International Symposium on
Drylands Ecology and Human Security

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Role of Soil Management in Pistachio Orchards
Using Micromorphology Observations

Mohammad Hady Far Poor

Soil Science Department, Faculty of Agriculture, Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman, Kerman, Iran


Central part of Iran has a semi-arid to arid climate, and is suitable for pistachio production. Due to the lack of scientific research on this crop in the area, pistachio orchard men have been using different managements on their orchards.  Sand, gypsum, manure and salt are among the different treatments the orchard men have been using.  The mean annual precipitation of the area is about 130 mm. Soils of the area are gypsiferous Aridisols with different By horizons.  To study the role of soil management, two orchards around Sirjan town in Kerman province, which is the center of pistachio production in Iran, were selected as study site.  A non-cultivated and non-treated profile in this area was also studied and sampled to compare the role of different treatments the orchard men have been doing in the area.  Mean annual precipitation of the area is about 120 mm and mean temperature is about 10 oC.  As the soils of an arid to semi-arid area are poor in organic matter, manure treatment is certainly needed. The soils of the area are gypsiferous; however, gypsum treatment is still used.

The results of the study showed 8 percent gypsum and a massive microstructure in the non-cultivated and non-treated soil.  Gypsum treatment especially when added together with sand particles and mixed to the depth of one meter has increased vughs* and channels in the treated soils, which in turn improves physical properties of treated soils.  Thin sections showed that formation of gypsum interlocked plates is the reason of more and larger voids in the treated soils.  Normally, gypsum decreases soil fertility but according to the results of the present study, sometimes it is better to add gypsum to have a sustainable soil management in arid and semi-arid climates.  It is hoped that the present research will shed new light on better production techniques for pistachio which is among the main export crops of Iran.

* a specific type of pore space in the soil thin sections