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Yugoslav newspaper "Agricultural Worker", Professor I. Vučić. No. 1429 and No. 1430, November 26, 1982

The world is fighting for more food production

"Miracle" in the Ararat valley

    In the Socialist Soviet Republic of Armenia, specialists using a unique reclamation method turned desert salt marshes into fruit-bearing ones in record time.


    A stay in Yerevan and the opportunity to get acquainted with the work and achievements of the Institute of Soil Science and Agrochemistry of the Armenian SSR is extremely useful for any specialist in this field. The picture of the application of the solonchak soil reclamation method, which can be observed at the experimental station of the institute, as well as in wide practice on a thousand hectares, seems truly unique and unique in the world. The experiments carried out in the Armenian SSR are also of great interest for our country, where significant land areas in Vojvodina are saline, although it is clear that there is no universal solution for each specific case of melioration.

The Institute of Soil Science and Agrochemistry is located in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. The city was founded 2,800 years ago and is considered one of the oldest cities in the world. Armenia is distinguished by a huge number of historical monuments and is often called an "open-air museum"


The face of a harsh desert

    The natural conditions of Armenia are not favorable for agriculture, since its landscape is mainly hills and highlands. Only 18% of the entire area of Armenia is cultivated land, of which two thirds are located on rocky slopes with infertile soil. And only the left bank of the Arak River in the Ararat Valley provides a rich harvest of fruits, vegetables, grapes, and herbs for the successful development of animal husbandry. Meanwhile, significant areas of land in this plain are saline and alkaline and contain a significant amount of soda. On these massifs there are the most malicious saline deserts, huge "spots" of cracked whitish soil, covered with sparse and frail vegetation.

Such solonchaks were formed as a result of the accumulation of water passing into the plain through basalt and volcanic rocks, where they were enriched with sodium group salts, chlorides, sulfates and carbonates, which then precipitated in the process of slow outflow of groundwater and groundwater.


    Such saline spaces are found in different parts of the world, and the very fact that they are still poorly used for agricultural purposes suggests that irrigation work on these lands is often a very big problem. However, it can also be said that research work on the transformation of such soils into fertile ones is carried out everywhere with varying success and the use of various methods of improving soils, depending on their composition and the percentage of salinity, reduced both by washing the soil and by adding gypsum to transform sodium into calcium.


   Specialists of the Institute of Soil Science and Agrochemistry in Yerevan came to the conclusion that the introduction of gypsum into the soil is an inefficient method in which the process of soil improvement is too slow and came to the conclusion that, unlike other countries, soil improvement is not advisable only in the arable layer , radical work is needed related to the improvement of the depth of the entire profile.


    In this regard, on the experimental field of the Institute, the technology of developing solonchak reclamation is being studied and developed, and numerous experiments are being carried out on improved soils, from agrotechnical methods of watering, tillage, cultivation methods and irrigation regime to numerous varieties of fruit and grapes, various cereals and herbs, etc. cultures. For individual operations, special machines are designed in cooperation with the Institute of Mechanization and Electrification of Agriculture, drainage issues / in the horizontal and vertical direction / are solved jointly with the Institute of Water Management.


Testing science in practice

    When, after several years, the first results were obtained that made it possible to improve the reclamation process as a whole, ready-made recipes began to be introduced into practice. Currently, under the leadership of the Institute of Soil Science and Agrochemistry in Armenia, many thousands of hectares of solonchaks are being rehabilitated, which are then transferred to agricultural organizations for use.

We had the opportunity to view the complex of land reclamation works of this year, which is located on an area of 6,000 hectares, and directly observe the practical implementation of land reclamation work in the Ararat plain.


   Bearing in mind the fact that in the areas where reclamation work was carried out with artificial irrigation, this year yields per hectare of arable land were achieved: more than 55 centners of wheat, more than 150 centners of alfalfa hay, about 500 centners of green mass of pink geranium (the extract is used in cosmetics), 350 centners of apples, pears, watermelons, tomatoes and other vegetables and fruits - we think it would be interesting to follow the process of melioration of salt marshes in this area, because it differs significantly from the widely known methods of melioration currently used in other areas of the world.


    In the tourist brochures of Armenia, a prominent American is quoted as saying that "if he were asked in which part of the world you can see the most "miracles", he would answer that in Armenia ..." We must join this statement and from our point of view - specialists in the field of land reclamation, because it is truly a "miracle" that the crop of cultivated plants in the former saline areas often does not differ in quality and quantity from the same crops grown on normal lands.


  Land reclamation technology

    In Armenia, gypsum is not used as a reclamation agent, but sulfuric acid or iron vitriol is used - waste from the chemical and mining industries. The alkaline reaction of the soil in this way is very quickly neutralized, sodium carbonates turn into sulfates and are easily washed out, and during chemical reactions, the released calcium replaces the sodium complex, which generally leads to the fact that the soil treated in this way becomes quickly capable of fruiting and in four to five years of agricultural use, the rest of the salts are completely washed out of it.


   The technology for improving such soils includes a set of measures taken.

    First of all, a land drainage system is being built, because this measure is the basis of land reclamation, and at the same time an artificial irrigation system is being built, without which it is impossible to carry out a complex of land reclamation works, as well as to obtain crops. At the same time, it should be noted that only 250 millimeters of precipitation falls in this region of Armenia, that is, less than half of the profile of Vojvodina.

Then the lands are leveled for a more even distribution of reclamation means, especially when sulfuric acid is applied and to facilitate the process of leaching salts. After that, the lands are subjected to deep cultivation to a depth of 60 to 100 centimeters, which contributes to the deepest penetration into the soil, poppy of the applied chemicals as well as water and moisture. Ameliorants are introduced into the soil. The concentration and amount of sulfuric acid introduced is regulated by special dispensers. If ferrous sulfate is introduced into the soil, it is spread over the soil surface by a specially designed machine and mixed. The completion of the entire reclamation cycle of work is carried out by washing to wash salt out of the soil.


   The described method does not set itself the task of completely washing out salts from the soil; with its help, only a decrease in its concentration is achieved below the line beyond which it becomes harmful for growing cultivated plants. In the future, the residual amount of salts is removed from the soil during irrigation with high rates and a number of agrotechnical measures necessary to care for the grown plants.


    Soil reclamation for health improvement begins in the spring, and in the fall, the leaching of salts is completed, and then in the same year the land is sown with winter wheat. Wheat sprouts are an indicator of the success of the reclamation work carried out and a test of their quality, as well as a sure sign of where the land should be re-cultivated. Then alfalfa is grown on these soils for three to four years, which contributes to the leaching of residual salts, for which it is necessary to increase the irrigation rate by 25-50 percent, which contributes to a deeper penetration of water into the soil. First, they are watered with a flood, then, when the salts are removed from the soil, the arable land is transferred to the normal irrigation regime and you can proceed to irrigation with artificial rain and furrows. When planting fruits, a stationary installation with artificial rain is used, when sowing wheat and alfalfa, a mobile watering installation "Volzhanka" is used. The territories occupied by vegetables and geraniums are watered with a stationary sprinkler using water from vertical drainage wells.

    Statistical data show that the investment spent on soil improvement using the above method is compensated for in three to six years, depending on the intensity of land exploitation.


    At present, the lands healed by reclamation look like an oasis in the desert, but we are absolutely sure that in the near future the entire Ararat valley will turn green, over which, like a wise old gray-haired legend, proud Ararat carries its watchful guard. But in reality, the wise guardian and inspirer of the whole complex of land reclamation works to turn lifeless solonchaks into fertile lands is the director of the Institute of Soil Science and Agrochemistry in Yerevan, Dr. Grant Petrovich Petrosyan, who puts all his strength, and one might say himself, into research experiments and production of land reclamation works in Armenia. And his head is white, like the peak of Ararat, and this is the imprint of wisdom and experience of many years of life, as well as a guarantee that all the grandiose undertaking to improve saline soils in Armenia will be successfully completed.


Professor I. Vučić


Yugoslav newspaper

"Agricultural Worker" No. 1429 and No. 1430, November 26, 1982

The world is fighting for more food production.

"Miracle" in the Ararat valley. Professor I. Vučić

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