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10 July 2020, Volume 12 Issue 4 Previous Issue    Next Issue
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Research article
Integrating water use systems and soil and water conservation measures into a hydrological model of an Iranian Wadi system
Journal of Arid Land. 2020, 12 (4): 545-560.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-020-0125-3
Abstract ( 209 )   HTML ( 26 )     PDF (1478KB) ( 430 )  

Water resources are precious in arid and semi-arid areas such as the Wadis of Iran. To sustainably manage these limited water resources, the residents of the Iranian Wadis have been traditionally using several water use systems (WUSs) which affect natural hydrological processes. In this study, WUSs and soil and water conservation measures (SWCMs) were integrated in a hydrological model of the Halilrood Basin in Iran. The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model was used to simulate the hydrological processes between 1993 and 2009 at daily time scale. To assess the importance of WUSs and SWCMs, we compared a model setup without WUSs and SWCMs (Default model) with a model setup with WUSs and SWCMs (WUS-SWCM model). When compared to the observed daily stream flow, the number of acceptable calibration runs as defined by the performance thresholds (Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency (NSE)≥0.68, -25%≤percent bias (PBIAS)≤25% and ratio of standard deviation (RSR)≤0.56) is 177 for the Default model and 1945 for the WUS-SWCM model. Also, the average Kling-Gupta ef?ciency (KGE) of acceptable calibration runs for the WUS-SWCM model is higher in both calibration and validation periods. When WUSs and SWCMs are implemented, surface runoff (between 30% and 99%) and water yield (between 0 and 18%) decreased in all sub-basins. Moreover, SWCMs lead to a higher contribution of groundwater flow to the channel and compensate for the extracted water by WUSs from the shallow aquifer. In summary, implementing WUSs and SWCMs in the SWAT model enhances model plausibility significantly.

Spatial-temporal characteristics of drought detected from meteorological data with high resolution in Shaanxi Province, China
WANG Yudan, KONG Yunfeng, CHEN Hao, DING Yongjian
Journal of Arid Land. 2020, 12 (4): 561-579.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-020-0066-x
Abstract ( 205 )   HTML ( 147 )     PDF (2112KB) ( 557 )  

The spatial pattern of meteorological factors cannot be accurately simulated by using observations from meteorological stations (OMS) that are distributed sparsely in complex terrain. It is expected that the spatial-temporal characteristics of drought in regions with complex terrain can be better represented by meteorological data with the high spatial-temporal resolution and accuracy. In this study, Standard Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI) calculated with meteorological factors extracted from ITPCAS (China Meteorological Forcing Dataset produced by the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences) was applied to identify the spatial-temporal characteristics of drought in Shaanxi Province of China, during the period of 1979-2016. Drought areas detected by SPEI calculated with data from ITPCAS (SPEI-ITPCAS) on the seasonal scale were validated by historical drought records from the Chinese Meteorological Disaster Canon-Shaanxi, and compared with drought areas detected by SPEI calculated with data from OMS (SPEI-OMS). Drought intensity, trend and temporal ranges for mutations of SPEI-ITPCAS were analyzed by using the cumulative drought intensity (CDI) index and the Mann-Kendall test. The results indicated that drought areas detected from SPEI-ITPCAS were closer to the historical drought records than those detected from SPEI-OMS. Severe and exceptional drought events with SPEI-ITPCAS lower than -1.0 occurred most frequently in summer, followed by spring. There was a general drying trend in spring and summer in Shaanxi Province and a significant wetting trend in autumn and winter in northern Shaanxi Province. On seasonal and annual scales, the regional and temporal ranges for mutations of SPEI-ITPCAS were different and most mutations occurred before the year 1990 in most regions of Shaanxi Province. The results reflect the response of different regions of Shaanxi Province to climate change, which will help to manage regional water resources.

Evaluating agricultural water-use efficiency based on water footprint of crop values: a case study in Xinjiang of China
HAI Yang, LONG Aihua, ZHANG Pei, DENG Xiaoya, LI Junfeng, DENG Mingjiang
Journal of Arid Land. 2020, 12 (4): 580-593.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-020-0058-x
Abstract ( 154 )   HTML ( 6 )     PDF (665KB) ( 687 )  

Efficient agricultural water use is crucial for food safety and water conservation on a global scale. To quantitatively investigate the agricultural water-use efficiency in regions exhibiting the complex agricultural structure, this study developed an indicator named water footprint of crop values (WFV) that is based on the water footprint of crop production. Defined as the water volume used to produce a unit price of crop (m3/CNY), the new indicator makes it feasible to directly compare the water footprint of different crops from an economic perspective, so as to comprehensively evaluate the water-use efficiency under the complex planting structure. On the basis of WFV, the study further proposed an indicator of structural water-use coefficient (SWUC), which is represented by the ratio of water-use efficiency for a given planting structure to the water efficiency for a reference crop and can quantitatively describe the impact of planting structure on agricultural water efficiency. Then, a case study was implemented in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China. The temporal and spatial variations of WFV were assessed for the planting industries in 14 prefectures and cities of Xinjiang between 1991 and 2015. In addition, contribution rate analysis of WFV for different prefectures and cities was conducted to evaluate the variations of WFV caused by different influencing factors: agricultural input, climatic factors, and planting structure. Results from these analyses indicated first that the average WFV of planting industries in Xinjiang significantly decreased from 0.293 m3/CNY in 1991 to 0.153 m3/CNY in 2015, corresponding to an average annual change rate of -3.532%. WFV in 13 prefectures and cities (with the exception of Karamay) has declined significantly during the period of 1991-2015, indicating that agricultural water-use efficient has effectively improved. Second, the average SWUC in Xinjiang decreased from 1.17 to 1.08 m3/CNY in the 1990s, and then declined to 1.00 m3/CNY in 2011-2015. The value of SWUC was highly consistent with the relative value of WFV in most prefectures and cities, showing that planting structure is one of the primary factors affecting regional agricultural water-use efficiency. Third, the contribution rate of WFV variations from human factors including agricultural input and planting structure was much more significant than that from climatic factors. However, the distribution of agricultural input and the adjustment of planting structure significantly differed among prefectures and cities, suggesting regional imbalances of agricultural development. This study indicated the feasibility and effectiveness of controlling agricultural water use through increasing technical input and rational selection of crops in the face of impending climate change. Specifically, we concluded that, the rational application of chemical fertilizers, the development of the fruit industry, and the strict restriction of the cotton industry should be implemented to improve the agricultural water-use efficiency in Xinjiang.

Land degradation sensitivity assessment and convergence analysis in Korla of Xinjiang, China
DING Jinchen, CHEN Yunzhi, WANG Xiaoqin, CAO Meiqin
Journal of Arid Land. 2020, 12 (4): 594-608.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-020-0057-y
Abstract ( 244 )   HTML ( 14 )     PDF (4423KB) ( 529 )  

Land degradation has a major impact on environmental and socio-economic sustainability. Scientific methods are necessary to monitor the risk of land degradation. In this study, the environmental sensitive area index (ESAI) was utilized to assess land degradation sensitivity and convergence analysis in Korla, a typical oasis city in Xinjiang of China, which is located on the northeast border of the Tarim Basin. A total of 18 indicators depicting soil, climate, vegetation, and management qualities were used to illustrate spatial-temporal patterns of land degradation sensitivity from 1994 to 2018. We investigated the causes of spatial convergence and divergence based on the Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) and Geographically Weighted Regression (GWR) models. The results show that the branch of the Tianshan Mountains and oasis plain had a low sensitivity to land degradation, while the Tarim Basin had a high risk of land degradation. More than two-thirds of the study area can be categorized as "critical" sensitivity classes. The largest percentage (32.6%) of fragile classes was observed for 2006. There was no significant change in insensitive or low-sensitivity areas, which accounted for less than 0.4% of the entire observation period. The ESAI of the four time periods (1994-1998, 1998-2006, 2006-2010, and 2010-2018) formed a series of convergence patterns. The convergence patterns of 1994-1998 and 1998-2006 can be explained by the government's efforts to "Returning Farmland to Forests" and other governance projects. In 2006-2010, the construction of afforested work intensified, but industrial development and human activities affected the convergence pattern. The pattern of convergence in most regions between 2010 and 2018 can be attributed to the government's implementation of a series of key ecological protection projects, which led to a decrease in sensitivity to land degradation. The results of this study altogether suggest that the ESAI convergence analysis is an effective early warning method for land degradation sensitivity.

Exploring tree diversity and stand structure of savanna woodlands in southeastern Sudan
Journal of Arid Land. 2020, 12 (4): 609-617.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-020-0076-8
Abstract ( 158 )   HTML ( 4 )     PDF (675KB) ( 654 )  

Savanna woodlands in Sudan host great biodiversity, provide a plethora of ecosystem goods and services to local communities, and sustain numerous ecological functions. Although the importance of the Acacia trees in these areas is well known, up-to-date information about these woodlands' diversity is limited and changes in their woody vegetation composition, density, diversity and relative frequency are not monitored over time. This study explored tree diversity and stand stage structure in Nuara Reserved Forest, a typical savanna woodland ecosystem in southeastern Sudan. A total of 638 circular sample plots (1000 m2 for each) were established using a systematic sampling grid method. The distance between plots was 200 m. In each plot, all living trees with diameter at breast height (DBH) ≥5.00 cm were identified and counted, and their DBH values were recorded. From these data, tree composition, diversity, density and stage structure were assessed. There were 12,259 individual trees representing four species (Acacia seyal, Balanites aegyptiaca, Acacia Senegal and Acacia mellifera) that belong to two families. The dominant species was Acacia seyal. Average tree density was 191 trees/hm2 and the Shannon-Weiner index for trees diversity was 0.204. Overall, young trees comprised 86.30% of the forest. The state of tree richness and density in the study area was low compared to other similar environments in the region and around the world. We recommended adoption of a proper management system that includes monitoring of woody vegetation diversity in this forest, and management actions to enhance tree diversity and sustain ecosystem services to local communities. In addition to care for the dominant Acacia seyal stands, more attention and conservation should be devoted to reestablishing Acacia senegal and Acacia mellifera trees because of their high ecological and economic values for local communities.

Relationship of species diversity between overstory trees and understory herbs along the environmental gradients in the Tianshan Wild Fruit Forests, Northwest China
CHENG Junhui, SHI Xiaojun, FAN Pengrui, ZHOU Xiaobing, SHENG Jiandong, ZHANG Yuanming
Journal of Arid Land. 2020, 12 (4): 618-629.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-020-0055-0
Abstract ( 239 )   HTML ( 7 )     PDF (801KB) ( 801 )  

In forest ecosystems, interactions between overstory trees and understory herbs play an important role in driving plant species diversity. However, reported links between overstory tree and understory herb species diversity have been inconsistent, due to variations in forest types and environmental conditions. Here, we measured species richness (SR) and diversity (Shannon-Wiener (H') and Simpson's (D) indices) of overstory trees and understory herbs in the protected Tianshan Wild Fruit Forest (TWFF), Northwest China, to explore their relationships along the latitudinal, longitudinal, elevational, and climatic (current climate and paleoclimate) gradients in 2018. We found that SR, and H' and D diversity indices of overstory trees and understory herbs exhibited a unimodal pattern with increasing latitude and elevation (P<0.05) and negative associations with longitude (P<0.01). Along the climatic gradients, there were U-shaped patterns in SR, and H' and D diversity indices between trees and herbs (P<0.05). SR, and H' and D diversity indices for overstory tree species were positively associated with those for understory herbs (P<0.01). These findings indicate that overstory trees and understory herbs should be protected concurrently in the TWFF to increase effectiveness of species diversity conservation programs.

Physio-biochemical and nutrient constituents of peanut plants under bentazone herbicide for broad-leaved weed control and water regimes in dry land areas
Journal of Arid Land. 2020, 12 (4): 630-639.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-020-0020-y
Abstract ( 224 )   HTML ( 8 )     PDF (391KB) ( 782 )  

The abundance of broad-leaved weeds in peanut fields represents the handicap in weed management programs, since limited specific herbicides can be recommended to control them. Moreover, the physio-biochemical constituents and nutritional status in peanut plants as affected by available herbicides, i.e., bentazone under water stress conditions are not well known. Therefore, field trials were conducted during the growing seasons in 2016 and 2017 to investigate the interactional impact of irrigation levels (I50, I75 and I100, representing irrigation by 50%, 75% and 100% of crop evapotranspiration, respectively) and weed control practices (bentazone, bentazone+hoeing once, hoeing twice and weedy check as control) on dominant broad-leaved weeds as well as peanut physiological and agronomic traits. Result indicated that the efficiency of weed control for each weeded treatment under I50 significantly equaled with its counterpart under I75 or I100. Bentazone+hoeing once diminished weed biomass by 89.3% and enhanced chlorophyll content of peanut plants by 51.2%. Bentazone relatively caused a reduction in carotenoides. Hoeing twice and bentazone+hoeing once under I100 in both growing seasons as well as hoeing twice under I75 in 2017 were the superior combinations for boosting pod yield of peanut plants. Treatment of bentazone+hoeing once and I75 recorded the lowest reduction in N utilization percentage and the highest increase in potassium utilization percentage of peanut plants. Eliminating weeds enhanced water use efficiency by 37.8%, 49.6% and 34.7% under I50, I75 and I100, respectively. In conclusion, peanut seems to be tolerant to bentazone at moderate water supply, thus it can be safely used in controlling the associated broad-leaved weeds.

Prioritizing woody species for the rehabilitation of arid lands in western Iran based on soil properties and carbon sequestration
Journal of Arid Land. 2020, 12 (4): 640-652.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-020-0013-x
Abstract ( 152 )   HTML ( 9 )     PDF (640KB) ( 450 )  

Plants are an important component in many natural ecosystems. They influence soil properties, especially in arid ecosystems. The selection of plant species based on their adaptations to site conditions is essential for rehabilitation of degraded sites and other construction sites such as check-dams. Other factors to be considered in species selection include their effects on soil properties and their abilities to meet other management objectives. The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of native (Populus euphratica Oliv. and Tamarix ramosissima Ledeb.) and introduced (Eucalyptus camaldulensis Dehnh. and Prosopis juliflora (Swartz) DC.) woody species on soil properties and carbon sequestration (CS) in an arid region of Iran. Soil sampling was collected at three soil depths (0-10, 10-20 and 20-30 cm) at the sites located under each woody species canopy and in an open area in 2017. Soil physical-chemical property was analyzed in the laboratory. The presence of a woody species changed soil characteristics and soil CS, compared with the open area. For example, the presence of a woody species caused a decrease in soil bulk density, of which the lowest value was observed under E. camaldulensis (1.38 g/cm3) compared with the open area (1.59 g/cm3). Also, all woody species significantly increased the contents of soil organic matter and total nitrogen, and introduced species had more significant effect than native species. The results showed that CS significantly increased under the canopy of all woody species in a decreasing order of P. euphratica (9.08 t/hm2)>E. camaldulensis (8.37 t/hm2)>P. juliflora (5.20 t/hm2)>T. ramosissima (2.93 t/hm2)>open area (1.33 t/hm2), thus demonstrating the positive effect of a woody species on CS. Although the plantation of non-native species had some positive effects on soil properties, we recommend increasing species diversity in plantations of native and introduced woody species to provide more diversity for the increased ecosystem services, resilience, health and long-term productivity.

Rehabilitation of degraded areas in northeastern Patagonia, Argentina: Effects of environmental conditions and plant functional traits on performance of native woody species
Juan M ZEBERIO, Carolina A PéREZ
Journal of Arid Land. 2020, 12 (4): 653-665.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-020-0021-x
Abstract ( 115 )   HTML ( 4 )     PDF (518KB) ( 694 )  

Degradation processes affect a vast area of arid and semi-arid lands around the world and damage the environment and people′s health. Degradation processes are driven by human productive activities that cause direct and indirect effects on natural resources, such as species extinction at regional scale, reduction and elimination of vegetation cover, soil erosion, etc. In this context, ecological rehabilitation is an important tool to recover key aspects of the degraded ecosystem. Rehabilitation trials rely on the use of native plant species with characteristics that allow them to obtain high survival and growth rates. The aim of this work was to assess the survival and growth of native woody species in degraded areas of northeastern Patagonia and relate them to plant functional traits and environmental variables. We observed high early and late survival rates, and growth rates in Prosopis flexuosa DC. var. depressa F.A. Roig and Schinus johnstonii F.A. Barkley, and low values in Condalia microphylla Cav. and Geoffroea decorticans (Gillies ex Hook. & Arn.) Burkart. Early survival rates were positively associated with specific leaf area (SLA) and precipitation, but negatively associated with wood density, the maximum mean temperature of the warmest month and the minimum mean temperature of the coldest month. Late survival rates were positively associated with SLA and soil organic matter, but negatively associated with plant height and precipitation. The temperature had a positive effect on late survival rates once the plants overcame the critical period of the first summer after they were transplanted to the field. Prosopis flexuosa and S. johnstonii were the most successful species in our study. This could be due to their functional traits that allow these species to acclimatize to the local environment. Further research should focus on C. microphylla and G. decorticans to determine how they relate to productive conditions, acclimation to environmental stress, auto-ecology and potential use in ecological rehabilitation trials.

Untangling the influence of soil moisture on root pullout property of alfafa plant
ZHANG Chaobo, LIU Yating, LIU Pengchong, JIANG Jing, YANG Qihong
Journal of Arid Land. 2020, 12 (4): 666-675.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-020-0017-6
Abstract ( 115 )   HTML ( 6 )     PDF (607KB) ( 573 )  

Root pullout property of plants was of key importance to the soil reinforcement and the improvement of slope stability. To investigate the influence of soil moisture on root pullout resistance and failure modes in soil reinforcement process, we conducted pullout tests on alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) roots at five levels (40, 30, 20, 10 and 6 kPa) of soil matric suction, corresponding to respectively 7.84%, 9.66%, 13.02%, 19.35% and 27.06% gravimetric soil moisture contents. Results showed that the maximal root pullout force of M. sativa decreased in a power function with increasing soil moisture content from 7.84% to 27.06%. Root slippage rate increased and breakage rate decreased with increasing soil moisture content. At 9.66% soil moisture content, root slippage rate and breakage rate was 56.41% and 43.58%, respectively. The threshold value of soil moisture content was about 9.00% for alfalfa roots in the loess soil. The maximal pullout force of M. sativa increased with root diameter in a power function. The threshold value of root diameter was 1.15 mm, because root slipping force was greater than root breaking force when diameter >1.15 mm, while diameter ≤1.15 mm, root slipping force tended to be less than root breaking force. No significant difference in pullout forces was observed between slipping roots and breaking roots when they had similar diameters. More easily obtained root tensile force (strength) is suggested to be used in root reinforcement models under the condition that the effect of root diameter is excluded as the pullout force of breaking roots measured in pullout tests is similar to the root tensile force obtained by tensile tests.

Applying seepage modeling to improve sediment yield predictions in contour ridge systems
LIU Qianjin, MA Liang, ZHANG Hanyu
Journal of Arid Land. 2020, 12 (4): 676-689.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-020-0094-6
Abstract ( 195 )   HTML ( 6 )     PDF (994KB) ( 424 )  

Contour ridge systems may lead to seepage that could result in serious soil erosion. Modeling soil erosion under seepage conditions in a contour ridge system has been overlooked in most current soil erosion models. To address the importance of seepage in soil erosion modeling, a total of 23 treatments with 3 factors, row grade, field slope and ridge height, in 5 gradients were arranged in an orthogonal rotatable central composite design. The second-order polynomial regression model for predicting the sediment yield was improved by using the measured or predicted seepage discharge as an input factor, which increased the coefficient of determination (R2) from 0.743 to 0.915 or 0.893. The improved regression models combined with the measured seepage discharge had a lower P (0.007) compared to those combined with the predicted seepage discharge (P=0.016). With the measured seepage discharge incorporated, some significant (P<0.050) effects and interactions of influential factors on sediment yield were detected, including the row grade and its interactions with the field slope, ridge height and seepage discharge, the quadratic terms of the field slope and its interactions with the row grade and seepage discharge. In the regression model with the predicted seepage discharge as an influencing factor, only the interaction between row grade and seepage discharge significantly affected the sediment yield. The regression model incorporated with predicted seepage discharge may be expressed simply and can be used effectively when measured seepage discharge data are not available.

Impacts of wind erosion and seasonal changes on soil carbon dioxide emission in southwestern Iran
Journal of Arid Land. 2020, 12 (4): 690-700.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-020-0018-5
Abstract ( 133 )   HTML ( 5 )     PDF (412KB) ( 622 )  

Wind erosion is one of the main drivers of soil loss in the world, which affects 20 million hectare land of Iran. Besides the soil loss, wind erosion contributes to carbon dioxide emission from the soil into the atmosphere. The objective of this study is to evaluate monthly and seasonal changes in carbon dioxide emission in four classes i.e., low, moderate, severe and very severe soil erosion and the interactions between air temperature and wind erosion in relation to carbon dioxide emission in the Bordekhun region, Boushehr Province, southwestern Iran. Wind erosion intensities were evaluated using IRIFR (Iran Research Institute of Forests and Ranges) model, in which four classes of soil erosion were identified. Afterward, we measured carbon dioxide emission on a monthly basis and for a period of one year using alkali traps in each class of soil erosion. Data on emission levels and erosion classes were analyzed as a factorial experiment in a completely randomized design with twelve replications in each treatment. The highest rate of emission occurred in July (4.490 g CO2/(m2?d)) in severely eroded lands and the least in January (0.086 g CO2/(m2?d)) in low eroded lands. Therefore, it is resulted that increasing erosion intensity causes an increase in soil carbon dioxide emission rate at severe erosion intensity. Moreover, the maximum amount of carbon dioxide emission happened in summer and the minimum in winter. Soil carbon dioxide emission was just related to air temperature without any relationship with soil moisture content; since changes of soil moisture in the wet and dry seasons were not high enough to affect soil microorganisms and respiration in dry areas. In general, there are complex and multiple relationships between various factors associated with soil erosion and carbon dioxide emission. Global warming causes events that lead to more erosion, which in turn increases greenhouse gas emission, and rising greenhouse gases will cause more global warming. The result of this study demonstrated the synergistic effect of wind erosion and global climate warming towards carbon dioxide emission into the atmosphere.

Cultivation effects on soil texture and fertility in an arid desert region of northwestern China
HE Mingzhu, JI Xibin, BU Dongsheng, ZHI Jinhu
Journal of Arid Land. 2020, 12 (4): 701-715.   DOI: 10.1007/s40333-020-0069-7
Abstract ( 202 )   HTML ( 10 )     PDF (1807KB) ( 528 )  

In arid desert regions of northwestern China, reclamation and subsequent irrigated cultivation have become effective ways to prevent desertification, expand arable croplands, and develop sustainable agricultural production. Improvement in soil texture and fertility is crucial to high soil quality and stable crop yield. However, knowledge on the long-term effects of the conversion of desert lands into arable croplands is very limited. To address this problem, we conducted this study in an arid desert region of northwestern China to understand the changes in soil physical-chemical properties after 0, 2, 5, 10, 17, and 24 years of cultivation. Our results showed that silt and clay contents at the 17-year-old sites increased 17.5 and 152.3 folds, respectively, compared with that at the 0-year-old sites. The soil aggregate size fraction and its stability exhibited an exponential growth trend with increasing cultivation ages, but no significant change was found for the proportion of soil macroaggregates (>5.00 mm) during the 17 years of cultivation. The soil organic carbon (SOC) content at the 24-year-old sites was 6.86 g/kg and increased 8.8 folds compared with that at the 0-year-old sites. The total (or available) nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium contents showed significant increasing trends and reached higher values after 17 (or 24) years of cultivation. Changes in soil physical-chemical properties successively experienced slow, rapid, and stable development stages, but some key properties (such as soil aggregate stability and SOC) were still too low to meet the sustainable agricultural production. The results of this long-term study indicated that reasonable agricultural management, such as expanding no-tillage land area, returning straw to the fields, applying organic fertilizer, reducing chemical fertilizer application, and carrying out soil testing for formula fertilization, is urgently needed in arid desert regions.