Kosmalla, V.; Keimer, K.; Schürenkamp, D.; Lojek, O.; Goseberg, N.: Erosion resistance of vegetation-covered soils: Impact of different grazing conditions in salt marshes and analysis of soil-vegetation interactions by the novel DiCoastar method. In: Ecological engineering : the journal of ecotechnology 181 (2022), 106657. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoleng.2022.106657
The analysis of soil-vegetation interactions in erosion processes along coastlines requires accurate information about various factors influencing the upper soil layer. Yet, some of these parameters were previously determined by simplified, often hand held devices, and these were often biased by the skill and experience of the operator. This study thus investigates the erosion resistance of salt marsh soils influenced by grazing conditions for providing crucial findings for policy making and land management decisions; to that end, we present and use a novel shear resistance measuring device. This measuring device, called DiCoastar, was developed with a controllable step-motor and now allows us for the first time the determination of time histories of shear resistance by repeatable in-situ measurements, gaining information about the interaction between soil and root systems. A field study was conducted in salt marshes at Cäciliengroden and at Sönke-Nissen-Koog, both foreland salt marshes at the German North Sea coast. The two sites had been chosen due to their difference in grazing intensities, featuring semi-natural/ungrazed, moderately grazed and intensively grazed salt marshes. This was to enable the investigation of influences on soil shear strength and vegetation cover. Measurements of shear resistance were conducted with the DiCoastar in the chosen sites in the vicinity of the dike toes; it is found that the new device now provides consistent and repeatable measurements, irrespective of the operator, and only based on the pre-set control parameters. Results of the field study demonstrate that a marked increase of shear strength is only found in sites with high intensity grazing, but this is accompanied by a strong reduction in the vegetation cover and plant diversity, especially with regard to the vertical density distribution of the vegetation cover. As the reduction in vegetation cover leads to reduced wave attenuation over salt marshes and increased flow velocities, an increased shear stress on the soil surface, which potentially exceeds the increased shear strength, is expected. Based on this, the results obtained lead to the assumption that an increase in the erosion potential of these foreland marshes by high grazing pressure is more likely as well as a reduction in dike stability. © 2022 The Authors
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