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The soil erodibility factor, K, of the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) is a simple descriptor of the soil susceptibility to rill and interrill erosion. The original procedure for determining K needs a knowledge of soil particle size distribution (PSD), soil organic matter, OM, content, and soil structure and permeability characteristics. However, OM data are often missing and soil structure and permeability are not easily evaluated in regional analyses. The objective of this investigation was to develop a pedotransfer function (PTF) for estimating the K factor of the USLE in Sicily (south Italy) using only soil textural data. The nomograph soil erodibility factor and its associated first approximation, K’, were determined at 471 sampling points distributed throughout the island of Sicily. Two existing relationships for estimating K on the basis of the measured geometric mean particle diameter were initially tested. Then, two alternative PTFs for estimating K’ and K, respectively, on the basis of the measured PSD were derived. Testing analysis showed that the K estimate by the proposed PTF (eq.11), which was characterized by a Nash-Suttcliffe efficiency index, NSEI, varying between 0.68 and 0.76, depending on the considered data set, was appreciably more accurate than the one obtained by other existing equations, yielding NSEI values varying between 0.21 and 0.32.
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