitly assumes that x is located on that slope. In
the present study the splash box was placed horizontally, thereby interfering with the
trajectories of particles splashed from the riser. In principle, a correction factor can be
obtained if very detailed information on the trajectories of splash on a slope is available.
Although such studies have been carried out (De Ploey and Savat, 1968; Feodoroff,
1965), even these do not provide sufficient information to derive a feasible mathematical
correction, in particular considering that the results of these studies will have been soil
specific (Ghadiri and Payne, 1988). Therefore, Eq. [9.4] was used with the constraint that
inferred downslope splash lengths represented a minimum value only. The magnitude of
associated errors is discussed later. From the measured transport rates and calculated
apparent detachment rates (Eq. [9.4]), values of transportability (T
20
) and detachability
(D
20
), i.e. expressed per unit of rainfall erosive energy, were calculated. This was done by
dividing the cumulative transported or detached amounts for each sample period by the
corresponding cumulative kinetic energy of rainfall at intensities in excess of 20 mm h
-1
(E
20
).
The sediment that was collected and sieved separately by compartment on selected
occasions was used to calculate relative values of transportability for each aggregate size
class. Furthermore, using the masses of sediment per size class and compartment, the
corresponding minimum average splash lengths and apparent detachabilities could be
calculated using Eq. [9.4]. This does not give the direct contrasts in detachability
between size classes, because the respective aggregate classes make up variable fractions
in the soil. Absolute transportability (T
20,i
) and detachability (D
20,i
) values for a size
class i were estimated by dividing the derived values of transportability and apparent
detachability for that size class by its weight fraction in the soil. The dry-sieved
aggregate size distribution was used for this and may have introduced further errors,
which are discussed further on.
9.3. Results
9.3.1. Rainfall erosivity
Rainfall characteristics during the respective experimental periods are summarised in
Table 9.1. Average characteristics were rather similar during all experiments: average
storm depth varied between 17.5 and 20.0 mm, while average rainfall intensity and
kinetic energy content were 4.6-6.7 mm h
-1
and 20.1-23.0 J mm
-1
m
-2
, respectively. Rain
fell on 72 to 93% of the days. The kinetic energy of rain falling at intensities higher than
20 mm h
-1
constituted 61-67% of total rainfall kinetic energy. However, the percentage of
rain days that experienced rainfall at intensities exceeding 20 mm h
-1
(on a five-minute
basis) was considerably less constant (33-68%). The rainfall characteristics during
individual sampling periods are not listed here, but were much more variable, with
minimum and maximum average storm depths and rainfall intensities of 3.0-32.0 mm
and 2.6-10.4 mm h
-1
, respectively, while average rainfall energy contents ranged from
CHAPTER 9 - RAIN SPLASH ON BENCH TERRACES
159
13.8 to 25.0 J mm
-1
m
-2
. Individual sample periods varied in length between 5 and 18
days, of which one third to all days of experienced some rainfall.
9.3.2. Splash cup measurements on terrace beds
Results from the splash cup measurements conducted on the terrace beds are listed in
Tables 9.2 and 9.3. The first series of measurements were made from 9 to 37 days after
sowing (25 November-23 December 1998), during which period the crops germinated
and began to develop and plant cover increased to about 27%. The second series of
measurements, from 94 to 112 days after sowing (19 February - 9 March 1999),
coincided with the period during which the maize started to wilt and canopy cover
decreased from an estimated 85% at the start to 53% at the end (Table 9.2). At the
Year 1998 1999 Overall
Sampling interval 1 2 3 4 5 6
from 25-Nov 1-Dec 6-Dec 16-Dec 19-Feb 28-Feb
to 1-Dec 6-Dec 12-Dec 23-Dec 27-Feb 9-Mar
Detachment, (kg m
-2
) 21.6 7.7 4.5 5.1 6.0 5.6 50.5
Detachability, D
20
(g J
-1
) 10.3 10.7 2.5 2.7 3.9 2.8 5.0
Transportability, T
20
(g m kJ
-1
) 32.7 33.9 8.0 8.5 12.4 9.0 16.0
Canopy cover fraction, c 0.02 0.03 0.10 0.27 0.83 0.68
Table 9.2. Results of splash measurements on the terrace beds during the 1998/99 rainy
season.
Sampling interval 1 2 3 4 Overall
30-Oct 13-Nov 26-Nov 13-Dec
12-Nov 25-Nov 12-Dec 24-Dec
Detachment, (kg m
-2
) cropped 9.5 23.3 7.6 2.1 42.5
mulched 1.5 7.6 3.8 2.7 15.6
bare 9.3 23.6 20.2 8.3 61.3
Detachability, D
20
(g J
-1
) cropped 18.5 7.1 1.6 0.9 4.0
mulched 3.0 2.3 0.8 1.1 1.4
bare 18.1 7.2 4.4 3.5 5.7
Transportability, T
20
(g m kJ
-1
) cropped 59.0 22.8 5.3 2.8 12.6
mulched 9.4 7.4 2.6 3.6 4.6
bare 57.5 23.0 14.0 11.1 18.2
Canopy cover fraction, c cropped 0.19 0.45 0.67 0.80 0.53
mulched 0.13 0.37 0.62 0.77 0.47
Relative detachability cropped/bare 1.03 0.99 0.38 0.25 0.69
mulch/cropped 0.16 0.33 0.50 1.30 0.37
Table 9.3. Results of splash measurements on the terrace beds in the 1999/2000 rainy season.
CHAPTER 9 - RAIN SPLASH ON BENCH TERRACES
160
beginning of the 1999/2000 rainy season, measurements were made from 7 to 62 days
after sowing (3 October - 24 December 1999), during which canopy cover increased
from zero to 81% and 83% at the end of the last measuring interval, on the mulched and
non-mulched plot, respectively (Table 9.3). The line intercept method and digital
photograph analysis indicated an average mulch cover of 45% and 47 (5)%,
respectively.
When calculating values of splash length () and detachment rate () from the
splash cup measurements using Eq. [9.2], it appeared that there was considerable
variability in average splash lengths for different sampling periods. However, any value
of below 1.5 cm produced a good fit between Eq. [9.2] and the data (e.g. r
2
=0.98 for
=1 cm in Fig. 9.2). The fit changed by less than 1% if the splash length was varied
between 0.05 and 1 cm, but the correlation deteriorated rapidly when higher splash
lengths were used (e.g. =2 cm; Fig. 9.2). Similar equivalencies were obtained for other
sample periods (not shown). As a best estimate, it was decided to use an average splash
length of 1.0 cm in all further calculations of detachment rates and detachability on the
terrace beds. The implications are discussed below.
The resulting detachment rates and values of detachability (D
20
) calculated using
rainfall erosivity values (E
20
) for the respective sampling intervals are also listed in
Tables 9.2 and 9.3. In the 1998/99 rainy season, the detachability of the soil was high
during the first two weeks (10.3-10.7 g J
-1
) but decreased soon after to values between
2.5 and 2.8 g J
-1
, with a temporary increase to 3.9 g J
-1
in the second half of February
1999 (Table 9.2). The same pattern was observed on the cropped plot in 1999, with D
20
quickly decreasing from 18.5 g J
-1
at the start of the measurements to 0.9 g J
-1
at the end
of the eight-week period. Visual inspection of the cups and their surroundings during and
after installing the splash cups gave no reason to suggest that these effects might have
been related to any disturbance of the soil. By comparison, the detachability of the bare
0
1
2
3
4
5
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
R (cm)
m
R

(
g

c
m
-
2
)
0.05 cm
1 cm
2 cm
Fig. 9.2. The relation between splash cup radius (R) and apparent splash rate (m
R
; cumulative
values between 25 November and 23 December 1998). Lines correspond to best fits of Eq.
[9.2] with different values of average splash length , illustrating uncertainties in the
determination of this parameter (see text).
CHAPTER 9 - RAIN SPLASH ON BENCH TERRACES
161
soil remained somewhat higher, decreasing from a comparable initial value of 18.1 g J
-1
to 3.5 g J
-1
after eight weeks. The 46% mulch cover appeared to be very effective in
reducing detachment by splash despite a consistently lower plant canopy cover (Table
9.3). At 3 g J
-1
, initial detachability was only 16% of rates for the non-mulched soils,
although the effectiveness of the mulch seemed to decrease gradually: estimated
detachabilities for the last sampling interval were even about 30% higher than those on
the cropped plot without mulch cover (1.1 versus 0.9 g J
-1
; Table 9.3).
In late 1999, the sediment caught by all the splash cups of a particular size was
bulked per plot, dried and sieved to derive values for the average splash lengths and
detachability associated with different aggregate size classes. However, the relationship
between aggregate size and average splash length was not always well-defined because
of the equivalency problems outlined earlier. The results are summarised in Table 9.4 and
Fig. 9.3. Despite the considerable variation between the three treatments it appears that
splash length decreased with aggregate size, from 4.6-9.8 cm for particles smaller than
0.15 mm, to less than 1 cm for aggregates larger than 0.59 mm (Table 9.4). The estimates
may be considerably in error, probably except for the smaller size classes, which had
relatively large values that allowed a better interpretation of the measurements.
Furthermore, it would seem that overall splash lengths were somewhat shorter on the
cropped plots, compared with the bare soil, although the difference was not statistically
significant (Fig. 9.3). The absolute detachability (D
20,i
) of the respective aggregate size
classes for the bare plot, defined as the detachability divided by the fraction of soil in that
size class, was reasonably similar for all size classes (7.9-20 g J
-1
), although aggregates
between 1.2 and 2.0 mm diameter seemed to be the most detachable. Because of the
difference in associated splash lengths, however, the corresponding values of absolute
transportability (T
20,i
) decreased rapidly from about 0.16 g m J
-1
for particles smaller than
0.15 mm, to less than 0.01 g m J
-1
for aggregates larger than 2 mm (Table 9.4).
Aggregate size class (cm)
median.
d
50
(mm)
upper
limit
(mm)
weight
fraction
(%)
bare soil cropped mulched average
D
20,i
(g J
-1
)
T
20,i
(g m J
-1
)
0.11 0.15 0.5 6.3 9.8 4.6 6.6 7.9 0.159
0.19 0.25 0.2 3.4 2.0 2.5 2.6 11 0.118
0.38 0.59 2.7 2.6 1.1 1.4 1.6 14 0.112
0.83 1.2 10.7 0.7 0.6 1.0 0.8 17 0.040
1.5 2.0 19.2 0.8 0.7 0.5 0.7 20 0.052
2.8 4.0 29.2 0.3 0.3 0.2 0.3 10 0.0086
5.7 8.0 37.2 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. ~ 0 ~ 0
Bulk soil 100% 90% 80% 1.0 5.7 0.018
Table 9.4. Average splash length () and absolute detachability (D
20,i
) and transportability
(T
20,i
) by rain splash for different aggregate size classes on the sub-horizontal terrace bed in
late 1999.
CHAPTER 9 - RAIN SPLASH ON BENCH TERRACES
162
9.3.3. Splash box and runoff trough measurements on terrace risers
At the beginning of the rainy season in December 1998, it was observed that large
amounts of sediment were splashed from the terrace risers onto the runoff guide of the
collector, and these eventually ended up in the runoff trough. Corresponding runoff
volumes in the trough were rather small (see below), suggesting that most of the
sediment was indeed splashed. Despite the fact that the runoff guide was positioned in
such a way as to prevent rain from falling directly onto it (Fig. 9.1), the amount of splash
into the trough was probably affected somewhat by the splash box interfering with falling
rain drops. Therefore, the amounts of sediment collected in the trough were not used
when fitting Eq. [9.4] to the measurements. However, the observed total amounts of
sediment transported, including those ending up in the trough, were compared with the
amounts of splash transport estimated using Eq. [9.3] in combination with the derived
values of (minimum) downslope splash length and apparent detachability. In the
1999/2000 rainy season, the splash box directly abutted the riser face and the amounts of
sediment caught in the first compartment could in principle be used when fitting Eq.
[9.4], although this would also include contributions by processes other than splash, such
as wash and movement by gravity. In this case too, therefore, the amounts of sediment
measured in the first compartment were not used when fitting Eq. [9.4] to the data, also
to enable direct comparison of results obtained in the two different rainy seasons. The
influence of including or excluding sediment caught in the first compartment in the
calculations was investigated. It appeared that excluding these measurements lowered
estimated total transport rates by about 6% to 20% (13% on average). Also, the inferred
(minimum) average splash length increased by 3-10% (6% on average), while estimated
detachment rates were 9-29% lower (18% on average).
Table 9.5 lists the total amounts of sediment transported from the terrace risers into
the combined splash box / runoff trough for the respective sampling periods. Measured
% = 0.73 d
50
-0.89
r
2
= 0.97
0
1
10
0.1 1 10
d
50
(mm)
%

(
c
m
)
bare
cropped
cropped and mulched
Fig. 9.3. Average splash length () for different aggregate-size classes (represented by
median size d
50
) as calculated from the results of splash cup experiments in late 1999.
CHAPTER 9 - RAIN SPLASH ON BENCH TERRACES
163
Period P
mm
E
20
kJm
-2
q
g m
-1
Q
l m
-1

cm
D
20
g J
-1
T
20
g m J
-1
Obs./estim.
q
1998/99, Terrace C (40-)
Device I II I II I II I II I II I II
1 65 1.08 779 269 0 0 8.6 7.9 10.8 9.9 0.29 0.25 245% 99%
2 117 1.70 2015 930 0 0 9.6 10.1 21.9 23.1 0.67 0.74 178% 74%
3 152 1.61 1056 629 13 7 10.1 9.1 17.3 20.3 0.55 0.59 119% 67%
4 158 1.49 392 532 11 2 13.1 12.3 6.2 11.8 0.26 0.46 102% 77%
5 12 0.09 63 158 0 0 11.0 12.9 9.0 10.5 0.32 0.43 214% 391%
6 101 1.22 656 1596 8 14 11.9 12.9 8.2 9.5 0.31 0.39 173% 336%
7 90 1.62 931 1769 19 19 14.6 13.8 9.7 22.4 0.45 0.99 127% 111%
8 121 0.77 311 679 4 11 13.8 12.5 10.5 26.9 0.46 1.07 87% 82%
9 192 3.51 n.a. n.a. 29 22 12.6 12.4 5.1 5.9 0.20 0.23 n.a. n.a.
Total 1006 13.09 6204 6561 83 74 11.7 11.5 11.0 15.6 0.39 0.57 147% 107%
1998/99, Terrace F (36-)
Device III IV III IV III IV III IV III IV III IV
1 67 1.07 555 538 0 0 11.6 14.8 9.5 5.9 0.35 0.28 148% 180%
2 128 2.02 889 715 0 0 8.8 9.5 15.1 17.6 0.42 0.53 104% 67%
3 146 1.31 n.a. n.a. 30 20 9.8 10.1 35.8 37.5 1.11 1.20 n.a. n.a.
4 160 1.49 659 1644 11 17 13.0 14.6 12.0 18.0 0.50 0.84 89% 132%
5 12 0.09 186 369 0 2 12.6 16.0 22.5 22.8 0.91 1.16 220% 340%
6 101 1.22 269 1045 6 13 14.0 10.9 2.8 6.0 0.12 0.21 179% 409%
7 90 1.62 143 502 9 13 14.0 12.0 2.3 5.2 0.10 0.20 87% 154%
8 121 0.77 106 342 2 14 13.8 11.9 1.9 4.4 0.08 0.17 166% 268%
9 192 3.72 n.a. n.a. 15 14 12.3 n.a. 4.1 n.a. 0.16 n.a. n.a. n.a.
Total 1017 13.31 2807 5155 72 94 12.2 12.5 11.8 14.7 0.42 0.57 115% 150%
1999/2000, Terrace F (30-)
Device I II I II I II I II I II
1 204 3.4 1913 2046 n.a. n.a. 6.6 6.3 25.4 27.0 0.53 0.54 106% 111%
2 78 1.2 298 207 n.a. n.a. 6.7 7.4 10.9 7.2 0.23 0.17 110% 104%
3 44 0.5 213 133 n.a. n.a. 6.3 8.2 22.0 10.7 0.44 0.28 105% 103%
Total 326 5.0 2425 2387 n.a. n.a. 6.5 7.3 21.7 20.9 0.45 0.43 106% 110%
Table 9.5. Results of splash box / runoff trough experiments on terrace risers in 1998/99 and
1999/2000. Listed for each sampling period are rainfall (P), erosivity (E
20
), transport (q), runoff
depth (Q), average splash length (), detachability (D
20
), transportability (T
20
) and the ratio of
observed over estimated transport. Codes I to IV refer to individual devices, see text for
explanation. n.a.=not available.
CHAPTER 9 - RAIN SPLASH ON BENCH TERRACES
164
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
18
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Sample interval
%

(
c
m
)
(a)
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Sample interval

D
2
0

(
g

J
-
1
)
(b)
0.0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1.0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Sample interval
T
2
0

(
g

m

J
-
1
)
(c)
Fig 9.4. Temporal changes in (a) minimum average downslope splash length () (b) apparent
detachability (D
20
) and (c) transportability (T
20
) on 36-40- riser sections of terraces C and F in
the 1998/99 rainy season. Note that sampling interval 3 and 4 were separated by three weeks
during which no measurements were made (see text).
CHAPTER 9 - RAIN SPLASH ON BENCH TERRACES
165
sediment transport rates include sediment collected in the runoff trough for the 1998/99
rainy season and that in the first compartment for the 1999/2000 season. Amounts of
rainfall and estimates of erosivity (E
20
) have been added in Table 9.5, along with
amounts of runoff (in l m
-1
riser face length) for the 1998/99 observations. From these,
sediment transportability and detachability were derived, together with estimates of
(minimum) downslope splash length, by fitting Eq. [9.4] to measured amounts of
sediment in the different compartments (excluding the trough or first compartment, for
the 1998/99 and 1999/2000 data, respectively). Finally, Table 9.5 lists the ratios between
observed transport rates (including the runoff trough or first compartment) and transport
rates estimated by Eq. [9.3] using derived splash lengths and detachment rates.
In all cases, Eq. [9.4] fitted very well to measured amounts of material per splash
box compartment (r
2
>0.98 in all cases). Overall measured sediment transport rates over
the 72-76 day measurement period in the 1998/99 rainy season were between 2.8 and 6.6
kg m
-1
(excluding selected sampling intervals for which sediment could not be measured
in all compartments, cf. Table 9.5), resulting in overall transportability values of 0.39-
0.57 g m J
-1
. However, transportability values calculated for individual sampling
intervals exhibited a much larger range (0.08-1.20 g m J
-1
). In Fig. 9.4, average values
and ranges of transportability, apparent detachability and minimum average splash length
are shown for each consecutive interval. After an initial increase during the first three
sampling intervals, there appeared to be a gradual decrease of transportability from about
0.6 g m J
-1
to about 0.1 g m J
-1
, although variability was high (Fig. 9.4a). A similar
pattern was observed for detachability, which peaked at a relatively high value of about
20 g J
-1
during the third sampling interval and decreased irregularly to about 5 g J
-1
thereafter (Fig. 9.4b). In the 1999/2000 measuring period, the measured rate of transport
into both splash boxes was 2.4 kg m
-1
in 21 days. Transportability values for individual
sampling ranged from 0.17 to 0.54 g m J
-1
, with an overall average of 0.440.01 g m J
-1
(Table 9.5). Apparent detachability values calculated using Eq. [9.4] ranged between 1.9
and 37.5 g J
-1
for individual sampling intervals in 1998/99, whereas in 1999/2000 they
were 7.2 to 27.0 g J
-1
. Average D
20
values over the entire measurement period varied
between 11.0 and 15.6 g J
-1
in 1998/99 and 20.9-21.7 g J
-1
in 1999/2000 (Table 9.5).
The minimum average splash length did not show a clear trend during the 1998/99
measurement period, but there seems to be a distinct difference between the first three
intervals (~10 cm) and later intervals (~13 cm; Fig. 9.4c). These two groups are
separated by a period of 21-26 days during which no measurements were made.
Conversely, inferred minimum average splash lengths were considerably lower on the
more gentle (30-) riser face that was measured in the 1999/2000 rainy season (6.3-8.2
cm).
The minimum average splash length (), uncorrected transportability (T
20
) and
apparent detachability (D
20
) for different aggregate size classes as derived from splash
measurements in 1998/99 and 1999/2000 are listed in Table 9.6, together with estimated
values of absolute transportability (T
20,i
) and detachability (D
20,i
) per size class. The
average values of minimum and T
20,i
and D
20,i
are plotted against size class median
values in Fig. 9.5 a, b and c, respectively. There appears to be a relationship between
aggregate size and minimum splash length that differs between slope angles. The
1998/99 data (36-40- riser slope) show a decrease in minimum splash length, from 11.1
cm for the smallest aggregates (less than 0.18 mm) to less than 6.2 cm for the largest
recorded ones (2.8-4.0 mm). The splash length of aggregates larger than 4 mm diameter
could not be evaluated because these did not reach the splash box. The decrease of splash
CHAPTER 9 - RAIN SPLASH ON BENCH TERRACES
166
length with aggregate size was more dramatic for the 1999/2000 data (slope ca. 30-): viz.
from about 11.9 cm (i.e. comparable to values obtained in the previous year) for the
smallest aggregates, to 2.8 cm for the size class of 2-4 mm. Once again, larger aggregates
did not splash beyond the first compartment and therefore the associated splash length
could not be calculated, as a minimum of two measurements are needed to solve Eq.
[9.4]. As expected, the inferred minimum splash lengths for a sub-horizontal terrace bed
(3- slope) were much lower (Fig. 9.5a, Table 9.4).
There also appears to be an inverse relationship between aggregate size and absolute
detachability (Fig. 9.5b). The 1998/99 results were more variable than the 1999/2000
data, because the former only represented a single sampling occasion for one splash box
versus two boxes and two sample intervals in 1999/2000. Looking at the measurements
made on a 30- riser slope in 1999/2000 first, it appears that the average value of absolute
detachability (D
20,i
) decreases steadily from 127 g J
-1
for the smallest particles (<0.15
mm) to 11 g J
-1
for aggregates of 2-4 mm, with presumably still smaller values for larger
aggregates (Fig. 9.5b, Table 9.7). The 1998/99 data (36-40- slope) show a similar trend,
although overall values are generally higher, particularly for smaller size classes (Fig.
9.5b, Table 9.7). Average values of absolute apparent transportability (T
20,i
) calculated
Aggregate size class
median.
d
50
(mm)
upper limit
(mm)
weight
fraction
(%)
Min.
(cm)
D
20
(g J
-1
)
T
20
(g m J
-1
)
D
20,i
(g J
-1
)
T
20,i
(g m J
-1
)
1998/99 (40- riser section)
0.11 0.15 0.5 11.1 2.4 0.085 532 19
0.21 0.25 0.3 10.2 1.3 0.043 410 13
0.32 0.42 1.5 10.3 1.1 0.035 71 2.3
0.50 0.59 1.2 10.2 2.4 0.078 200 6.5
0.70 0.8 3.4 9.2 1.6 0.048 48 1.4
1.0 1.2 7.2 8.8 2.0 0.056 27 0.77
1.5 2.0 19.2 8.4 1.6 0.043 8.4 0.23
2.4 2.8 10.7 6.8 1.3 0.028 12 0.26
3.3 4.0 18.5 6.2 0.1 0.001 0.40 0.0078
5.7 8.0 37.2 ? ? ? ? ?
Bulk soil 100% 9.8 13.4 0.42
1999/2000 (30- riser section)
0.11 0.15 0.5 11.9 0.6 0.022 127 4.8
0.19 0.25 0.6 10.6 0.7 0.023 113 3.7
0.38 0.59 2.7 9.7 2.1 0.061 78 2.2
0.83 1.2 10.7 7.0 4.1 0.088 38 0.8
1.5 2.0 19.2 4.5 3.9 0.054 20 0.3
2.8 4.0 29.2 2.8 3.3 0.029 11 0.1
5.7 8.0 37.2 ? ? ? ? ?
Bulk soil 100% 7.2 12.67 0.41
Table 9.6. Minimum average splash length (), uncorrected and absolute apparent
detachability (D
20
and D
20,i
) and transportability (T
20
and T
20,i
) for different aggregate size
classes for 40- and 30- riser sections (1998/99 and 1999/2000 data, respectively).
CHAPTER 9 - RAIN SPLASH ON BENCH TERRACES
167
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
0.1 1 10
d
50
(mm)
%

(
c
m
)
(a)
40
o
30
o
3
o
0.1
1
10
100
1000
0.1 1 10
d
50
(mm)
D
2
0
,
i

(
g

J
-
1
)
(b)
40
o
30
o
3
o
0.001
0.01
0.1
1
10
100
0.1 1 10
d
50
(mm)
T
2
0
,
i

(
g

m

J
-
1
)
(c)
40
o
30
o
3
o
Fig. 9.5. Relationships between aggregate size (indicated by class median, d
50
) and (a)
(minimum) average splash length () (b) absolute apparent detachability (D
20,i
), and (c)
absolute transportability (T
20,i
) for different slope angles. The 40- and 30- data pertain to
terrace riser sections monitored in 1998/99 and 1999/2000, respectively. Values derived from
splash cup measurements on a 3- terrace bed made in late 1999 (Table 9.4) are added for
comparison.
CHAPTER 9 - RAIN SPLASH ON BENCH TERRACES
168
from the 1999/2000 data exhibit the same pattern as for detachability and decrease about
50-fold, from 4.8 g m J
-1
for particles smaller than 0.15 mm to 0.1 g m J
-1
for aggregates
of 2-4 mm. The 1998/99 data show a similar trend as for 1999/2000, although the
variability is higher due to the cited lack of replicated sampling (Fig. 9.5c, Table 9.6).
9.4. Discussion
9.4.1. Splash length
Average minimum (downslope) splash length increased with slope angle. For the
bulk soil, increased from less than 1 cm on the sub-horizontal terrace beds (Table 9.4),
via 6.5-7.3 cm on a 30- terrace riser slope, to 11.5-12.5 cm on a 40- riser slope (Table
9.5, cf. Fig. 9.5a). It should be remembered that the latter two ranges must be considered
minimum values, because the splash box was not parallel to the riser face. The splash
lengths obtained for the nearly horizontal terrace beds are rather low compared with
values reported in the literature. However, the latter were often derived in a different
way. For example, Poesen and Savat (1981) used splash trays for nine different, non-
aggregated soil textures varying from silt to sand (mean diameters from 32 to 600 m)
that were exposed to artificial rainfall (ca. 36 mm h
-1
) and found average splash lengths
to gradually decrease with increasing grain size, from about 20 cm to 11 cm. In a
subsequent field study and using splash cups on an aggregated Belgian silt loam, Poesen
and Torri (1988) inferred much shorter splash lengths (around 6.0 cm). Re-interpreting
the data of Poesen and Torri using the splash distribution theory that is used here yielded
a still lower value of 3.5 cm (Chapter 8). Poesen and Savat (1981) concluded that
aggregate size is more important in determining splash length than the primary particle
size and this notion is substantiated by the clear relationship between aggregate size and
splash length found in the present study, both on (sub-)horizontal (Fig. 9.3) and steeper
surfaces (Fig. 9.5a). The present results may have been influenced slightly by the fact
that the aggregates were air-dried before sieving, but overall a clear decrease of splash
length with aggregate size was observed. On the terrace bed, splash length decreased
from 6.6 cm for aggregates or grains smaller than 0.15 mm to less than 1 cm for
aggregates larger than 0.59 mm (Table 9.4). For aggregates larger than 2 mm, the
inferred splash lengths were in the order of millimetres, but interpretation in these cases
was rendered difficult because the average splash length was small compared with the
cup sizes that were used. Strictly speaking, the splash distribution theory advanced in
Chapter 8 cannot be used for such short splash lengths. This theory assumes that the
distribution of splashed particles varies exponentially with distance from the centre of the
rain drop impact. However, an impact crater is formed where the rain drop hits the soil
and at this point soil is removed by the splash rather than deposited (Ghadiri and Payne,
1988). The size of the impact crater is also in the order of several millimetres and,
consequently, the distribution theory cannot be applied when the average splash length
has the same order of magnitude (cf. Chapter 8). Splash length on a horizontal surface is
controlled by the mass and initial splash angle and velocity of the ejected particles. Al-
Durrah and Bradford (1982) showed that splash angle is related to soil shear strength and
cohesion and these differ between soils. The same is true with respect to the density of
aggregates. Therefore, it is questionable whether a uniform relationship between
aggregate size and splash length can be expected for different soil types.
CHAPTER 9 - RAIN SPLASH ON BENCH TERRACES
169
The general increase in bulk splash length with slope angle (Fig. 9.5a) was caused
mainly by aggregates in the 0.6-4 mm size range (Tables 9.4, 9.6 and 9.7). Not only did
these aggregates represent a large fraction of the soil (59%, versus 4% for finer and 37%
for coarser aggregates, respectively), but the change in splash length was also most
pronounced for this (composite) size class. For example, the splash length of soil
particles in the smallest size class (less than 0.15 mm) increased from 6.6 cm on a sub-
horizontal surface (Table 9.4) to more than 11.9 cm on a slope of 40- (Table 9.6), i.e. an
increase of ca. 1.8 times. Aggregates of 0.6-1.2 mm, on the other hand, showed an
increase from about 0.8 cm to at least 9.0 cm (Table 9.6), i.e. an increase of more than
eleven times. Conversely, aggregates larger than 4 mm did not seem to be splashed far at
any slope angle, although absolute data are lacking in this respect. Some coarse
aggregates were found at times in the runoff trough in 1998/99 and in the first
compartment in 1999/2000, which suggests that transport of such large aggregates does
occur occasionally. Their movement may well be driven by splash-creep (cf.
Moeyersons, 1975) and gravity.
There were some indications to suggest that canopy cover and soil contact cover
reduced overall splash lengths on the terrace beds (Table 9.4). This corresponds with the
findings of Riezebos and Epema (1985), who conducted laboratory experiments with 5.5
mm drops falling from different heights on cups filled with sand. Drops falling over 13
m, close to reaching their terminal velocity produced an average splash length of 21.1
cm, while the same drops falling from a height of 1 m were associated with an average
value of only 7.4 cm. These findings suggest that splash lengths are likely to be reduced
by a vegetation canopy (with consequences for splash transportability and derived
detachment rates), although the effect will be moderated by the fact that (i) natural
rainfall even in the tropics is dominated by much smaller drops than the 5.5 mm used by
Riezebos and Epema (1985), and, (ii) intercepted rainfall dripping from vegetation is
known to exhibit a different drop size distribution (e.g. Vis, 1986; Brandt, 1988). The
effect could not be evaluated in the present study, however, because of the short splash
lengths observed and the associated uncertainty in interpretation (cf. Chapter 8).
9.4.2. Factors affecting splash detachment
The detachability values (D
20
) derived from the present splash cup experiments on
the terrace beds were influenced by the fact that splash length was not known exactly,
whereas the use of isotropic theory in the splash box experiments on the terrace risers
produced overestimates of detachability. To test the influence of errors in estimated
splash lengths on the magnitude of predicted detachability in the case of the splash cup
experiments, the calculations were repeated for splash lengths that were increased or
decreased by 50%. For an average splash length of 1.5 cm (+50%), calculated
detachment rates, and therefore D
20
values, were 26-27% lower, while using an average
splash length of 0.5 cm (-50%) led to D
20
values that were 87-89% higher.
Transportability was affected much less because the higher detachability was
compensated by the lower splash length (cf. Eq. [9.2]); values being 10-11% higher and
6-7% lower, after a 50% in- and decrease of , respectively.
Despite the problems discussed above, the presently derived detachability values and
the temporal patterns therein are similar for both types of experiment (Tables 9.2 and
9.5). At the beginning of the cropping season, which coincides with the beginning of the
rainy season, soil detachability was high and decreased as the wet season progressed,
CHAPTER 9 - RAIN SPLASH ON BENCH TERRACES
170
both on the terrace beds (Tables 9.2 and 9.3) and risers (Table 9.5). Estimated
detachability for the first few sampling intervals was typically 10-20 g J
-1
on the terrace
beds and 6-38 g J
-1
on the terrace risers. Subsequently, the detachability of bare soil
gradually decreased to about 4 g J
-1
on the bare terrace bed after 331 mm of rain (22
storms) in four weeks in late 1999 (Table 9.3). On the terrace risers, the temporal
changes in detachability seemed much more variable and overall showed a less distinct
decrease (Table 9.5). The latter is probably explained by the high transport rates
prevailing on the steep risers, which tend to counteract the formation of a protective
pavement of coarse aggregates, as was observed on the terrace beds. Wiegman (1999)
reported that when this pavement was carefully removed, new aggregates were again
rapidly formed from the crusted layer beneath. These new aggregates had a smaller
median size than the aggregates forming the original pavement and can therefore be
expected to be more detachable. At the same time, the absence of a pavement on the
terrace risers probably caused the soil to dry out more easily, which was also shown to
enhance the formation of new aggregates (Wiegman, 1999). Additional variability will be
related to the fact that farmers occasionally pulled weeds from the risers, as occurred for
instance during the fifth sampling interval in February 1999 (cf. Table 9.5). Apart from
the effect on observed transport rates, this also loosened the soil and may well be
responsible for the temporarily increased soil detachability (Table 9.5).
The initial increase and subsequent gradual decrease of detachment rates observed
by the present study agree well with the results of laboratory tray experiments on a
comparable well-aggregated volcanic oxisol from Hawaii by Sutherland et al. (1996), as
well as with other studies such as that by Truman and Bradford (1990). Sutherland et al.
(1996) distinguished four separate phases in the process of splash on a sloping soil.
During the first two phases, the impact of drops on the dry soil, combined with
decreasing soil strength because of increasing moisture content, causes slaking and
breakdown of aggregates and increases detachability. After this, the resistance of the soil
surface to detachment increases because of compaction, formation of a less erodible
pavement and other surface processes and finally, a resistant seal may cover large areas
of the soil and a more or less steady-state situation is reached. Sutherland et al. (1996)
also observed that such a steady state was not reached on an artificial slope of 20-, where
the continuous downslope transport of sediment prevents formation of a protective layer.
Again, such findings agree closely with the temporal patterns observed in the present
study (cf. Fig. 9.4b).
It is difficult to compare the approximate D
20
values calculated from the present
experiments with values reported in the literature. One reason for this is that the methods
used to calculate rainfall kinetic energy differ between studies. Relationships between
kinetic energy fluxes and rainfall intensity vary and a rainfall intensity threshold value
similar to that used in the present study is not often used. Moreover, results of splash
experiments frequently have been interpreted erroneously, leading to wrong estimates of
detachment rate (see Chapter 8 for a detailed discussion). Poesen and Torri (1988)
observed that an exponential relationship between splash cup size and the ratio of
splashed sediment to cup area fitted their field measurements rather well and they used
this same relationship to correct detachment resistance values (i.e. the inverse of
detachability) in other studies elsewhere. The authors acknowledged that, strictly
speaking, this was not permitted because such a correction depends on soil-specific
splash lengths, but they argued that the corrected values would still be in the right order
of magnitude. Taking the corrected detachability values reported by Poesen and Torri
(1988) at face value, one derives values of 1-5 g J
-1
in most cases, with extreme values of
CHAPTER 9 - RAIN SPLASH ON BENCH TERRACES
171
0.19 g J
-1
for a stony silty clay with 60% stone cover, and 10 g J
-1
for fine sand in the
U.K (Morgan, 1977). By comparison, the D
20
values obtained in the present study are at
the higher end of this range: 11.0-21.7 g J
-1
at maximum for the risers (Table 9.5) and 5.7
g J
-1
for the bare terrace bed soil (Table 9.4). It should be kept in mind that these values
were calculated by dividing measured detachment rates by rainfall erosivity for
intensities exceeding 20 mm h
-1
(E
20
), however. If total rainfall kinetic energy had been
used, the resulting values would be 25-39% lower (cf. Table 9.1). Summarising, it is
concluded that the studied volcanic soil is rather easily detachable compared with the soil
types reported in Poesen and Torri (1988).
Fig. 9.5b shows the relationship between aggregate size and absolute detachability
(D
20,i
), calculated as the ratio of detachability to the fraction of soil contributed by each
particular size class. Although oven-dried samples were used to derive the aggregate size
distributions, which may have introduced some errors (in particular for the smaller size
classes), nevertheless some interesting patterns emerge. The apparent detachability of
small aggregates strongly increases with slope, whereas that of large aggregates remains
in the same order of magnitude (Fig. 9.5b). This phenomenon may well be related to the
coarse pavement that was seen to form on the terrace beds (Wiegman, 1999). As a result,
the fraction of small aggregates exposed on the bed surface was smaller than its
corresponding fraction in the bulk soil. Because the latter was used to calculate absolute
detachability, this resulted in a correspondingly smaller detachability value. In the
absence of a protective pavement on the steep risers, the detachability values calculated
for small aggregates were much higher. Detachability values calculated for the 36-40-
slope (1998/99 data) were by and large somewhat higher than for the 30- slope
(1999/2000 data; Table 9.5), but it should be remembered that the 1998/99 data represent
a small sample, which also explains their greater variability (Fig. 9.5b). For progressively
larger aggregates, detachability decreased rapidly and it is possible that very large
aggregates may even have been pushed along by impacting rain drops, without actually
losing contact with the soil surface.
Given the strong contrasts between aggregate size-detachability relationships on the
terrace riser and bed, respectively (Fig. 9.5b), it may seem surprising that D
20
values for
the bulk soil are still rather similar (Tables 9.4 and 9.5). The main reason for this is that
the soil was dominated by larger aggregates, 93% being coarser than 0.84 mm in air-dry
soil (56% in wet-sieved soil). As shown in Fig. 9.5b, the respective relationships tend to
converge around a diameter of about 1 mm. By contrast, the experiments of Wan et al.
(1996) on a comparable well-aggregated volcanic oxisol in Hawaii suggested an increase
in soil detachability with slope. The aggregates of the soil they studied were considerably
smaller (only 21% coarser than 1 mm in wet-sieved soil), which goes some way towards
explaining the difference with the presently found results.
An estimated splash length of 1 cm was used to calculate soil detachment rates and
corresponding D
20
values for the three terrace beds with different treatments (bare,
cropped, cropped plus mulched) in late 1999 (Table 9.3). The results are shown in Figs.
9.6a and b. The effects of the developing plant cover and mulch application are readily
recognisable in the results. At the beginning of the observations, when the crops were
just sown or planted and still little developed, detachment rates on the bare and cropped
plots were very similar. During later stages, the protective effect of the crop canopy
became apparent and detachment was reduced almost proportionally to the remaining
fraction of uncovered soil. When 33% and 20% of the soil remained uncovered,
respectively, detachment rates were down to 38% and 25% of detachment under bare
conditions (Fig. 9.6a). Mati (1994) measured splash transport under maize and beans in
CHAPTER 9 - RAIN SPLASH ON BENCH TERRACES
172
Kenya and also found weak, more or less linear or slightly exponential inverse
relationships between splash transport and crop canopy cover. Detachment rates on the
cropped bed in the 1998/99 rainy season showed a pattern similar to that in late 1999.
When cumulative kinetic energy (E
20
) and detachment rates were plotted for the two
seasons, an almost identical pattern resulted (Fig. 9.6b), which supports the overall
pattern described earlier of a gradual reduction in detachment as the crops develop and a
protective pavement is formed.
0
5
10
15
20
25
1 2 3 4
Period
D
2
0

(
g

J
-
1
)
cropped
cropped and mulched
bare
(a)
0
20
40
60
80
0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000
Cumulative E
20
(J m
-2
)
C
u
m
u
l
a
t
i
v
e

:

(
k
g

m
-
2
)
99 cropped 99 mulched
99 bare 98 cropped
(b)
Fig. 9.6. Temporal changes in detachability as observed on the terrace beds. (a) Detachability
(D
20
) for four subsequent sampling intervals on a 3- terrace bed in late 1999 on (i) bare soil,
(ii) soil with mixed crops and (iii) soil with mulch and crops. (b) Cumulative rainfall erosivity
(E
20
) versus soil detachment () by rain splash on the terrace bed in late 1998 on a cropped
bed and in late 1999 on a bare, a cropped and a cropped plus mulched plot.
CHAPTER 9 - RAIN SPLASH ON BENCH TERRACES
173
By comparison, the effect of the 45-47% mulch cover was quite dramatic although it
became gradually less effective (Fig. 9.6a). Detachment in the case of mulching was only
16% of that on the cropped plot during the first sampling interval, but increased to 50%
during the third interval, while detachment on the mulched plot was even slightly higher
than that on the cropped plot during the last interval (Fig. 9.6a). This probably relates to
the gradual decomposition and burial of the mulch, which increased the area of soil
exposed to rainfall. The strong effect of mulching observed during the first sampling
interval (Fig. 9.6a) was comparable with results obtained with splash and wash trays
filled with the same soil and exposed to rainfall reported upon in Chapter 10. In
agreement with the findings of Laflen and Colvin (1981), it was found that the
relationship between mulch cover fraction (MC) and relative soil detachment, i.e.
expressed as a fraction of the detachment of bare soil (the mulch factor MF), was
described well by an exponential function:
) exp( aMC MF [9.5]
where a is an empirical coefficient. When the measured mulch cover fraction of 0.45-
0.47 and a mulch factor of 0.16 (cf. Table 9.3) are substituted in this expression, a values
of 3.9-4.1 result. This is close to the value of 4.4 obtained with tray experiments (Chapter
10) and well within the range of 3-7 suggested by Morgan (1985).
9.4.3. Sediment transportability and transport rates
Many of the observations made in the previous section about the temporal patterns in
detachability also apply to transportability (T
20
). After all, the relationship between soil
detachability and transportability is governed by average splash length (Eqs. [9.2] and
[9.3]) and these did not change much during the experiments (Fig. 9.4c), or was assumed
constant, as in the splash cup experiments. Overall T
20
values of bare soil on the terrace
beds were in the order of 0.03-0.06 g m J
-1
(or 33-59 g m kJ
-1
) at the start of the cropping
season in both years, decreasing to about 0.01 g m J
-1
(11 g m kJ
-1
) after six weeks in late
1999. Transportability by splash on the risers was greater by one or two orders of
magnitude, predominantly because of the greater splash lengths (cf. Table 9.4 versus
Table 9.5). Riser material transportability decreased from about 0.2-0.5 g m J
-1
at the
start of the cropping season to 0.08-0.23 g m J
-1
after about two months (Table 9.5).
Total sediment transport on the terrace risers was often considerably higher than
amounts estimated on the basis of splash measurements alone. Therefore, to calculate T
20
values for the risers, the amounts of sediment ending up in the compartment closest to the
riser face (i.e. the trough in the 1998/99 experiments and the first splash box
compartment in 1999/2000) were not taken into account. These compartments also
contained sediment that was transported downslope by processes other than rain splash,
such as wash, rolling and splash-driven creep (cf. Moeyersons, 1975). The overall effect
of these additional processes can be evaluated by comparing observed total sediment
transport rates with splash-based transport rates. The ratio of the two amounts is listed in
the right-hand column of Table 9.5. For the entire experimental period during the
1998/99 season, about 7-50 % of the total sediment transport was unaccounted for by
splash. In 1999/2000, when the splash box was in contact with the riser face, this was 6-
10%. For individual measuring intervals, the ratio between total observed and splash-
CHAPTER 9 - RAIN SPLASH ON BENCH TERRACES
174
based transport rates ranged between 67% and 409% in 1998/99 and between 103% and
111% in 1999/2000. Some of this variability is probably related to the disturbing effect of
the splash box itself. Small dams of accumulated splash sediment were seen to form near
the apron of the trough because rainfall was intercepted by the overhanging splash box
(cf. Fig. 9.1) and this affected the onward transport of sediment into the trough.
In comparative investigations of soil splash and wash processes on the same soil in
tray experiments similar to those of Sutherland et al. (1996), but under natural rainfall
(Chapter 10) it was found that on a tray at 40-, an estimated 8% of total downslope
transported sediment was carried by runoff, with an overall runoff coefficient of 11% and
an average sediment concentration of 8.6 g l
-1
. In the current study, runoff coefficients for
the 1998 experiment period were very similar at 11-14%. If the same runoff sediment
concentration is assumed, the total amount of sediment transport by runoff would amount
to 620-808 g m
-1
for the sampling intervals during which total transport was measured, or
10-22% of the total sediment transport. Thus, transport by runoff probably explains some
of the additional transport that was observed. However, the period intervals during which
most additional transport occurred showed little or no runoff at all (Table 9.5) and,
therefore, the difference has to be contributed by other processes, such as splash-creep
and rolling. The latter may be particularly important, because it appeared that additional
sediment fluxes were greatest at the start of the measurement period and during the fifth
and sixth sampling intervals (Table 9.5). It was observed that the soil was relatively dry
at the beginning of the rainy season and aggregates were more easily detached. During
the fifth sampling interval, the risers were weeded and this also loosened up the soil, part
of which rolled down the riser and into the collecting trough.
The splash box cum runoff trough devices yielded measurements of total downslope
transport. Strictly speaking, this is principally different from the net or effective
downslope transport of sediment, which is expressed as the difference between
downslope and upslope transport. However, in the soil tray experiments dealt with in
Chapter 10, upslope transport rates by rain splash on a 40- slope were three orders of
magnitude lower than total downslope transport rates, whether including or excluding
contributions by wash. Similarly, upslope splash transport was only 3% of downslope
splash on a slope of 15-. Therefore, downslope sediment transport rates that were
measured on the risers can be considered accurate estimates of net downslope transport
as well.
The general form of the relationship between aggregate size and transportability was
similar for all slopes, with transportability being higher for smaller aggregate sizes.
However, for particle sizes below ca. 1 mm, a difference of more than an order of
magnitude existed between the terrace bed and the two risers (Fig. 9.5c). The most
important reason for this is the difference in detachability of bed and riser soils, because
average splash lengths for this size class differ by about a factor two (Fig. 9.5a). As
aggregate size increases, the relative difference in splash length increases (Fig. 9.5a) but
the difference in detachability becomes smaller (Fig. 9.5b) and, as a result, the
transportability curves gradually converge (Fig. 9.5c).
CHAPTER 9 - RAIN SPLASH ON BENCH TERRACES
175
9.5. Concluding remarks
9.5.1. Implications for erosion process modelling
The results of the present experiments provide further insights that can be used in
conceptual models of erosion and sediment transport on bench terraces. It appeared that
sediment produced on the terrace risers was transported mainly by rain splash, with a
complementary role for splash-creep and gravitational transport processes (Table 9.5).
When the transportability rates derived in this study are combined with the dimensions of
the terraces and yearly rainfall data, the annual soil loss through rain splash from these
terrace risers may be estimated. For example, assuming an average transportability value
of 0.39-0.57 g m J
-1
(Table 9.5), an average annual rainfall of 2640 mm and an average
rainfall erosivity (E
20
) of 13.0-15.4 J m
-2
mm
-1
(Table 9.1) yields an estimated annual
sediment transport by rain splash of 13-23 kg m
-1
. An estimated additional 0.8-12 kg m
-1
will be transported by mechanisms other than splash (cf. Table 9.5), giving a total of 14-
35 kg m
-1
. Needless to say, these numbers should be regarded as approximate only, yet
they compare well with annual sediment yields from riser sections as measured
previously in the study catchment. For example, during the 1994/95 and 1995/96 rainy
seasons, overall erosion rates of 23-41 kg m
-2
were derived from the withdrawal rates of
four unvegetated terrace risers with a projected width of 0.75-1.1 m, corresponding to
transport rates of 26-41 kg m
-1
(Purwanto and Bruijnzeel, 1998). This sediment
accumulates in the toe drain running along the foot of the riser, where part of it is picked
up by runoff and carried off the field.
By contrast, the terrace beds provide much less sediment to the toe drain through
splash, because the associated splash lengths are much shorter at ca. 1 cm. For the same
average range of conditions cited earlier, but now using the detachment rates inferred
from the splash cup studies (4-5 g J
-1
, cf. Tables 9.2 and 9.3) and an average splash
length of 1 cm, the annual amount of sediment transported from a horizontal terrace bed
into the toe drain is in the order of 0.4-0.7 kg m
-1
. Clearly, such amounts are very small
compared with the amount of sediment produced on the risers. However, contributions of
sediment by runoff will be more significant on the bed and, in addition, the terrace beds
usually have a slight gradient and are separated from the toe drain by a slight but steep
ramp, all of which tend to increase sediment production rates on the beds. Indirect
estimates of bed erosion (i.e. subtracting riser contributions from total sediment yields
from individual terrace units) were made previously at the study site by Purwanto and
Bruijnzeel (1998). They suggested overall sediment contributions from the terrace beds
of 8-22 kg m
-1
(or ca. 3-7 kg m
-2
), representing 0-37% of total soil loss from the entire
terrace.
The present study demonstrated that, at least on the terrace risers, the transportability
of small soil aggregates was orders of magnitude greater than that of large aggregates
(Fig. 9.5c). This has implications for the onward transport of sediment accumulating in
the toe drain; sediment eroded from the terrace risers will be enriched in smaller
aggregates and therefore more easily transported by runoff. Summarising, it is concluded
that the currently gained understanding of splash processes contributes to the conceptual
description of erosion and sediment transport processes on bench-terraced well-
aggregated oxisols. Any model that aims to simulate erosion in terraced steeplands
therefore will have to include rain splash.
CHAPTER 9 - RAIN SPLASH ON BENCH TERRACES
176
9.5.2. Implications for future experimental studies of rain splash
The present study demonstrates that a combination of splash experiments and a
consistent theory for the interpretation of the measurements is capable of yielding
considerable insights in splash detachment and transport processes. Although useful
conclusions could be drawn from the measurements, a number of improvements could be
made with respect to the experimental design in order to limit uncertainties in
interpretation in future experiments.
With regard to the size of the splash cups used in this study, it appeared that the
average splash lengths on the studied soil were of the same order of magnitude as the
diameter of the smallest cups and this made the interpretation of the data rather uncertain.
If still smaller cups had been used as well, this would not only have given a better
opportunity to determine splash lengths more accurately, but would also have allowed the
possible effects of crop canopy and mulch cover on splash length to be investigated. The
same may be true for other, less aggregated soil types, although it would seem that
associated splash lengths are often larger than presently inferred (cf. Poesen and Savat,
1981). The combination of a splash box and Gerlach trough as applied in this study
produced useful information, but, again, interpretation of the measurements was
somewhat difficult because the splash box was positioned at an angle to the terrace riser
face. The interpretation would have been more straightforward if the splash box had been
aligned with the riser surface, although such a design may create practical problems of its
own.
Finally, a number of studies deals with the enrichment or depletion of certain size
classes when sediment is splashed in soil tray or splash cup experiments (e.g. Gabriels
and Moldenhauer, 1978; Wan and El-Swaify, 1998). The current study has made it clear
that the underlying differences in transportability of different size classes originate from
a combination of differences in splash length and detachability. Consequently,
enrichment and depletion by splash transport cannot be equated to differences in
detachability and as such have to be interpreted with care (cf. Chapter 8).