The densely populated European part of Russia has gone through significant changes in recent decades due to economic and political transitions in the country. With regards to agriculture and industry, it mostly comprised serious declines in production in the 1990s and a steady rise afterwards. So the researchers were interested in the effect which all this has had on river flow and erosion in the area.
"This pertains mostly to soil and gully erosion as the primary processes of mechanical denudation of the cultivated interfluve areas of the region. We studied the southern taiga region in the Vyatka river basin, which accounts for about 130 thousand square kilometers," says co-author, Research Associate Artyom Gusarov.
As expected, the team found that soil and gully erosion has decreased almost twofold in the last decades, mostly because of reduced tillage and animal husbandry. In other results, the authors posit that climate change has not been a serious contributor to erosion changes in this area.
Artyom Gusarov hopes that further work can be done in the north of the East European Plain and the Ural Mountains.
Such statistics can have a vital impact in many areas, including agriculture planning, industrial development, residential construction, protection of water bodies, river transportation, and others.