A Rainfall Simulator for the in situ Study of Superficial Runoff and Soil Erosion

Claudia Sangüesa1*, José Arumí2, Roberto Pizarro1, and Oscar Link3

A rainfall simulator is an important tool for the study of runoff generation and soil loss because it can be used either under laboratory conditions, or in disturbed or natural soil. The objective of this study was to describe the design and operation of a rainfall simulator to evaluate soil loss in situ. The rainfall simulator has four full-cone spray nozzles with a Unijet system mounted in a straight line pipe configuration, and easily transported and assembled. Simulated rainfall uniformity was evaluated in the laboratory, whereas the applicability of the simulator in natural soil erosion plot conditions in an experimental field with different slopes was tested by quantifying runoff and evaluating soil erosion. Twenty simulations were carried out in the laboratory and sixteen in the field with slopes of 11, 21, and 39%. Four water-sprinklers in a straight line generated rainfall with uniformity close to 90%. The constructed simulator was easy to use and low cost, facilitating the necessary experimental replicates to achieve a suitable spatial representation of superficial runoff and soil loss on hillsides.

Keywords: soil erosion, superficial runoff, erosion plot, uniformity of rain.
1Universidad de Talca, Facultad de Ciencias Forestales, Casilla 747, Talca, Chile.
*Corresponding author (csanguesa@utalca.cl). 2Universidad de Concepción, Facultad de Ingeniería Agrícola, Casilla 537, Chillán, Chile.
3Universidad de Concepción, Facultad de Ingeniería, Casilla 160-C, Correo 3, Concepción, Chile.