Science et changements planétaires / Sécheresse


Irrigation et salinisation au Sahara algérien Volume 5, issue 3, Septembre 1994

Institut National Agronomique El Harrach, Algérie
  • Page(s) : 151-60
  • Published in: 1994

In recent years, the existence of underground water reserves in the Sahara has raised great hopes of tripling the present cultivated area. Saharan agriculture, however, operates under particularly difficult physical and environmental conditions: high evaporation rates due to climate, poor-fertility soils, and saline water. In addition, adverse phenomena frequently occur within this confined environment: the rising water table, salinisation of irrigated land and pollution of farmland. All these factors tend to decrease productivity. Cultivating the Gassi-Touil area over five consecutive farming seasons using water mineralised to various degrees has resulted in the soil becoming very highly salinised and farm productivity dropping by some 50%. Because of this, the Authorities have decided to stop the use of most saline water, thus jeopardising the future of farming in the region. Careful selection of farmland and irrigation methods, controlled use of water and monitoring irrigated zones are the most efficient ways of slowing down soil salinisation, fighting water wastage, preserving the environment and ensuring sustainable, productive agriculture. This can obviously only come about if skills, research and development are promoted on the local level.