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Year of publication:

Title: RUSLE2015

Author(s) Name(s) : Panos Panagos (European Commission, Joint Research Centre); Pasquale Borrelli (University of Basel, Switzerland)



The modified version of the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) is the new proposed model: RUSLE2015. This model has been developed in JRC during the last 3 years. RUSLE2015 Is an erosion model designed to predict the long time average annual soil loss carried by runoff. RUSLE2015 estimates soil loss in Europe for the reference year 2010, within which the input factors (Rainfall erosivity, Soil erodibility, Cover-Management, Topography, Support practices) are modelled with the most recently available pan-European datasets. While RUSLE has been used before in Europe, RUSLE2015 improves the quality of estimation by introducing updated (2010), high-resolution (100 m), peer-reviewed input layers. The mean soil loss rate in the European Union’s erosion-prone lands (agricultural, forests and semi-natural areas) was found to be 2.46 t ha-1 yr-1, resulting in a total soil loss of 970 Mt annually. A major benefit of RUSLE2015 is that it can incorporate the effects of policy scenarios based on land-use changes and support practices. The impact of the Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC) requirements of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the EU’s guidelines for soil protection can be grouped under land management (reduced/no till, plant residues, cover crops) and support practices (contour farming, maintenance of stone walls and grass margins). The policy interventions (GAEC, Soil Thematic Strategy) over the past decade have reduced the soil loss rate by 9.5% on average in Europe, and by 20% for arable lands. Special attention is given to the 4 * 106 ha of croplands which currently have unsustainable soil loss rates of more than 5 t ha-1 yr-1, and to which policy measures should be targeted. Compared to past soil erosion model applied at continental scale, the RUSLE2015 has addressed the spatial resolution issue (100m high resolution), incorporated the crop systems and provided the option to introduce dynamic land uses and coupled modelling.

Another important advantage of the model is the introduction of the climate change, land use and policy scenarios. The impact of rainfall intensification (climate change), afforestation or deforestation (land use change) and the policy interventions (Common Agricultural Policy; etc) are incorporated in the RUSLE2015 model. Recently the model has been coupled with CENTURY model in order to estimate the eroded soil organic carbon.

Ultimately, the RUSLE2015 has also coupled with WATEM/SEDEM model to estimate the sediment distribution in EU agricultural lands. Regarding the estimation of soil erosion costs, RUSLE2015 has been also coupled with Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) macro-Economic models.






Screen shots



Scientific articles

Panagos, P., Borrelli, P., Poesen, J., Ballabio, C., Lugato, E., Meusburger, K., Montanarella, L., Alewell, .C. 2015. The new assessment of soil loss by water erosion in EuropeEnvironmental Science & Policy54: 438-447


Borrelli P., Robinson D.A., Fleischer L.R., Lugato E., Ballabio C., Alewell C., Meusburger K., Modugno, S., Schutt, B. Ferro, V. Bagarello, V. Van Oost, K., Montanarella, L., Panagos P. 2017. An assessment of the global impact of 21st century land use change on soil erosion.  Nature Communications, 8 (1): art. no. 2013


Panagos, P., Borrelli, P., Robinson, D.A. Common Agricultural Policy: Tackling soil loss across EuropeNature 526, 195 (07 October 2015),  doi:10.1038/526195d

Lugato E., Panagos P., Bampa, F., Jones A., Montanarella L. (2014). A new baseline of organic carbon stock in European agricultural soils using a modelling approachGlobal change biology. 20 (1), pp. 313-326.

Lugato, E., Paustian, K., Panagos, P., Jones, A., Borrelli, P., 2016. Quantifying the erosion effect on current carbon budget of European agricultural soils at high spatial resolution. Global Change Biology. doi: 10.1111/gcb.13198


Panagos, P., Standardi, G., Borrelli, P., Lugato, E., Montanarella, L. Bosello, F. 2019.  Cost of agricultural productivity loss due to soil erosion in the European Union: From direct cost evaluation approaches to the use of macroeconomic models. Land Degradation & Development. In Press.

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