Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in combination with soil loss models can enhance evaluation of soil erosion estimation. SAGA and ARC/INFO geographic information systems were used to estimate the topographic (LS) factor of the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) that in turn was used to calculate the soil erosion on a long-term experimental plot near Prague in the Czech Republic. To determine the influence of a chosen algorithm on the soil erosion estimates a digital elevation model with high accuracy (1 × 1 m) and a measured soil loss under simulated rainfall were used. These then provided input for five GIS-based and two manual procedures of computing the combined slope length and steepness factor in the (R)USLE. The results of GIS-based (R)USLE erosion estimates from the seven procedures were compared to the measured soil loss from the 11 m long experimental plot and from 38 rainfall simulations performed here during 15 years. The results indicate that the GIS-based (R)USLE soil loss estimates from five different approaches to calculation of LS factor are lower than the measured average annual soil loss. The two remaining approaches over-predicted the measured soil loss. The best method for LS factor estimation on field scale is the original manual method of the USLE, which predicted the average soil loss with 6% difference from the measured soil loss. The second method is the GIS-based method that concluded a difference of 8%. The results of this study show the need for further work in the area of soil erosion estimation (with particular focus on the rill/interrill ratio) using the GIS and USLE. The study also revealed the need for an application of the same approach to catchment area as it might bring different outcomes.
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