Pedosphere 14(2): 263--268, 2004
ISSN 1002-0160/CN 32-1315/P
©2004 Soil Science Society of China
Published by Elsevier B.V. and Science Press
Streamflow and soil moisture of agroforestry and grass watersheds in hilly area
LIU Gang-Cai1, TIAN Guang-Long2, SHU Dong-Cai3, LIN San-Yi3 and LIU Shu-Zhen1
1 Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Ministry of Water Resources, P. O. Box 417, Chengdu 610041 (China). E-mail:
2 Institute of Ecology, University of Georgia, Ecology Annex, Athens G A 30602 (USA)
3 Sichuan University, Chengdu 610015 (China)
      A study was conducted in a hilly area of Sichuan Province, Southwestern China, to compare the streamflow and soil moisture in two upland watersheds with different land use patterns. One was an agroforestry watershed, which consisted mainly of trees with alder (Alnus cremastogyne Burkill) and cypress (Cupressus funebris Endl.) planted in belts or strips with a coverage of about 46%, and the other was a grassland primarily composed of lalang grass (Imperata cylindrica var. major (Nees) C. E. Hubb.), filamentary clematis (Clematis filamentosa Dunn) and common eulaliopsis (Eulaliopsis binata (Retz.) C. E. Hubb) with a coverage of about 44%. Streamflow measurement with a hydrograph established at the watershed outlet showed that the average annual streamflow per 100 mm rainfall from 1983 to 1992 was 0.36 and 1.08 L s-1 km-2 for the agroforestry watershed and the grass watershed, respectively. This showed that the streamflow of the agroforestry watershed was reduced by 67% when compared to that of the grass watershed. The peak average monthly streamflow in the agroforestry watershed was over 5 times lower than that of the grass watershed and lagged by one month. In addition, the peak streamflow during a typical rainfall event of 38.3 mm in August 1986 was 37% lower in the agroforestry watershed than in the grass watershed. Results of the moisture contents of the soil samples from 3 slope locations (upper, middle and lower slopes) indicated that the agroforestry watershed maintained generally higher soil moisture contents than the grass watershed within 0-20 and 20-80 cm soil depths for the upper slope, especially for the period from May through July. For the other (middle and lower) slopes, soil moisture contents within 20-80 cm depth in the agroforestry watershed was generally lower than those in the grass watershed, particularly in September, revealing that water consumption by trees took place mainly below the plow layer. Therefore, agroforestry land use types might offer a complimentary model for tree-annual crop water utilization.
Key Words:  agroforestry, soil moisture, streamflow
Citation: Liu, G. C., Tian, G. L., Shu, D. C., Lin, S. Y. and Liu, S. Z. 2004. Streamflow and soil moisture of agroforestry and grass watersheds in hilly area. Pedosphere. 14(2): 263-268.
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