Soils of the Syrian Mid-Euphrates region with particular reference to gypsiferous soils and their influence upon agriculturall development
The agricultural economy of Syria depends to a considerable extent on the use of the land along the river Euphrates. This land is fairly flat and should, therefore, be easy to cultivate, furthermore, since the river drains the better watered catchment outside the area, the problem of irrigation should not be insuperable. This should be all the more effective following the construction of the Euphrates dam. The increasing population makes it necessary to extend all the agriculturally usable areas, but above all else it is imperative to help the local and nomadic peoples to settle, sad to provide an opportunity for development within the study area, uhich lies in the middle reaches of the Syrian Euphrates. The thesis will deal mainly with the nature and characteristics of the saline, and particularly the gypaiferous soils which are associated with any such development. An account will be given of the field survey undertaken during the period 196l»197ii. Other aspects to be considered are the relationship between soils and plant life, the influence of landscape on soil dynamics, and the reclamation of land for agricultural development. Any possible development within the study area faces major problems, one of which i3 the excessive salinity or, more specifically the gypsiferous nature of the soils, which affects plant growth and consequently limits human activity. To contribute towards a solution of the area's problems, work Was started in 1161 on the measurement and collection of information on the presence and nature of salinity, together with relevant data concerning climate, hydrology, vegetation cover and other soil properties. It was also necessary to review literature concerned with the control of analogous problems in other arid areas. Part One illustrates the point that the saline soils occupy a large part of the country. The study area is situated mainly within this saline region, and the factors affecting the formation of the soil are discussed. The distribution of important soil properties occupies a major proportion of this part, over several related subsections . Part Two gives details of the vegetation cover and the general nature of the soil groups, the distribution of soil properties and soil profile descriptions. The classification of the soils is based on U.S.D.A. w7th Approximation11 and FAO-Unesco schemes. These two parts lead into the third, which deals with the gypsiferous and other saline soils in detail. From an agricultural and engineering point of view, the most important and most dangerous problems affecting the area concern these soils. Finally, Part Four, discusses the soil productivity, the irrigation network, and the field experiments on leaching. In addition, land reclamation is discussed, and recommendations are made for land use and the development of agriculture and settlement far local and nomadic people.