Component F: Develop methodologies to improve soil, agronomic, irrigation water and drainage management for salinity control
The objective of the Component F is to identify the best soil, agronomic, irrigation and drainage management practices for salinity management at the farm level. Based on the land quality classification, governorates with low to medium salinity (6-20 dS/m) were identified from which districts with the lowest land quality were chosen. Three sites were selected in central and southern Iraq to cover areas suffering from salinity to carry out the study: Dujaila in Wasit Governorate; Musayab in Babil Governorate and Abu-AlKhaseeb in Basrah Governorate. Thirteen outstanding farmers were selected at Dujaila, 17 at Musayab, and 15 at Abu-Alkhaseeb. The criteria for the selection of outstanding farmers was based on their records of marketed crops in addition to the field trips made by the staff to check the actual field situation including the best-bet salinity management techniques they practice. Results of the analysis indicates that outstanding farmers use a range of best-bet practices, these include practices such as leveling of land before planting, applying a heavy irrigation prior to planting (preseason leaching), post-harvest mixing of crop residues with soil, use of rotation, use of high tolerant crop to salinity for 2 to 3 seasons before cultivation of wheat, drain or deep ditch around the farmlands, and deep plowing to breakdown the hardpan below plow layer. Detailed analyses of these best-bet practices are being done now to understand their cost-benefit ratios, scientific explanations for their effectiveness, and their long-term sustainability in managing salinity.