Assessment of soil erosion in the Beas Valley, Kullu, Himachal Pradesh: A study of Western Himalayan landscape, Northern India
More details
Hide details
Department of Global Warming & Ecological Studies, Amity University, Noida 201303, India, India
Amity Institute of Global Warming and Climte Change, Amity Univeristy, Noida, India
Scientist, G.B. Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment, HRC, Mohal, Kullu, Himachal Pradesh 175126, India, India
Geography Department, Delhi University, India
Submission date: 2023-10-22
Final revision date: 2024-02-05
Acceptance date: 2024-03-01
Online publication date: 2024-03-01
Publication date: 2024-03-01
Corresponding author
Suraj Kumar Maurya   

Department of Global Warming & Ecological Studies, Amity University, Noida 201303, India, India
Soil Sci. Ann., 2024, 75(1)185558
Soil erosion is a formidable global challenge with far-reaching consequences. It results in the depletion of soil nutrients, land degradation, decreased agricultural output, heightened runoff, and the exacerbation of geological hazards such as landslides and debris flows. This study focuses on the assessment of soil erosion in the Beas Valley region of Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, situated in the Western Himalaya landscape of Northern India. The research employs various datasets and a well-defined methodology to analyze the complex interactions between climate, soil, topography, and land use in order to understand and mitigate soil erosion risks. The primary data sources utilized in this study include rainfall data from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, soil data from the Food and Agriculture Organization, Digital Elevation Model (DEM) data from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, and satellite imagery from Landsat. The research methodology is based on the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE), a widely accepted model for assessing soil erosion. The RUSLE equation (A= R·K·LS·C·P) incorporates several factors to quantify soil erosion rates. The R-factor, derived from monthly and annual rainfall data, is used to estimate erosivity. The K-factor, determined using soil type and composition, characterizes soil erodibility. The LS-factor considers slope and flow accumulation, while the C-factor is calculated based on the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) from satellite imagery. Lastly, the P-factor accounts for the effectiveness of conservation practices. This interdisciplinary approach provides valuable insights into the dynamics of soil erosion in the Beas Valley region. By leveraging cutting-edge data sources, filed visit and a robust methodology, this study contributes to a better understanding of soil erosion processes in a fragile Himalaya ecosystem, facilitating informed land management decisions and environmental conservation efforts.
Abdelwahab, O.M., Ricci, G.F., DeGirolamo, A.M., Gentile, F., 2018. Modelling soil erosion in a Mediterranean watershed: Comparison between SWAT and Agricultural non-point source pollution (AGNPS) models. Environmental Research 166, 363–376.
Amellah, O., El Morabiti, K., 2021. Assessment of soil erosion risk severity using GIS, remote sensing, and RUSLE model in Oued Laou Basin (north Morocco). Soil Science Annual 72, 1–11.
Amsalu, T., Mengaw, A., 2014. GIS based soil loss estimation using RUSLE model: The case of jabi tehinan woreda, ANRS, Ethiopia. Resource 05, 616–626.
Ang, R., Oeurng, C., 2018. Simulating streamflow in an ungauged catchment of Tonle Sap Lake basin in Cambodia using soil and water assessment tool (SWAT) model. Water Science 32, 89–101.
Bahadur, K.C., 2009. Mapping soil erosion susceptibility using remote sensing and GIS: A case of the Upper Nam Wa Watershed, Nan Province, Thailand. Environmental Geology 57(6), 695–705.
Bhattacharyya, R., Ghosh, B.N., Mishra, P.K., Mandal, B., Rao, C.S., Sarkar, D., et al., 2015. Soil degradation in India: Challenges and potential solutions. Sustainability 7, 3528–3570.
Boufala, M., El Hmaidf, A., Chadli, K., Essahlaoui, A., El Ouali, A., Lahjouj, A., 2020. Assessment of the risk of soil erosion using RUSLE method and SWAT model at the M’dez Watershed, Middle Atlas, Morocco. E3S Web Conference 150, 03014.
Chalise, D., Kumar, L., Kristiansen, P., 2019. Land degradation by soil erosion in Nepal: A review. Soil Systems 3(1), 12.
Chen, Z., Wang, L., Wei, A., Gao, J., Lu, Y., Zhou, J., 2019. Land-use change from arable lands to orchards reduced soil erosion and increased nutrient loss in a small catchment. Science of The Total Environment 648, 1097–1104.
Das, S., Deb, P., Bora, P. K., Katre, P., 2021. Comparison of RUSLE and MMF soil loss models and evaluation of catchment scale best management practices for a mountainous watershed in India. Sustainability 13(1), 232.
Dubey, S.K., Sharma, D., 2018. Assessment of climate change impact on yield of major crops in the Banas River Basin, India. Science of The Total Environment 635, 10–19.
Eswaran, H., Lal, R., Reich, P.F., 2001. Land degradation: An overview. In Proceedings of the 2nd international conference on land degradation and desertification: Responses to land degradation (pp. 20–35). Oxford Press.
Farhan, Y., Zregat, D., Nawaiseh, S., 2014. Assessing the influence of physical factors on spatial soil erosion risk in North Jordan. American Journal of Science 10(7), 29–39.
Garcia-Ruiz, J.M., Beguería, S., Nadal-Romero, E., Gonzalez-Hidalgo, J.C., Lana Renault, N., Sanjuán, Y., 2015. A meta-analysis of soil erosion rates across the world. Geomorphology 239, 160–173.
Haregeweyn, N., Tsunekawa, A., Nyssen, J., Poesen, J., Tsubo, M., Meshesha, D., et al., 2015. Soil erosion and conservation in Ethiopia: A review. Progress in Physical Geography 39(5), 750–774.
Jain, M.K., Mishra, S.K., Shah, R.B., 2010. Estimation of sediment yield and areas vulnerable to soil erosion and deposition in a Himalaya watershed using GIS. Current Science 98(2), 213–221.
Kaiser, J., 2004. Wounding earth's fragile skin. Science 304(5677), 1616–1618.
Kayet, N., Pathak, K., Chakrabarty, A., Sahoo, S., 2018. Evaluation of soil loss estimation using the RUSLE model and SCS-CN method in hillslope mining areas. International Soil and Water Conservation Research 6(1), 31–42.
Khosrokhani, M., Pradhan, B., 2014. Spatio-temporal assessment of soil erosion at Kuala Lumpur metropolitan city using remote sensing data and GIS. Geomat. Nat. Hazards Risk 5(2), 252–270.
Koirala, P., Thakuri, S., Joshi, S., Chauhan, R., 2019. Estimation of soil erosion in Nepal using a RUSLE modeling and geospatial tool. Geosciences 9(4), 147.
Kouli, M., Soupios, P., Vallianatos, F., 2009. Soil erosion prediction using the revised universal soil loss equation (RUSLE) in a GIS framework, Chania, Northwestern Crete, Greece. Environmental Geology 57(3), 483–497.
Kumar, A., Devi, M., Deshmukh, B., 2014. Integrated remote sensing and geographic information system-based RUSLE modeling for estimation of soil loss in western Himalaya, India. Water Resources Management 28(13), 3307–3317.
Kumar, R., Deshmukh, B., Kumar, A., 2022. Using Google Earth Engine and GIS for basin scale soil erosion risk assessment: A case study of Chambal River Basin, central India. Journal of Earth System Science 131(2), 228.
Leimgruber, W., 2016. Mountain hazard susceptibility and livelihood security in the upper catchment area of the River Beas, Kullu Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India. Natural Hazards 80(3), 1483–1507.
Londhe, S., Nathawat, M.S., Subudhi, A.P., 2010. Erosion susceptibility zoning and prioritization of mini-watersheds using geomatics approach. International Journal of Geoinformatics and Geoscience 1(4), 511–528.
Li, Y., Qi, S., Liang, B., Ma, J., Cheng, B., Ma, C., et al., 2019. Dangerous degree forecast of soil loss on highway slopes in mountainous areas of the Yunnan–Guizhou Plateau (China) using the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 19(4), 757–774.
Mahapatra, S.K., Reddy, G.O., Nagdev, R., Yadav, R.P., Singh, S.K., Sharda, V.N., 2018. Assessment of soil erosion in the fragile Himalaya ecosystem of Uttarakhand, India using USLE and GIS for sustainable productivity. Current Science 115(1), 108–121.
Mandal, D., Sharda, V.N., 2011. Assessment of permissible soil loss in India employing a quantitative bio-physical model. Current Science 100(3), 383–390.
Marondedze, A.K., Schütt, B., 2020. Assessment of soil erosion using the RUSLE model for the Epworth district of the Harare Metropolitan Province, Zimbabwe. Sustainability 12(20), 8531.
Mandal, A., Khare, D., Kundu, S., 2016. A comparative study of soil erosion modeling by MMF, USLE, and RUSLE. Geocarto International 33(1), 89-103.
Nampak, H., Pradhan, B., Mojaddadi, R. H., Park, H. J., 2018. Assessment of land cover and land use change impact on soil loss in a tropical catchment using multi-temporal SPOT-5 satellite images and revised universal soil loss equation model. Land Degradation & Development 29(13), 3440-3455.
Nearing, M.A., Foster, G.R., Lane, L.J., Finkner, S.C., 1989. A process-based soil erosion model for USDA-water erosion prediction project technology. Transactions of the ASAE 32(5), 1587-1593.
Oliveira, M.L., Saikia, B.K., da Boit, K., Pinto, D., Tutikian, B.F., Silva, L.F., 2019. River dynamics and nanoparticle formation: A comprehensive study on the nanoparticle geochemistry of suspended sediments in the Magdalena River, Caribbean Industrial Area. Journal of Cleaner Production 213, 819-824.
Ouyang, W., Hao, F., Skidmore, A.K., Toxopeus, A.G., 2010. Soil erosion and sediment yield and their relationships with vegetation cover in the upper stream of the Yellow River. Science of the Total Environment 409(8), 396-403.
Panagos, P., Borrelli, P., Meusburger, K., 2015. A new European slope length and steepness factor (LS-Factor) for modelling soil erosion by water. Geosciences 5(2), 117-126.
Park, S., Oh, C., Jeon, S., Jung, H., Choi, C., 2011. Soil erosion risk in Korean watersheds, assessed using the revised universal soil loss equation. Journal of Hydrology 399(3-4), 263-273.
Poesen, J., 2018. Soil erosion in the Anthropocene: Research needs. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 43(1), 64-84.
Prashanth, M., Kumar, A., Dhar, S., Verma, O., Gogoi, K., 2022. Hypsometric analysis for determining erosion proneness of Dehar watershed, Himachal Himalaya, North India. Journal of Geoscience Research 7(1), 86-94.
Prashanth, M., Kumar, A., Dhar, S., Verma, O., Sharma, S., 2021. Morphometric characterization and prioritization of sub-watersheds for assessing soil erosion susceptibility in the Dehar watershed (Himachal Himalaya), Northern India. Himalaya Geology 42(1), 345-358.
Rao, C. S., Gopinath, K. A., Prasad, J. V. N. S., Singh, A. K., 2016. Climate resilient villages for sustainable food security in tropical India: Concept, process, technologies, institutions.
Ranzi, R., Le, T.H., Rulli, M.C., 2012. A RUSLE approach to model suspended sediment load in the Lo River (Vietnam): Effects of reservoirs and land use changes. Journal of Hydrology 422–423, 17–29.
Rawat, K.S., Mishra, A.K., Bhattacharyya, R., 2016. Soil erosion risk assessment and spatial mapping using LANDSAT-7 ETM+, RUSLE, and GIS—a case study. Arabian Journal of Geosciences 9, 288.
Renard, K.G., Foster, G.R., Weesies, G.A., Porter, J.P., 1991. RUSLE: Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 46, 30–33.
Safwan, M., Alaa, K., Omran, A., Quoc, B.P., Nguyen, T.T.L., Van, N.T., et al., 2021. Predicting soil erosion hazard in Lattakia Governorate (WSyria). International Journal of Sediment Research 36, 207–220.
Samanta, S., Koloa, C., Pal, D.K., Palsamanta, B., 2016. Estimation of potential soil erosion rate using RUSLE and E30 model. Modeling Earth Systems and Environment 2, 149.
Sandeep, P., Kumar, K.C., Haritha, S., 2021. Risk modelling of soil erosion in semi-arid watershed of Tamil Nadu, India using RUSLE integrated with GIS and Remote Sensing. Environ. Earth Sci. 80, 511.
Senanayake, S., Pradhan, B., Huete, A., Brennan, J., 2020. Assessing soil erosion hazards using land-use change and landslide frequency ratio method: A case study of Sabaragamuwa Province, Sri Lanka. Remote Sensing 12, 1483.
Sharma, S., Kuniyal, J. C., and Sharma, J. C., 2007. Assessment of manmade and natural hazards in the surroundings of hydropower projects under construction in the Beas Valley of northwestern Himalaya. Journal of Mountain Science 4(3), 221-236.
Sharma, P.K., Patel, A.K., Mondal, N.C., 2020. Assessment of soil erosion risk areas in Bone watershed, Kullu Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India, using GIS and AHP technique. International Journal of Remote Sensing Applications 10(3), 339-348.
Singh, O., Singh, J., 2018. Soil erosion susceptibility assessment of the lower Himachal Himalaya Watershed. Journal of the Geological Society of India 92, 157–165.
Srinivasan, R., Karthika, K. S., Suputhra, S. A., Chandrakala, M., Hegde, R., 2021. Mapping of soil erosion and probability zones using remote sensing and GIS in arid part of south Deccan Plateau India. Journal of the Indian Society of Remote Sensing 49, 2407–2423.
Steinmetz, A.A., Cassalho, F., Caldeira, T.L., Oliveira, V.A.D., Beskow, S., Timm, L.C., 2018. Assessment of soil loss vulnerability in data-scarce watersheds in southern Brazil. Ciência e Agrotecnologia 42, 575–587.
Tiwari, A.K., Risse, L.M., Nearing, M.A., 2000. Evaluation of WEPP and its comparison with USLE and RUSLE. Transactions of the ASAE, 43, 1129–1135.
Wanielista, M.P., Yousef, Y.A., 1993. Stormwater management. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons, 399–410.
Wijesundara, N.C., Abeysingha, N.S., Dissanayake, D., 2018. GIS-Based soil loss estimation using RUSLE model: A case of Kirindi Oya River Basin, Sri Lanka. Environmental Processes 4, 251–262.
Wischmeier, W.H., Smith, D.D., 1978. Predicting rainfall erosion losses: A guide to conservation planning (No. 537). Department of agriculture, science and education administration, agriculture handbook. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Xu, L., Xu, X., Meng, X., 2013. Risk assessment of soil erosion in different rainfall scenarios by RUSLE model coupled with information diffusion model: A case study of Bohai Rim, China. Catena 100, 74–82.
Yadav, R.P., and Sidhu, G.S., 2010. Assessment of soil erosion in Himachal Pradesh. Journal of the Indian Society of Soil Science 58, 212–220.
Zregat, D., Farhan, Y., Nawaiseh, S., 2014. Assessing the influence of physical factors on spatial soil erosion risk in North Jordan. American Journal of Science 10(7), 29–39.
Zhou, P., Luukkanen, O., Tokola, T., Nieminen, J., 2008. Effect of vegetation cover on soil erosion in a mountainous watershed. Catena 75, 319–325. 10.1016/j.catena. 2008.07.010.
Journals System - logo
Scroll to top