Advertisement

Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 611–625 | Cite as

Soil degradation and agricultural sustainability: an overview from Iran

  • Iraj EmadodinEmail author
  • Daiju Narita
  • Hans Rudolf Bork
Review

Abstract

During the past six decades, agriculture as a main sector in Iran’s economy has been affected by economic development, land-use policies, and population growth and its pressures. From the 1940s until 2010, the percentage of the total urban population of Iran increased from about 21 % to around 72 %. Urbanization, industrialization, and intensive cultivation have dramatically affected soil and water resources. The exploitation of groundwater has been increased around fourfold from the 1970s to the mid-2000s. Total water resources per capita reduced around 23 % from 1956 to 2008. The average annual decrease in the groundwater table in Iran during the last two decades is 0.51 m. In 2008, the groundwater table fell around −1.14 m in average in Iran. The average use of chemical fertilizers increased from around 2.1 million tons in 1990s to about 3.7 million tons in 2009. During that period, fertilizer use efficiency decreased from around 28 % to around 21 %. Approximately 77 % of the agricultural land under irrigation suffers from different levels of salinity. According to the quantification of four indices, such as soil erosion, fall in groundwater levels, salinity, and use of chemical fertilizer, that are directly related to agricultural land use, the results show that agricultural management in Iran needs special attention to reach sustainable conditions. The total cost of soil and water degradation and use of fertilizers in agriculture are estimated around than US $12.8 billion (about 157,000 billion IRRials)—approximately 4 % of the total gross domestic product (GDP) and approximately 35 % of the GDP of the agricultural sector in Iran.

Keywords

Human-induced soil degradation Desertification Population growth Environmental changes Sustainability Agricultural land Iran 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors gratefully thank Dr. D. Pimentel and two anonymous referees for their invaluable suggestions and constructive comments.

References

  1. Abdinejad, G. A. (2007). Desert and desertification in Iran. Journal of Forest and Rangeland, Teheran, Iran, 74, 23–26 (in Persian).Google Scholar
  2. Abdinejad, G. A., & Nategi, D. (2010). Desert and desertification control in Iran. Tehran: Pune press (In Persian).Google Scholar
  3. Ahmadi, H. (2004a). Introduction to Iranian model of desertification assessment (IMDA), Technical report presented to the Committee of Science and Technology, United Nations Convention to combat desertification, the 7th session of conference of parties (COP7), p. 56, Nairobi, Kenya.Google Scholar
  4. Ahmadi, H. (2004b). The study of desertification in Iran. Journal of Forest and Rangeland, Teheran, Iran (In Persian).Google Scholar
  5. Ahmadi-Givi, F., & Parhizkar, D. (2008). A study of the relationship between ENSO and the distribution of annual precipitation in Iran in the period 1971–2000. Iranian Geophysics Journal, 2, 25–37 (in Persian).Google Scholar
  6. Altieri, M. A., Letourneau, D. K., & Davis, J. R. (1983). Developing sustainable agroecosystems. Bioscience, 33(1), 45–49.Google Scholar
  7. American Society of Agronomy. (1989). Decision reached on sustainable agriculture, p. 15. Agron News, January.Google Scholar
  8. Amid, M. J. (1990). Poverty, agriculture and reform in Iran. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Amiraslani, F., & Dragovich, D. (2011). Combating desertification in Iran over the last 50 years: An overview of changing approaches. Journal of Environmental Management, 92, 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bennett, J., Xuehong, W., & Zhang, L. (2008). Environmental protection in China, land-use management. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar publishing, Inc.Google Scholar
  11. Berry, L. (2003). Land degradation in China: Its extent and impact. Available at http://lada.virturalcentre.org, UN, (26/3/04).
  12. Bybordi, M. (2003). Soil physics. Tehran: University of Tehran Press (In Persian).Google Scholar
  13. Cheraghi, S. A. M. (2004). Institutional and scientific profiles of organizations working on saline agriculture in Iran. In F. K. Taha, S. Ismail, & A. Jaradat (Eds.), Prospects of saline agriculture in the Arabian Peninsula: Proceedings of the international seminar on prospects of saline agriculture in the GCC Countries 18–20 March 2001, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (pp. 399–412). Amherst, MA: Amherst Scientific Publishers.Google Scholar
  14. EEA (European Environment Agency). (2001). Proposal for a European soil monitoring and assessment framework, Technical Report No 61, Copenhagen, Denmark. http://reports.eea.eu.int/Technical_report_No_61/en.
  15. Ekhtesasi, M. R. (2004). Investigating morphometric and morphodynamic characteristics of wind erosion in Yazd plain and determining their indices for desertification models. Ph.D. Thesis, Tehran University.Google Scholar
  16. Emadodin, I., & Bork, H. R. (2011). Degradation of soils as a result of long-term human-induced transformation of the environment in Iran: an overview. Journal of Land Use Science. doi: 10.1080/1747423X.2011.560292.
  17. Emadodin, I., Reiss, S., & Bork, H. R. (2009). A study of the relationship between land management and soil aggregate stability: A case study near Albersdorf, Northern-Germany. Journal of Agriculture and Biological Sciences, 4, 48–53.Google Scholar
  18. Eswaran, H., Lal, R., & Reich, P. F. (2001). Land degradation: An overview, Responses to Land Degradation. In Proceeding of 2nd international conference on land degradation and desertification. New Delhi, India: Oxford Press.Google Scholar
  19. FAO. (2005). Fertilizer use by crop in the Islamic Republic of Iran, First version, published by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy.Google Scholar
  20. FAO. (2011). Country profiles. Available at http://www.fao.org/countryprofiles/index.asp?lang=en&ISO3=IRN.
  21. FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). (2000). Global Network on Integrated Soil Management for Sustainable Use of Salt-affected Soils. Country Specific Salinity Issues, Iran. Rome: FAO.Google Scholar
  22. Farshad, A., & Zinck, J. A. (2001). Assessing agricultural sustainability using the six-pillar model: Iran as a case study. In S. Gliessman (Ed.), Agroecosystem sustainability: Developing practical strategies (pp. 137–151). Boca Raton: CRC Press.Google Scholar
  23. FRWO (Forests, Range and Watershed management organization). (2004). National activities program, Technical Report for United Nation Convention of Combat Desertification, Iran, Tehran.Google Scholar
  24. FRWO (Forests, Range and Watershed management organization). (2008). Office of planning and statistics (In Persian). Available at http://www.pbb.frw.org.ir/.
  25. Gliessman, S. R. (2004). Integrating agroecological processes into cropping systems research. Journal of Crop Improvement, 11, 61–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Görlach, B., Landgrebe-Trinkunaite, R., & Interwies, E. (2004). Assessing the economic impacts of soil degradation. Volume I: Literature review. Study commissioned by the European Commission, DG Environment, Study Contract ENV.B.1/ETU/2003/0024. Berlin: Ecologic.Google Scholar
  27. Herdt, R. W., & Steiner, R. A. (1995). Agricultural sustainability, Concepts and conundrums. In V. Barnett, R. Payne, & R. Steiner (Eds.), Agricultural sustainability, economic, environmental and statistical considerations (pp. 3–13). Teachester, New York, Brisbane, Toronto, Singapore: John Whiley.Google Scholar
  28. Hesari, A. (2008). Urbanization in Iran (In Persian). Available at http://alef.ir/content/view/35736/.
  29. Hojjati, M. H., & Boustani, F. (2010). An assessment of groundwater crisis in Iran, case study: Fars province. World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, 70, 476–480.Google Scholar
  30. Iranian Central Bank. (2010). http://www.cbi.ir/.
  31. Iranian Ministry of Jihad-e-Agriculture. (2009). Annual report of agriculture 2008. Department of Statistic and Information. No. 2, Tehran, Iran: Ministry of Jihad-e-Agriculture publications (in Persian).Google Scholar
  32. Iranian Water Resource Management Company. (2004). Annual report of water resource in Iran. No. 1-88024, Tehran, Iran (in Persian).Google Scholar
  33. Iranian Water Resource Management Company. (2008). Annual report of water resource in Iran. No. 1-88028, Tehran, Iran (in Persian).Google Scholar
  34. Kheirabadi, M. (1991). Iranian cities: Formation and development. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  35. Kimbrell, A. (2002). Fatal harvest: The tragedy of industrial agriculture. Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
  36. Lieberman, S. S. (1979). Prospects for development and population growth in Iran. Population and Development Review, 5, 293–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Mahdavi, A. F. (1969). Increased food through efficient fertilizer use in Iran. In T. S. Stickley, J. A. Asmer, A. R. Saghir, N. Atallah, & P. L. Pellett (Eds.), Man, food and agriculture in the Middle East. Beirut: American University of Beirut.Google Scholar
  38. McLachlan, K. (1988). The neglected garden: The politics and ecology of agriculture in Iran (p. 303). London: I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd.Google Scholar
  39. Moameni, A. (2004). An appraisal of land resources of Iran. FAO Report, unpublished.Google Scholar
  40. Pimentel, D., Harvey, C., Resosudarmo, P., Sinclair, K., Kurz, D., McNair, M., et al. (1995). Environmental and economic costs of soil erosion and conservation benefits. Science, 267, 1117–1123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Qadir, M., Qureshi, A. S., & Cheraghi, S. A. M. (2008). Extent and characterization of salt-affected soils in Iran and strategies for their amelioration and management. Land Degradation and Development, 19, 214–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rezaei-Moghaddam, K., Karami, E., & Gibson, J. (2005). Conceptualizing sustainable agriculture: Iran as an illustrative case. Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, 27, 25–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Samani, A. N., Ahmadi, H., Jafari, M., Boggs, G., Ghoddousi, J., & Malekian, A. (2009). Geomorphic threshold conditions for gully erosion in southwestern Iran (Boushehr-Samal Watershed). Journal of Asian Earth Sciences, 35, 180–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Statistical Centre of Iran. (2010), Population estimation, country’s population, Urban and rural areas. http://www.amar.org.ir/default.aspx?tabid=52.
  45. Sydorovych, O., & Wossink, A. (2008). The meaning of agricultural sustainability: Evidence from a conjoint choice survey. Agricultural Systems, 98, 10–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. UNDP. (2010). Human development report. Available at http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/countries/profiles/IRN.html.
  47. United Nations. (1961). Economic commission for Asia and the far east. Multi-purpose river basin development, Part 2D. United Nations publication, Bangkok.Google Scholar
  48. World Bank. (2005). Islamic Republic of Iran; Cost assessment of environmental degradation, Report No. 32043-IR.Google Scholar
  49. World Bank. (2009). World data indicator. Available at http://www.worldbank.org/.
  50. World Bank. (2012). World development indicator and global development finance.Google Scholar
  51. Zinck, J. A., Berroteràn, J. L., Farshad, A., Moameni, A., Wokabi, S., & Van Ranst, E. (2004). Approaches to assessing sustainable agriculture. Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, 23, 87–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Iraj Emadodin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Daiju Narita
    • 2
  • Hans Rudolf Bork
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Ecosystem ResearchChristian-Albrechts-UniversityKielGermany
  2. 2.Institute for the World EconomyKielGermany

Personalised recommendations