Growing pastoral plants in soil with high salinity levels has succeeded in Qatar through the comprehensive management of soil, water and crops within the third phase of a regional project in co-operation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, according to Hamad al-Shammari, director of the Agriculture Research Department at the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME).
He recently told local Arabic daily Arrayah that the preliminary results of the project have proven the success of planting Sesbania sesban, a summer fodder crop, at the biosaline agriculture research station in Dukhan. This is in addition to saltbushes, some types of grass and cotton bushes, the green parts of which can be used as livestock fodder after collecting the cotton.
Similarly, the planting of para grass and pastoral cactus has succeeded as part of the same programme concerning high-salinity soil agriculture. He said currently the project is in the third phase, which is considered the most important as it paves the way for the final results and outcomes next year.
The project started in 2018 by rehabilitating plots of land with saline soil and choosing the proper plants for this kind of soil. The second phase involved planting and rehabilitating these plants based of the requirements of the Qatari environment, while the third phase involved following up on the growth of such plants and taking the necessary measurements.
In the fourth phase, these plants will be spread across open spaces, with the ultimate aim of the project being to use them to provide fodder for livestock in the country. “The plants used for the project have been imported from abroad and they are now at the agriculture research station. The initial results are really promising,” he stressed.
The project aims to improve the productivity of saline soil and fight the deterioration of land in Arab countries. The plants that are proven successful will be used to reclaim the soil on low-productivity or deserted local farms due to the salinity of their soil, which represent almost a third of the overall arable space annually. In addition, a database will be developed on the project and its effectiveness, as well as the methods used through its various phases.
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