Assessment of Soil Suitability for Improvement of Soil Factors and Agricultural Management
Abd-Elmabod, Sameh Kotb
De la Rosa, Diego
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The dramatic growth of the world’s population is increasing the pressure on natural resources, particularly on soil systems. At the same time, inappropriate agricultural practices are causing widespread soil degradation. Improved management of soil resources and identification of the potential agricultural capability of soils is therefore needed to prevent further land degradation, particularly in dryland areas such as Egypt. Here, we present a case study in the El-Fayoum depression (Northern Egypt) to model and map soil suitability for 12 typical Mediterranean crops. Two management scenarios were analyzed: the current situation (CS) and an optimal scenario (OS) of soil variables. The Almagra model was applied to estimate soil suitability under CS and OS. Management options based on the CS assessment were proposed to reduce some limiting factors: a fixed value of 2 dSm-1 for soil salinity and 5% for sodium saturation; these defined the OS. Under optimal management, the OS scenario showed potential, where a notable increase of the area covered by a high suitability class (around 80%) for annual and semi-annual crops was observed. There was also a marked increase (about 70% for CS and 50% for OS) for perennial crops shifting from the marginal to moderate soil suitability class. The results reveal the importance of proper management to massively alter soil suitability into better states in order to achieve sustainable land use in this fertile agro-ecosystem.
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