PRIMA S2 2020 - step 2 - PRIMA Section 2 Call multi-topics 2020

Improving Soil FERtility in Arid and semi-arid regions using Local DAte palm residues – ISFERALDA

Submission summary

The dryland soils of North African region are usually poor in organic matter, which is the cause of low fertility and productivity of soil. Oases are the main driver of arid areas economy in this region. In oases, date palm is the main source of income for farmers, but livestock is also produced. Oases also represent shelter for local population and even, in some cases, tourism. The harsh environment in the desert regions of North Africa makes these regions vulnerable to many environmental threats.
Only a minor part of date palm cultivation by-products are recovered, including for example palm branches used for fixing sand dunes, as fences in oases or for shade. Their valorization as bioresources, with a potential effect on soil fertility (and thus on oases ecosystem productivity), has received little attention to date. Based on the few available results for the maintaining of land productivity and sustainability of the oasis system, the ISFERALDA project aims to increase resilience to climate change of agroecosystem while ensuring comparable or higher incomes to local farmers in semi-arid and arid areas.
The project aims at developing the use of organic amendments based on local agriculture wastes, and more specifically the date palm residues (and optionally other vegetal or animal residues or mineral compounds), as a key tool in land restoration. Based on traditional production (composting, pyrolysis), the project will focus on refining processes and improving products’ quality and adequacy with plant needs and substrate properties.
Innovative farming systems will be developed and contribute sustainable management of date production, generating income and creating employment as well as improving environmental parameters.
The influence of different kinds of organic amendments on environment, yield, and socio-economic development will be assessed. ISFERALDA will therefore design a new strategy to support agricultural practices within a framework acceptable to local actors and in line with the objectives of circular economy of local resources and sustainable development.
The innovation potential of the project is based on a multidisciplinary and highly integrated approach.
In this project, a socio-economic analysis, based on surveys and on the cost/benefit analyses, will familiarize the farmers with the economic interest of the production and use of the proposed organic treatments. Furthermore, an assessment of the benefits for soil quality and fertility (physical, chemical and biological properties) will be conducted.
The proposed research activities include:
• Detailed description of the characteristics of each amendment studied, refinement of traditional processes,
• laboratory experiments to fully describe the properties of the different treatments and to explain the evolution of the physical, chemical and microbiological properties of the soils,
• field experiments, in four different representative sites of arid and semi-arid zones in Algeria and Tunisia.
The contacts with other stakeholders and particularly the farmers will promote, on one hand, the acceptance of these practices if they are deemed beneficial from an economic and agronomic point of view. On the other hand, it will also disseminate this new knowledge to the agricultural main actors and will upscale the results from case studies to regional and national scale across the Mediterranean Basin.

Project coordinator

Monsieur Xavier Morvan (Université de Reims Champagne Ardenne - Groupe d'Etude des Géomatériaux et Environnements Naturels, Anthropiques et Archéologiques)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


HAO-DEMETER Hellenic Agricultural Organization - DEMETER
ITDAS Technological Institute for the development of the Saharan Agriculture
URCA - GEGENAA Université de Reims Champagne Ardenne - Groupe d'Etude des Géomatériaux et Environnements Naturels, Anthropiques et Archéologiques
UMKB-university Mohamed Khider of Biskra University Mohamed Khider of Biskra
Université de Batna
IRA Arid Regions Institute of Medenine (IRESA) – University of Gabès
INRAA National Institute of Algerian agronomic research
Palm Compost

Help of the ANR 594,633 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: May 2021 - 36 Months

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