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This book reviews the distribution of soils across Egypt, their history, genesis, pollution and management. The conservation of Egyptian soils, soils and their connections to human activities, as well as some future soil issues are also highlighted. It is well known that soil is the main source for food, feed, fuel and fiber production. Accordingly, the study of soils is not only a crucial issue but also an urgent task for all nations worldwide. Due to their important roles in agroecosystems as well as many aspects of our lives, soils have direct and indirect functions in the agricultural, industrial and medicinal sectors. Therefore, understanding the physical, chemical and biological properties of soils, as well as soil security, have now become emerging issues. Climate change has a very dangerous dimension in Egypt concerning the rising sea level. Many coastal zones are already threatened by this sea level rise, and may ultimately disappear. At the same time, water shortages and soil pollution represent the main challenges for the Egyptian nation. Generally speaking, the environmental challenges that Egypt now faces include improving and sustaining soil health, soil carbon sequestration, wastewater treatment, and avoiding the overuse of fertilizers and pesticides. Therefore, this book examines in detail the soils of Egypt from various perspectives including their genesis, history, classification, pollution and degradation, soil security, soil fertility and land uses.



Chapter 1. Introduction

Egypt is one of the most old countries worldwide. It has a great history and an amazing civilization. This civilization established and flowered on the two sides of the Nile River. Depending on both the freshwater from the Nile and fertile soils, this civilization is extended for thousands of years. The wonderful location of Egypt besides the temperate weather, the metal wealth, and oil, they enforced Egypt to be a prey to the colonists. So, several colonists tried to occupy the Egyptian lands but it has been destroyed and overcame these enemies. Therefore, the Egyptian soils were and still the domain factor in agricultural production. These soils have several functions in our life associated with the goals of UN sustainable development as well as the ecosystem services. These soil-related ecosystem services also could be subdivided into regulating, provisioning, and cultural subgroups. So, this book is an attempt to discuss the Egyptian soils including the following issues: the historical research of Egyptian soils, the climate and its changes, soil pollution , soil maps and major soil types, soil fertility, and its security, as well as future soil issues.
Hassan El-Ramady, Tarek Alshaal, Ahmed S. El-Henawy, Mohamed S. Shams

Chapter 2. Soil Research History

No doubt that soil is not only a vital component in the agroecosystem but also was the backbone of the Egyptian civilization . This civilization was supported by the Nile and siltation of Egyptian soils. This link between soils and this Egyptian civilization was also built on the history of both humans and soils. Therefore, soils have gained great interest since the ancient Egyptians and could be noticed that from their paintings on their temples. Concerning the education of soils in Egypt, it started since a long time from the Pharaohs and continues till now in different institutions including universities and scientific research centers such as agricultural research center , desert research center , Egyptian atomic energy authority , national research center , national authority for remote sensing and space sciences , desert development center , and Egyptian soil science society . The teaching of soil sciences also could be found in the technical education (the agricultural sector) in Egyptian secondary schools. Therefore, the aim of this chapter is an attempt for understanding the ancient history of research and education of soils in Egypt.
Hassan El-Ramady, Tarek Alshaal, Saber A. Gaheen

Chapter 3. Egyptian Natural Resources

Abstract: The Arab Republic of Egypt is the main northeastern entrance of Africa continent. The total area of Egypt territory is around one million square kilometer and occupied by approximately 95 million inhabitants who live on about 4% of this area. This chapter presents an overview of the land, water, and human resources in Egypt. Egypt land is geographically divided into five sections: Western Desert, Eastern Desert, Sinai Peninsula, Nile Valley, and Nile Delta. These sections involve 33 soil units in which sandy areas and loamy sand/sandy loam soils cover over 57% of their surface. Despite that, agriculture is the fundamental economic activity in Egypt. The Egyptian agricultural lands could be classified as Oldlands and Newlands. The Oldlands are assigned for the fertile and intensively cultivated lands in Nile Valley and Delta that have been farmed since ancient time till now, whereas the newly reclaimed areas that have been cultivated relatively recently or in the process of reclamation now are known as Newlands. The natural water resources in Egypt are inadequate since the primary water source is the annually fixed share of Nile River of 55.5 BCM that is utilized for almost all human activities despite the high growth rate of population. The Egyptian government adopts strategies to utilize the non-conventional water resources (mainly recycled agricultural drainage, shallow groundwater, and treated wastewater) in irrigation as the agricultural sector consumes 80–85% of available freshwater in Egypt. At the administrative level, Egypt involves 27 governorates in which New Valley governorate represented 42% of total Egypt’s area and occupied with only 0.25% of the Egypt total population. Conversely, the Great Cairo (involves Cairo, Giza, and Kalyoubia governorates) occupied by around 25% of the total population. Agricultural sector supports the livelihood to approximately two-thirds of the Egyptians and considers the primary source of income to about 60% of Egyptians.
Noura Bakr, Mohamed H. Bahnassy

Chapter 4. Land Use/Land Cover and Vegetation Status

With an area around one million square kilometers, five land use/land cover (LULC) classes are distinguished in Egypt, namely, agricultural land, barren land, urban areas, natural vegetation (aquatic and terrestrial), and water bodies. In this chapter, each LULC class is discussed, and their changes are briefly introduced. The LULC in Egypt is not enormously varied as over 90% of Egypt soils are desert, and other economic activities and settlement existed in around 4 to 5%. Although the agricultural land represents around 4% of the total area, the agricultural sector is a crucial player in the Egyptian economy. The old cultivated land (Oldlands) are observed in the Nile Valley and Delta, whereas, the Newlands represent the horizontal expansion in the desert, mainly around the fringes of the Nile Delta. Wheat, rice, barley, and maize are the main cultivated cereal crops that are recognized in Egypt. Both cereal crops yield and their cultivation extend are almost doubled within the last five decades. Barren lands are observed in three locations, western desert, eastern desert, and the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt oases and depressions locate in the western desert, the Red Sea Mountains are in the eastern desert, and the highest spot in Egypt (St. Catherine Mountain) locates in the Sinai Peninsula. The urban sprawl is one of the main anthropogenic challenges that causes an observed change in LULC in Egypt. Thus, the government adopts several policies to relocate Egyptian outside the Nile Valley and Delta regions by constructing new communities in the desert and conserved the Oldlands from being lost due to the urban sprawl. Besides Nile River and its branches, other water bodies such as the five northern lakes, Nasser Lake, and Toshka depression are recognized. The northern lakes are subjected to change as a result of both environmental and anthropogenic impacts.
Noura Bakr, Mohamed H. Bahnassy

Chapter 5. Climate

There is no doubt that climate change nowadays is considered one of the hottest spots worldwide. These changes in climate penetrated all fields in our life including agriculture, soil, water, air, etc. and climate has a deciding role in all agricultural systems. The distribution of crops in different geographical regions and the selection of cropping patterns mainly depend on climate. All plant growth stages including seed germination and its growth, flowering, fruiting, and ripening are also mainly controlled by different climatic elements (e.g., moisture, temperature and day length). Therefore, the cultivation and management of cultivated crops require a proper weather and suitable climatic conditions. Due to the mismanagement of soil and burning fossil fuels, emissions of greenhouse gases have alarmingly increased. In Egypt, climate changes have three serious dimensions representing in the threat of sinking of the Nile Delta, water crisis and the decrease in crop production. Therefore, this chapter will focus on climate and its parameter variations in Egypt as well as expected effects from these changes mainly on water crisis and the production of crops.
Samia El-Marsafawy, Noura Bakr, Tamer Elbana, Hassan El-Ramady

Chapter 6. Geology

Egypt consists of four main geological areas, Nile River valley and its delta, Western Desert, Eastern Desert, and Sinai Peninsula. The Nile Valley broadens gradually toward the north of Egypt and it is bounded by several sedimentary basins and desert sands that have been settled upon fluvial soils. The Nile Valley has three geomorphological units: the young alluvial plain, older alluvial plains, and the limestone plateau. The Nile Delta is one of the earliest identified deltaic systems in the world. It was formed by the sedimentary processes between the upper Miocene and present, then it was built up by the alluvium delivered by the old seven active branches of the Nile which flowed through the delta, then humans and nature have closed five branches. The remaining two branches are called Rosetta and Damietta. The Nile Delta is an area of fertile alluvial soils that consists of Nile deposits due to the frequent flooding during geological periods. Several shallow lagoons were developed along the Mediterranean coast and connected to the sea by small openings (Bogaz), in the sand barriers. The Eastern Desert is a part of the Arabian Nubian Shield (Shield is a collage of Neoproterozoic tectonostratigraphic terrains linked to ophiolite-decorated sutures). This desert is generally a huge and rough mountainous terrain composed of Precambrian basement (igneous and metamorphic) rocks. As well, the Eastern Desert is characterized by mountains, plateaus, and vast wadis. The Western Desert as a vast plateau desert involves the most well-known Egyptian oases (i.e., Siwa, Bahariya, Farafra, Kharga, and Dakhla) and some of the coastal basins. The landscape and shape the surface of this desert are modified by fluvial (dominant process shaping the land surface when the water movement is available) and aeolian actions (dominant where water resources are more limited). This desert is characterized by sand dunes and sand seas and many plateaus. Sinai Peninsula is the most attractive region from the geological standpoint in Egypt. This peninsula is located between the Mediterranean Sea on the north and the Red Sea on the south, Suez Gulf on the west, and Aqaba Gulf on the east. Its shape is triangular with apex formed by the connection of two Gulfs: Aqaba and Suez, and base by the Mediterranean coastline. It is characterized by very rough mountains formed by igneous and metamorphic rocks in the south, and limestone plateau in the middle and north.
Heba Elbasiouny, Fathy Elbehiry

Chapter 7. Soil Geography

Egypt has a total area of about one million km2, under arid and hyperarid climatic conditions, of which only a small portion (8% of total area) is arable land and the rest of area is barren desert. Almost percent of arable land area are occupied by more than 100 million inhabitants, who are mainly concentrated in the Nile Valley and the delta as well as in the north coastal zone along the Mediterranean Sea. Egypt contains five physiographic zones having specific attributes of resource base, climatic features, soil and geomorphological characteristics, land cover and land use situation, and socioeconomic implications. Therefore, it is found appropriate to formulate programs comprised of subcomponents geared to address the specific attributes in each of the physiographic zones distinguished as follows: Eastern Desert , Western Desert , northern western coast, Sinai Peninsula , and Nile Valley and Delta. The soils types of Egypt are the alluvial soils of the delta and valley, the calcareous soils along the coastal littoral of Egypt, the soils of the Eastern and Western Deserts as well as the soils of Sinai Peninsula. The major alluvial soils were formed from the suspended solid matter of the Nile and dry wadis in the desert, which were deposited during the flood season. Remote sensing (RS), GPS, and geographic information system (GIS) technologies are emerging as indispensable tools in the study and mapping of dynamic phenomenon having spatial and temporal characteristics. The objective of this book chapter is to study the different soil types in Egypt using new information technology such as remote sensing, GPs, and GIS.
Abdel-Aziz Belal, Elsayed Mohamed, Ahmed Saleh, Mohamed Jalhoum

Chapter 8. Soil Fertility and Its Security

No doubt that soil and its fertility are considered one of the main factors, which control the agricultural production. So, the soil fertility should be linked with different securities including water, food and soil security to perform the holistic sustainable development. Concerning the fertility of Egyptian soils, this fertility differs with different geological zones of these soils as well as the historical background of soil formation (i.e. factors and processes of soil forming). Generally, the soils of the Nile Delta are the most fertile and mainly represent the basket of food production in Egypt. The fertility of Egyptian soils suffers from the decline after building the Aswan High Dam and stopping the sedimentation of clay and/or silt particles. So, the deterioration of the quality or fertility of Egyptian soils is resulted from the absence of silt from the Nile flooding and crop intensification. Therefore, new approaches should be followed to maintain and sustain the fertility of Egyptian soils such as the precision farming and nanotechnology.
Hassan El-Ramady, Tarek Alshaal, Sarwat Yousef, Shaimaa Elmahdy, Salah E. -D. Faizy, Megahed Amer, Hassan Shams El-Din, Ayman M. El-Ghamry, Ahmed A. Mousa, József Prokisch, Nicola Senesi

Chapter 9. Land Degradation

Soil degradation issue is one of the most important factors that threaten the crop production, thereby reflecting on food security. When discussing this issue, it must take into account the factors of surrounding, such as geographical location and climate in addition to social and economic conditions. This chapter illustrates the factors causing land degradation in Egypt as an example of semi-arid condition. It was noted that, under Egyptian conditions, there are many factors that differ from one place to another. Salinization, alkalinization and waterlogging are the most common factors in North Nile Delta. In addition, the rest of the Egyptian territories suffer from urban encroachment due to the high population density, where it was noted that the area located between the main branches of Nile Delta Rosetta and Damietta has lost 30510 acres during 1984–2014 where it is converted to urban areas. Finally, this chapter reviews the different methods used to assess land degradation using advanced techniques.
Elsayed Mohamed, Abdel-Aziz Belal, R. R. Ali, Ahmed Saleh, Ehab A. Hendawy

Chapter 10. Soil Health and Its Biology

It is well known that, the health of humans is mainly depends on the physical, social and nutrient factors. The health of humans requires safe, proper and sufficient supply of nutrients through the foods. This quality of foods mainly depends on the biology, fertility and quality of soils, in which crops were cultivated. Thus, the biology of soils has direct and/or indirect effects on the health of humans through the exposure to soils and their microorganisms, extract different medicines from soils and deficiency of nutrients through food chain. The biology of soils also has a close relationship with the nutrition of both plants and humans. Therefore, soil quality and its biology is a crucial issue towards sustainable agriculture. Thus, the main purpose of this book chapter is to emphasize the link between soil quality through its biology and human health. The great roles of soils in our life also will be highlighted.
Tarek Alshaal, Hassan El-Ramady, Nevien Elhawat, Sahar El-Nahrawy, Alaa El-Dein Omara, Tamer Elsakhawy, Azza Ghazi, Mohamed H. Abbas, Ihab M. Farid, Neama Abdalla, Miklós Fári, Éva Domokos-Szabolcsy

Chapter 11. Soil Chemical Pollution and Sustainable Agriculture

Sources of the agricultural soil pollution in Egypt include the utilization of agrochemicals, the reuse of agricultural drainage water, the recycling of the partially treated wastewater, the contaminated air, and the improper disposing of solid wastes. These various sources pose a real threat to the sustainable agricultural system and human health. In this chapter, we reviewed the sources and fate of the organic and inorganic pollutants in Egyptian soils. In brief, we explained sorption, mobility, and degradation properties of contaminants and their rules for realizing proper management of contaminated soils. Also, we reviewed the status of soils contamination with heavy metals and pesticides. Notably, the fate of the contaminants in soils depends on its characteristics and soil properties as well as the surrounding environmental condition. Therefore, the management of contaminated soils is a site-specific process. Such management can be ensured through prevention, remediation, and adaptation approaches. The literature review revealed the need to develop and implement a national plan for preventing soil pollution in the newly reclaimed areas. Besides, the necessity for providing a well-defined Egyptian guideline for managing contaminated sites in old agricultural lands.
Tamer Elbana, Hesham M. Gaber, Fawzy M. Kishk

Chapter 12. Soils and Humans

Soil has a great and holy position worldwide. This position has been acquired from the importance of soil in saving food, feed, fuel, and fibre for animals and humans. Egypt was and still one of the most important countries, which soils played a crucial role in the Egyptian civilization. Therefore, very strong link between soils and humans has been reported based on the great roles of soils in plant and human nutrition. On the other hand, there are several anthropogenic activities, which cause many problems for soils such as pollution, degradation, and erosion. There are direct and/or indirect effects of soils on human health as well as plants. Therefore, this chapter is an attempt to emphasize the great roles of soils in plant and human health as well as the security of soils under pollution conditions.
Hassan El-Ramady, Tarek Alshaal, Tamer Elsakhawy, Alaa El-Dein Omara, Neama Abdalla, Eric C. Brevik

Chapter 13. Future Soil Issues

Soils are among the key resources of sustainable development in Egypt. There would be no development, in any nation, without policies and implementation for soil protection, conservation, and sustainability. This is due to the role soils play in almost all fields, including agriculture and its subsectors (farming of animals and plants to produce food, feed, fiber, fuel, etc.), as well as the industrial sector. Egypt faces, currently, great and serious challenges related to the changes in land use, new challenges for soil sciences scientists. Other important future soil issues include the role of soils in global climate changes mitigation/adaptation, establishment of soil protection law, and enforcing it. To solve emerging soil-related problems in Egypt, potential contributions from soil scientists, policymakers, and society are expected. Therefore, this chapter is an attempt to focus on emerging concern on soil and to suggest suitable solutions under the Egyptian conditions.
Hassan El-Ramady, Tarek Alshaal, Hamada Abdelrahman, Omar El-Hady


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