(MENAFN- Khaleej Times)
Published: Sun 6 Mar 2022, 3:23 PM
The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) will provide treated wastewater to 4,015 agricultural farms and 32 forest areas in the Al Ain region.
As part of its 2021-2025 strategic plan, EAD said the farms would be provided with 250,000 cubic meters of treated wastewater per day.
EAD said it would also develop a program for small desalination plants in 1,200 farms to reduce the use of salty water for irrigation.
In coordination with its partners, the agency has confirmed that it will implement an integrated approach and a regulatory framework for soil protection.
The agency said it would take samples and conduct a soil quality survey to enable data-based research and reach the performance indicator for achieving 78 per cent in the soil quality compliance indicator. This aims to reducing soil salinity in the irrigated agricultural area and reduce the degradation and pollution of coastal and inland soils.
EAD has identified three challenges to preserving the soil, including dry weather that leads to wind erosion, high temperatures and increase in evaporation leading to soil salinity and the lack of rainfall that leads to high soil salinity levels.
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Officials noted that useable groundwater is one of the most important challenges in maintaining the quality of the emirate's precious soil resources.
The growth in the agricultural sector reached 6.3 per cent annually for 33 years, which led to the promotion of unsustainable farming practices, such as overgrazing, soil pollution due to excessive use of fertilisers, and secondary soil salinization, due to excessive irrigation with brackish and saline water, according to EAD.
“There is soil degradation in many parts of the emirate. A survey conducted in 2009 on 5.7 million hectares indicated that 22.6 per cent of the land is highly degraded, 0.1 per cent is moderately degraded, and 77.3 per cent is slightly degraded. The worst cases of degradation were mainly recorded in the coastal areas, and about 5.4 per cent of the soil was suitable for medium to high irrigated agriculture,” said authorities.
EAD said that during the coming years (until 2025), it will focus on developing policies and legislations that protect the soil from further deterioration and pollution. The agency will also establish the best-in-class regulatory framework for waste disposal, develop a licensing plan for waste transporting vehicles, and ensure its implementation with the focus on reducing littering. Legislation will also be developed to prevent developments in the selected critical natural habitats.
The agency will provide annual surveys for soil quality in residential, industrial and agricultural areas, and a soil database will be created at EAD to provide decision-makers with accurate data to help sustain the agricultural and food sectors in the emirate. It will also help in developing a program to monitor changes in salinity in 100 farms across Abu Dhabi emirate.
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