Mubarak’S Garden. Land Improvement on a Dry Tropical Island in the Arabian Sea

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Abstract

Inhabited dry tropical regions are principally seen as vulnerable areas, especially if people have limited access to suitable land, fresh water and crop seeds. From the traditional, but also from the scientific point of view in some cases, it might be considered to be exceptional, indeed pointless, for people to try to improve land in such an arid environment. But for people living directly on a hypersaline coastline, experiments in crop cultivation are necessary to produce additional fruits and vegetables, using either traditional or adapted techniques of land cultivation. Soil investigations in a kitchen-garden situated on the northern coast of Soqotra Island, Yemen, show that one year of cultivation increased Corg contents from 0 up to 0.7%, and Pav contents from 100 mg kg-1 up to 230 mg kg-1 in the garden beds. A general decrease in slightly soluble salts - explained by irrigation with fresh water - is already obvious after only one year: decreasing from 6.7% slightly soluble salt in marine sand, to 0.3% slightly soluble salt in cultivated beds. A vertical increase of clay content in sediments and soils, and also an inland increase of clay content, was observed. It is hoped that this example will encourage future research on kitchen-gardens, since they have a beneficial effect on society as well as having positive environmental consequences, as seen in the present case of land improvement on Soqotra Island in the Arabian Sea

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