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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Plant Science

First Advisor

Thomas Schmacher


Erosion forces detach soil particles which are transported and deposited into different locations based on several factors such as human influence, land cover, inherent soil properties, climate and topography for an area. The objective of this study is to calculate water, wind and tillage erosion potentials for the Bad River Watershed in western South Dakota and the Middle Big Sioux Coteau and Upper Big Sioux watersheds in eastern South Dakota using Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (IFSAR) elevation models. Water erosion potentials were calculated using a GIS version of the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) equation. Tillage erosion potentials were calculated using a modified equation using slope curvature and the tillage transport coefficients. Wind erosion potentials were calculated using the soil Wei values on shoulder topographic locations facing the northwest. The highest water erosion potential levels in both study areas were found primarily along backslopes. The highest tillage erosion potential results of soil loss were primarily calculated on convex shoulder positions compared to the concave footslope positions, where the highest calculations of soil accumulation were identified. Benefits to using the GIS methods include being a cost-effective and easy method to create, alter, test input variables, and to realistically estimate erosion potential at the watershed or regional scales, allowing for focused remediation or conservation efforts in those areas identified with high erosion potentials.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Erosion -- South Dakota
Soil erosion prediction -- South Dakota
Watershed management -- South Dakota
Synthetic aperture radar
Digital Elevation Models


Includes bibliographical references (pages 111-115)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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