Land degradation by erosion occurred after irrigation development in the Harran plain, Southeastern Turkey

Darama Y., Yilmaz K., MELEK A. B.

ENVIRONMENTAL EARTH SCIENCES, vol.80, no.6, 2021 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 80 Issue: 6
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s12665-021-09372-5
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, IBZ Online, PASCAL, Aerospace Database, Applied Science & Technology Source, Aqualine, Aquatic Science & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA), BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, Compendex, Computer & Applied Sciences, Environment Index, Geobase, INSPEC, Pollution Abstracts, Veterinary Science Database, Civil Engineering Abstracts
  • Keywords: Erosion, Suspended sediment, Drainage, Furrow irrigation, RUSLE, MIKE 21, Harran plain
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


A study was made to determine the erosion problem and determine the amount of suspended sediment transport in the drainage channels of the Harran Plain by conducting periodic suspended sediment sampling and discharge measurements in the field between 1997 and 2017. When irrigation in the Harran Plain started in 1990, the production of the agricultural goods quadrupled within a few years. Unfortunately, excessive amounts of irrigation water supplied to irrigate crops also led to the erosion of the soil in the fields by surface runoff. Furthermore, the mixture of clay, silt, and fine sand in the topsoil from certain areas accumulated in the tertiary and secondary drainage systems and reduced the effectiveness of the drainage system. Analysis of the suspended sediment measurements between 1997 and 2017 showed that the yearly averaged sediment transported to Syria by the main drainage canal of the Harran Plain varied between 128 to 1268, and the average of the 21-year measurement is about 682 The logarithmic plot of the suspended sediment rating curve showed that as the discharge of the Cullap Creek increases, the sediment transport rate also increases linearly. It means excess furrow irrigation could cause substantial topsoil loss. Sediment erosion resulting from rainfall events in the Harran Plain is also computed using Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE). The results showed that rainfall erosion from the Harran Plain is 131.5 A comparison of this value with the 21-year value of average sediment erosion by irrigation shows that approximately 20% of sediment erosion from the Harran Plain was caused by rainfall events, and the remaining 80% was caused by excess irrigation water in the area. A 2D numerical model was constructed with MIKE 21 software applying Van Rijn Method to calculate suspended sediment load due to irrigation, and it allowed to calculate the load with a 6.47% error. Grouping the irrigated and non-irrigated periods and applying independent t test, a statistical approach constituted and resulted in 79.2% of suspended sediment load is caused by irrigation. The numerical model and statistical analysis supported the findings of field data and RUSLE Model results. The study showed that the main reason of the topsoil loss in the Harran Plain is the excess furrow irrigation.