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Abstract, Scientific Reports, 2019

Farming plot construction engineering in hilly areas plays an important role in the mechanization, large-scale production and industrialization of agriculture. The method is undertaken to improve water and soil conservation, enhance soil fertility and extend machinery agriculture. However, the positive effects of engineering require years to mature. The properties of newly reconstructed soil are not sufficient, i.e., with poor structure and low water holding capacity, resulting in deterioration of its physical properties and erosion. To date, most studies on plot characteristics and soil properties in farming plot construction engineering have neglected the influence of soil erosion. This paper addresses soil erosion characteristics at sites to define the appropriate slope length for newly reconstructed gentle-slope lands. Six field plots with a 10° slope gradient and different lengths (5, 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 m) were established under natural rainfall and simulated overland flow conditions. The soil detachment rate, runoff shear stress and stream power exhibited the same trends as runoff and soil loss. The soil erosion characteristics varied at sites with different slope lengths, and the degree of soil erosion reached its minimum on gentle-slope land sites of 30 or 40 m. Therefore, 30–40 m slope lengths may be the recommended range to control soil loss from newly reconstructed gentle-slope lands. The conclusions of this study provide theoretical guidance for farming plot construction engineering, which can promote the sustainable development of cultivated land resources in hilly mountainous regions.