Assessment of land sensitivity to desertification for Al Mussaib project using MEDALUS approach

Document Type : Research Paper


College of Education for Women, University of Baghdad, Iraq


This study was conducted to assess the sensitivity of the land of Al Mussaib project for desertification within the Babylon governorate in Mid Mesopotamian plain. A 35 surface soil sample sites were identified and were distributed over the 12 largest areas of soil series and various soil types covered the area. Standard and adjusted Mediterranean desertification and land use (MEDALUS) approaches were applied, and the environmental sensitivity area indices (ESAI) for 2021 were calculated to obtain desertification-sensitive land types. New parameters were added to the soil quality indicator (SQI) while irrigation water quality indicator (IWQI) was considered as a new one. The results indicated that the area of low soil quality was 31.83%, while that of moderate quality was 68.16%, and the vegetation quality indicator (VQI) was of the low class for the whole region. IWQI indicated that the area of moderate quality was 74.38%, while the low quality was 25. 61%. The values of ESAI ranged from 1.356 to 1.541 indicating that ESAs to desertification were in two types according to adjusted MEDALUS approaches, critical at 94.47 % and fragile at 5.52 %, was arranged as subtypes (C2-C1-F3-C3) with a percentage of 64.58, 28.23, 5.52, and 1.66% respectively. On the other hand, the critical class was prevalent in all the regions according to the standard MEDALUS approaches, with two subtypes including C1 at 6.30% and C2 at 93.69%. Pearson's Correlation showed a significant positive correlation to ESAI values with the indices used in its evaluation, the highest was with IWQI, SQI and VQI by 0.901, 0.861 and 0.852 respectively.


Abdul-Ameer, HK, Wheib, QA & Khudhair, DS 2019, Spatial Distribution of Some Nutrients And Biomass For The Large Al-Mussiab Project.  Plant Archives 19: 733-739.   
Adamo, SB & Crews-Meyer, KA 2006, Aridity and desertification: exploring environmental hazards in Jáchal, Argentina. Applied Geography, 26:61-85. DOI: 10.1016/j.apgeog.2005.09.001.  
Afrasinei, GM, Melis, MT, Buttau, C, Arras, C, Pistis, M, Zerrim, A, Guied, M, Ouessar, M, Essifi, B, Zaied, MB, Jlali, A, Jarray, H & Ghiglieri G 2017, Classification methods for detecting and evaluating changes in desertification-related features in arid and semiarid environments.  Euro-Mediterranean Journal for Environmental Integration (EMJE), 2(14):  Original Paper, DOI: 10.1007/s41207-017-0021-1.  
Ajam, QA 2010, Al-Musayyib Al-Kabeer project. Babylon Center for Civilization and Historical Studies. University of Babylon, Iraq, pp. 25-27.
Al-Agidi, WK 1976, Proposed soil classification at the series level for Iraqi soils,1. Alluvial soils. Baghdad University, College of Agriculture, Technical Bulletin, 2: 3-40.
Al-Agidi, WK 1986, Pedology, Soil Survey and Classification. Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. University of Baghdad, 244 p.
Al-Agidi, WK 1990, Soil Management and Land Use. Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. University of Baghdad, Dar Al Hikma for Printing and Publishing, 746 p.                 
Al-Moussawi, HK 1997, Pedostratography of Silt Ridge (Argub) in Al-Mussiab project/Mesopotamia plain. PhD Dissertation, University of Baghdad, Iraq. 
Al-Rawi, AS & Al-Samarrai, QA 1990, The applied climate. Dar Al-Hikma for Printing and Publishing, Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, University of Baghdad, pp. 105-115.
Ayers, RS, Westcot, DW 1985, Water quality for agriculture. FAO Irrigation and Drainage paper, 29, Rev. 1, Rome.
Aziz, MA & Al-Ali, JM 2014, Application of geo-informatics on mapping the desertification sensitivity in Kuwait. Bulletin of The Egyptian Geographical Society, 87:28-53. 
Babylon Agriculture Directorate 2020, Agricultural statistics division. Unpublished data.     
Bakr, N, Weindorf, DC, Bahnassy, MH & El-Badawi, MM 2012, Multi-temporal assessment of land sensitivity to desertification in a fragile agro-ecosystem: Environmental indicators, Ecological Indicators 15: 271-280. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2011.09.034.                  
Basso,  F, Bove,  E, Dumontet,  S, Ferrara,  A, Pisante,  M, Quaranta, G &  Taberner,  M 2000,  Evaluating environmental sensitivity at the basin scale through the use of geographic information systems and remotely sensed data: An example covering the Agribasin (Southern Italy). Catena 40: 19-35. DOI: 10.1016/S0341-8162(99)00062-4.                      
Buringh, P 1960, Soils and soil conditions in Iraq. Ministry of Agriculture, Baghdad, Iraq, 118 p.
Chaney, K & Swift, RS 2005, The influence of organic matter on aggregate stability in some British soils. Journal of Soil Science, 35: 223-230, DOI :10.1111/j.1365-2389. 1984.tb00278. x.                 
Contador, JF, Schnabel, S, Gutie´rrez, AG & Ferna´ Ndez, MP 2009, Mapping sensitivity to land degradation in Extremadura. SW Spain. Land Degradation & Development, 20: 129-144, DOI: 10.1002/Ldr.884.                
Díaz Peñ̃a,  FJ,  Sanchez-Hernandez,  JC & Notario, JS 2021, Effects of irrigation management on arid soil enzyme activities. Journal of Arid Environments, 185.104330, DOI: 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2020.104330.
Dubovyk, O, Menz, G, Conrad, C, Kan, E, Machwitz, M & Khamzina, A 2013, Spatio-temporal analyses of cropland degradation in the irrigated lowlands of Uzbekistan using remote-sensing and logistic regression modelling. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 185: 4775-4790, DOI: 10.1007/s10661-012-2904-6.        
EI Hassan, IM  2004, Desertification monitoring using remote sensing technology, International Conference on Water Resources & Arid Environment. 15 p.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) 1973, Calcareous Soils. Iraqi Bulletin, 21: FAO, Rome.
Guo, Q, Fu, B, Shi, P, Cudahy, T, Zhang, J & Xu, H 2017, Satellite monitoring the spatial-temporal dynamics of desertification in response to climate change and human activities across the Ordos Plateau, China. Remote Sensing, 9: 525, DOI:10.3390/rs9060525.  
Hassan, KF 2012, Effects of calcium carbonate on the erodibility of some calcareous soils by water erosion. Mesopotamia Journal of Agriculture, 40: 11-19, DOI: 10.33899/Magrj.2012.60183
Iqbal, J, Thomasson, JA, Jenkins, N, Owens, PR & Whisler, FD 2005, Spatial variability analysis of soil physical properties of alluvial soils. Soil Science Society of American Journal, 69: 1338-1350. DOI: 10.2136/sssaj2004.0154.   
Kamel, A, Ali, H, Ghaleb, F, Mario, M & Tony, G 2015, GIS-based mapping of Areas Sensitive to Desertification in a Semi-Arid Region in Lebanon. South-Eastern European Journal of Earth Observation and Geomatics, 4: 91-103.                            
Karamesouti, M, Panagos, P & Kosmas, C 2018, Model-based Spatio-temporal analysis of land desertification risk in Greece. CATENA,  167: 266-275,  DOI: 10.1016/j.catena.2018.04.042.    
Kosmas, C, Kirkby, M & Geeson, N 1999, The Medalus project Mediterranean desertification and land use manual on key indicators of desertification and mapping environmentally sensitive areas to desertification. Project ENV4CT95 0119, European Environment and Climate Research Program. European Commission.     
Obead, FI & Jerry, AN  2019, Effect of Irrigation Water Quality and Spraying with Tocopherol on Na, K, K+/Na+ and Cl- and chemical components of Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus L. Moench), Basrah Journal of Agricultural Science, 32 (Special Issue): 291-301. DOI: org/10.37077/25200860.2019.178
Porevdorj, T 1998, The Estimation of percent green vegetation cover using AVHRR data: Application to Mongolian grassland. Graduate School of Science and Technology, Chiba University, Japan.                         
Rasmy, M, Gad, A, Abdelsalam, H & Siwailam, M 2010, A dynamic simulation model of desertification in Egypt. The Egyptian Journal of Remote Sensing and Space Sciences, 13: 101-111, DOI: 10.1016/j.ejrs.2010.03.001.
Rouse, JW, Hass, RH, Schell, JA & Deering, DW 1973, Monitoring vegetation systems in the Great Plains with ERTS. 3rd Symposium, NASA SP-351: 309 - 317, Washington DC.
Salvati, L & Bajocco, S 2011, Land sensitivity to desertification across Italy: Past, present, and future. Applied Geography, 31: 223-231, DOI: 10.1016/j.apgeog.2010.04.006.
Salvati, L, Bajocco, S, Ceccarelli, T, Zitti, M & Perini, L 2011, Towards a process-based evaluation of land vulnerability to soil degradation in Italy. Ecological Indicators, 11: 1216-1227, DOI: 10.1016 /j.ecolind.2010.12.024.                           
Sepehr,  A,  Hassanli,  AM,  Ekhtesasi,  MR &  Jamali,  JB  2007, Quantitative assessment of desertification in the south of Iran using MEDALUS method. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 134: 243-254,  DOI: 10.1007/s10661-007-9613-       
Soil Science Division Staff 2017, Soil survey manual. USDA, Handbook No.18, pp. 202-2014.
Soil Survey Staff, 1951, Soil Survey Manual. USDA-SCS. Agricultural Handbook 18. Washington DC, USA, Government Printing Office, 235 p.   
Soil Survey Staff 2010, Keys to soil taxonomy, 11th ed. USDA-NRCS. GPO, Washington.  
Symeonakis, E, Karathanasis, N, Koukoulas S & Panagopoulos, G 2014, Monitoring sensitivity to land degradation and desertification with the environmentally sensitive area index: The case of Lesvos Island. Land Degradation & Development, 27: 1562-1573, DOI: 10.1002/ldr.2285.      
The General Authority for Meteorology and Seismic Monitoring 2019, Department of Climate, unpublished data from 1997-2020.
UNEP 1991, Global digital datasets for land degradation stydies: A GIS Approach. GRID Global Resource Information Database, Case Study Series, No. 4, Nairobi.