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EAD Launches Plan To Manage Soil Salinity Of Agricultural Lands In Abu Dhabi











The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, EAD, today launched a plan to manage soil salinity in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, which is considered one of the most important challenges facing the agricultural land sector and a major cause of soil degradation and reduced productivity.

The plan - coincides with World Soil Day which falls on 5th December every year - is considered as one of the most important outputs of the soil salinity survey project in agricultural lands, which was implemented over a period of three years and with the participation of all concerned authorities.

The plan seeks to develop a sustainable model for the optimal use of available soil and water resources, to provide farmers with a clear vision, and to enhance their role as suppliers of healthy local agricultural products. This includes recommendations and necessary procedures for each agricultural region, where a description of the current situation of irrigated soil and water irrigation, and sustainable procedures in each area.

The plan was launched in an event organised by EAD in the presence of representatives from a number of government entities at the federal and local levels.

Shaikha Al Hosani, Executive Director of the Environmental Quality Sector at EAD, said, "Soil management, in its comprehensive concept, exceeds recommendations related to crop management, to include other important issues such as the development of integrated policies and strategies concerned with issues related to soil, water resources, food security, agricultural and economic development, and others. The existence of clear policies is an essential element in the success and sustainability of natural resource management in any country of the world."

Al Hosani pointed out that "the soil monitoring programme implemented by EAD has contributed to understanding the seasonal changes that occur in the state of agricultural soils during the seasons of the year, and this will help define key performance indicators to measure the success of the implementation of any soil management plan in the future".

She stressed the possibility of identifying lands and soils suitable for irrigated agriculture by relying on the data and maps provided by the Groundwater Well Inventory Project and Soil Salinity Survey project, in addition to the data and maps available in EAD's Soil Information System, UAESIS, database. She added that more standards and factors should also be taken into consideration such as infrastructure requirements, accessibility to areas, and so on.

Bayan Athamneh, Manager of the Soil Quality Section, indicated, "This plan is one of the most important results of the survey that the Agency implemented to assess the levels of soil salinity in agricultural lands, between 2015 and the end of 2018. The survey included 4.000 farms in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, where it measured the level of soil quality and the quality of irrigation water. More than 4000 soil samples were analysed to identify soil salinity, which contributed to the development of specific recommendations specific to each irrigated area with regard to soil use, irrigation water, and how to manage soil salinity.

"We developed the Soil Salinity Management Plan, with our partners, which will enable us to optimise the use of available water resources and reduce the spread of agricultural land degradation due to soil salinity," Athamneh said.

The event included a panel discussion session entitled "Soil Salinity in Agricultural Lands in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi" with the participation of Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority, the United Arab Emirates University / College of Agriculture and Food Sciences, the Ministry of Future Food Security, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and EAD.

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