Novel Measurement and Assessment Tools for Monitoring and Management of Land and Water Resources in Agricultural Landscapes of Central Asia

Part of the series Environmental Science and Engineering pp 3-59


Land and Water Resources of Central Asia, Their Utilisation and Ecological Status

  • Lothar MuellerAffiliated withLeibniz-Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) e. V. Email author 
  • , Mekhlis SuleimenovAffiliated withScientific Production Center of Grain Farming Named After A.I. Barayev
  • , Akmal KarimovAffiliated withIWMI- Central Asia, C/o PFU-CGIAR-ICARDA-CAC
  • , Manzoor QadirAffiliated withUnited Nations University - Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH)
  • , Abdulla SaparovAffiliated withKazakh Research Institute of Soil Science and Agrochemistry Named After U. U. Uspanov
  • , Nurlan BalgabayevAffiliated withKazakh Scientific Research Institute of Water Economy
  • , Katharina HelmingAffiliated withLeibniz-Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) e. V.
  • , Gunnar LischeidAffiliated withLeibniz-Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) e. V.

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Central Asia is the global hotspot of a nexus of resources. Land, water and food are key issues in this nexus. We analysed the status of land and water resources and their potential and limitations for agriculture in the five Central Asian Transition States. Agricultural productivity and its impacts on land and water quality were also studied. The ecological status of open waters and soils as dependent on the kind of water and land use was shown. The main sources were information and data from the scientific literature, recent research reports, the statistical databases of the FAO and UNECE, and the results of our own field work. Agriculture is crucial for the economy of all Central Asian countries and responsible for about 90 % of their water use. We found that land and water resources may provide their function of food supply, but the agricultural productivity of grassland and cropland is relatively low. Irrigation agriculture is sometimes inefficient and may cause serious detrimental side effects involving soil and water salinisation. Dryland farming, as currently practiced, includes a high risk of wind and water erosion. Water bodies and aquatic, arable and grassland ecosystems are in a critical state with tendencies to accelerated degradation and landscape desertification. Despite all these limitations, agricultural landscapes in Central Asia have great potential for multi-functional use as a source of income for the rural population, tourism and eco-tourism included. The precondition for this is a peaceful environment in which they can be developed. All major rivers and their reservoirs cross borders and involve potential conflict between upstream and downstream riparians. The nexus of resources requires more detailed research, both in the extent of individual elements and processes, and their interactions and cycles. Processes in nature and societies are autocorrelated and intercorrelated, but external disturbances or inputs may also trigger future developments. We emphasise the role of knowledge and technology transfer in recognising and controlling processes. There has been a lot of progress in science and technology over the past ten years, but agri-environmental research and education in Central Asia are still in a crisis. Overcoming this crisis and applying advanced methods in science and technology are key issues for further development. Science and technology may provide an overall knowledge shift when it comes to recognising processes and initiating sustainable development. The following chapters introduce the results of further, more detailed and regional analyses of the status of soil and water. Novel measurement and assessment tools for researching into, monitoring and managing land and water resources will be presented. We will inform future elites, scientists and decision makers on how to deal with them and encourage them to take action.


Central Asia Soil Water Sustainable development