News Release

Influence of land use on soil erosion in European Russia for the last 30 years

A comprehensive study of this large region of Russia saw light in Water

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Kazan Federal University


image: Change in the total area of cultivated land (F) in the Russian Federation in 1970-2017. RSFSR--the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic as the principal part of the former USSR until December 1991; Fav--the average area of cultivated land; ?F--relative change in Fav between 1970-1991 and 2005-2017 with p (Student's t-test); R2--the coefficient of determination of a sixth-degree polynomial trend (1); 2--the years of the political and economic reform in the USSR, "Perestroika". In the sixth-degree polynomial equation: Fi is the modeled F-value for the year yi. Note. According to the five-year program for the development of the socialist planned economy of the former USSR, the total area of cultivated land during every five years (...1971-1975, 1976-1980, 1981-1985, and 1986-1990) remained slightly changed. view more 

Credit: Kazan Federal University

Research Associate Artyom Gusarov studied a vast array of erosion data to make a general takeaway that soil erosion and river sediment load in the aforementioned region has significantly decreased throughout the post-Soviet period.

"The decrease has been especially profound in the forest steppe, a part of which covers the Republic of Tatarstan, because of the combined influence of climate change and land cultivation," explains Gusarov. "To the north of the forest steppe, in the southern part of the boreal zone, the anthropogenic factor was the primary influence on the changes in soil erosion, at least in the east of the East European Plain. Here, the reduction of cultivated land was the biggest in the post-Soviet time. In the steppes, the primary role can be attributed to climate change, especially the warming of the near-soil air, which led to decreased frosting of soils during winters, and, therefore, decreased erosion-inducing sediment from tillage."

The research shows that there is a complex intertwining between seemingly negative socio-economic developments and environmental conditions.

"The recession of agriculture in contemporary Russia, including decreases in tillage areas, numbers of agricultural machines, livestock population, etc., led to decreased soil and ravine erosion in the region, decreased river sediment load and concomitant pollution," says Gusarov.

The results are very important for the comprehensive planning of soil preservation, hydrogeological construction, and artificial water bodies. Artyom Gusarov aims to continue this research, now moving to the northern part of the East European Plain and the rivers running into the Arctic Ocean.


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