Degradation of Agricultural Lands and Methods of their Improvement
Investigation of agricultural lands' degradation factors and development of methods for their improvement on the example of Agrarian Sector of Georgia
Tech Area / Field
- ENV-EHS/Environmental Health and Safety/Environment
2 Submitted to Parties for Board Decision
Georgian Technical University, Georgia, Tbilisi
- New Mexico Tech, USA, NM, Socorro\nOstWestTransfer e.K., Germany, Regis-Breitingen
Project summaryObjective of the project is development of methods for improvement of the soil productivity and quality of agricultural products Problem Statement Human impact on ecosystem was expressed already thousands of years ago in relation with development of agriculture and animal husbandry. Development of civilization has been increasing pressure on ecosystem which by present times reached its critical level. Processes of desertification taking place in many regions of the world is an expression of altered stability of the global ecosystem.
Desertification processes are developed by the influence of anthropogenic and natural factors. First due to increasing demand of humanity on food, water, feed, fuel, mineral resources. Social, economic and political aspects should be also considered. Among the latter are global climate change and local anomalies, depletion of fresh water resources, drought and many other phenomena. All these processes can be observed in several regions of Georgia, including those which are characterized by the presence of endemic species.
Georgia is a member of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection in collaboration with universities, foreign and local organizations is implementing a number of projects aimed at improving agricultural lands.
Development of Research Methods
Considering complexity of the interaction of global, regional and anthropogenic factors, it is useful to study them in the scale of regional ecosystems, where possible, a detailed study of the effects of specific climatic and orographic features and to take into account the traditional methods of farming, animal husbandry, and soil characteristics. Based on the above-mentioned considerations regions of Eastern Georgia were selected for the research. These regions are the areas of traditional agriculture, cattle breeding and viticulture. It is here, where desertification and degradation of farmland and pastures are expressed most evidently. Along with climatic factors, degradation of agricultural lands is also due to soil contamination caused by uncontrolled use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. In addition, soil is contaminated by industrial emissions of sulfur compounds, nitrogen, chlorine, and carried by the wind dust particles containing heavy metals (Pb, Cd, As, Mn, Cu, Zn). Sources of these contamination will be identified, their characteristics and severity, and transport pathways will be studied. As an information database for the study of the microclimate of the selected area ,long-term data of the nearest weather stations will be used, specifically: the amount of precipitation and its annual distribution, temperature and wind characteristics, the influx of solar energy. Assessment of farmland and pastures includes characterization of soil moisture, vegetation cover on pastures, contamination with heavy metals of the soil and water, a quantitative estimate of wind transport of dust particles.
Results and their use
As a result of the project, qualitative and quantitative assessment of the investigated ecosystem will be submitted and re commendations for the adoption of environmental protection measures aimed at maintaining the stability of the ecosystem will be developed. In the laboratory, effectiveness of treatment by local natural sorbents will be studied on the contaminated soil samples. Extremely promising are using of newly identified (in eastern Georgia) bentonized tuffs characterized by montmorillonite-clinoptilolite mineralogical composition having high adsorption properties and a large moisture capacity. Use of this adsorbent will suspend developing of desertification. All this will assist to the development of recommendations that will address scientifically-evident measures to improve the soil using local natural adsorbents, optimal exploitation of pastures and farmland, as well as to reduce the emissions of pollution and dust particles, creating continuous monitoring of air, water and soil.