Jordan Jordan

Introduction (Adapted from FAO)[1]

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is about 100 km from the south-eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, between latitudes 29º - 33º N and longitudes 35º- 39º E. It borders Syria to the North, Iraq to the east, Saudi Arabia on both eastern and southern borders, and Palestine to the west, and has a land area of about 89 200 km2, of which arable land is less than five percent. The population is 5 000 000, with a high annual growth rate of 3.5 percent. About 30 percent of the population live in rural areas and roughly 45 percent are below 15 years of age.

Agricultural Land Area

The actual cultivated area in 1997 totalled around 290 000 ha, of which 130 000 ha are planted with olives and fruit trees, 50 000 with vegetables and 110 000 with field crops. The fallow area was estimated at 90 000 ha. According to the Ministry of Agriculture survey, the number of farm holdings in 1997 was around 91,500, at an average area of 4.15 ha each, versus 57,438 holdings in 1983, at an average of 6.43 ha each. About 90 percent, or 80,771 km2, of the Kingdom is grazing land; 69,077 km2 of which receive under 100 mm of rainfall, and 1 000 km2 of marginal grazing with 100-200 mm annual rainfall. Natural and man-made forests cover 760 km2, out of 1,300 km2 registered as forests. There are also about 500 km2 of state-owned land used for grazing in mountainous areas.

The total arable land (in 1997) was only 400 000 ha, less than a tenth of a ha per capita. This is accompanied by scarcity of renewable fresh water resources, which do not exceed 750 million cubic metres per year, an average of 170 m3 per capita for all uses. Around 80 percent of the cultivated area is rainfed.

The agricultural sector is characterized by unstable production; it depends on rain and its distribution over the cultivation season, which directly affects production of the rainfed lands, pasture, livestock and irrigated crops because of its impact on the dams, groundwater and water sources storage. In spite of the sector's low contribution to the GDP, it is still - in its economical and social dimensions- a fundamental sector of the national economy. It is the base for integrated rural development, a source of income and employment for rural and Badia (semi-desert) people and a generator of activities in the other economical sub-sectors, especially the industrial and services ones. It also plays a central role in food security and trade balance improvement.

Agriculture is the main income source of about 15 percent of the population and employs around 62,000 (6 percent of the workforce). Women constitute 6.6 percent of the sector's labour force and about 4 percent of the working women in all sectors. The agricultural sector contributed 13.7 percent of all exports (average 1991-95) and 15.4 percent in 1996.

Despite the increasing production and the constant increase of the net absolute value of agricultural production during 1993-97 from 193 300 000 Jordanian Dinars (JD 1.42 US$) at 1993 prices to 254 300 000 JD in 1997- its share in the GDP decreased from 6 percent in 1993 to 5.5 percent in 1997 prices and from 7.7 percent to 6.1 percent in fixed, 1985

Topography

There are four main physiographic regions:

  • Jordan Rift Valley and Wadi Araba. The rift valley extends from Lake Tiberias in the north to the Gulf of Aqaba in the south. It is the Jordanian part of a continental shelf extending from Aqaba in the South to the Adasiyyah in the North. The Jordan Valley and the Southern Ghor are among the most important agricultural areas, as there is a permanent source of water from the Yarmouk River and side dams for the former, and from surface water for the latter. Due to their position below sea level and high temperatures (microclimate), these two are the most important winter vegetable producing areas. Cultivable lands in Ghors total approximately 34 000 ha, all irrigated. The majority of holdings are between 3-4 ha. Farmers use modern agricultural techniques in irrigation, production and marketing.
  • The Highlands. These extend from the Yarmouk River in the north passing through the Ajloun mountains, the hills of Ammon and Moab, and the Edom mountains. Many creeks and wadis drain from the east to the Jordan River, Dead Sea, and Wadi Araba. The average altitude ranges from 600 m in the north to 1,000 m in the middle and 1,500 m in the south. The highlands, which are a succession of catchment and sub-catchments, comprise: a semi-arid zone (350-500 mm annual rainfall) and a small sub-humid zone (over 500 mm annual rainfall).
  • The Arid Zone (Plains). This comprises the plains between the Badia (semi desert) and the Highlands. Rainfall ranges between 200 mm in the East and 350 mm in the West. More than 50 percent of the arable land is in this zone, the rainfed crops are mainly barley (areas of 200-300 mm of rainfall) wheat and fruit trees (where rainfall ranges between 300 and 350 mm).
  • Badia (Eastern Desert). This covers about 8 090 000 ha or 90 percent of the Kingdom. It is characterized by a very sparse vegetation cover and an annual rainfall of less than 200 mm. In the past it was only used for grazing. In the last two decades, however, 20 000 ha have been irrigated, using underground water, to grow vegetables (especially tomatoes, watermelon and potatoes), plus fruit trees and cereals, especially wheat.

Soils

 The soils of the Rift Valley in Zor, Wadi Araba and parts of Ghor belong to the order entisols and enceptisols (ustochrepts). The other parts of the rift are covered by aridisols. In the north of the Valley, the soils are deep and of moderate to medium structure. These soils have good water holding capacity and are relatively fertile.

The soils of the Highlands are non-cracking soils (xerochrepts), cracking clayey soils (vertisols) and shallow loamy soils (xerothents). The soils are generally calcareous with fair nutrient level but suffer from nitrogen and phosphorous deficiency and occasionally iron and manganese deficiency. Their organic content is less than one percent. The texture is heavy loam to clayey with high water holding capacity.

The soils of the Steppe region are aridisols and entisols. They are deep to moderately deep, slightly gravely, with fine silty loam texture in the surface and subsoil horizons. The subsoil horizons are rich in CaCO3 (calciorthids). The surface layer is dark, yellowish brown to brown. The high silt content of the surface soil and the absence of suitable organic content are responsible for the poor infiltration rate that leads to higher run-off and decreases the water storage capacity of the soil profile. Consequently, the vegetative growth is retarded and further soil degradation occurs. In general the soils of this region suffer from deficiencies of nitrogen and phosphorous. These soils are highly susceptible to gully and wind erosion particularly when disturbed by ploughing or subjected to over grazing.

The soils of the Desert region are aridisols and entisols. Soil depth varies considerably from one place to another. In the basalt area in the north, the deep clayey, well structured, soils occur below the moderately weathered basalt pavement (camborthids). Recent soils are saline, rather silty due to the effect of wind sediments or are like the soils which occupy the mudflats. Older soils are clayey, deep, and contain higher amounts of CaCO3. In the middle of Badia and to the south of Azraq, the soils become saline and contain gypsum (gypsiorthids). In the south around Disi and Mudawwara, the weathered sandstone shale and granite have resulted in the formation of sandy soils. The soils are in general low in organic matter, sandy to sandy loam in texture, often highly saline or alkaline and are generally devoid of vegetation. Their water holding capacity and fertility status is very low.

Climate

Jordan is on the eastern margins of the Mediterranean climatic zone of the eastern Mediterranean. This climate is characterized by hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. More than 90 percent of the country receives less than 200 mm annual precipitation.

There is a maximum annual rainfall of 600 mm in the north-west corner of the country. Average temperatures show a reverse pattern; they increase rapidly from the dissected plateaus to the very low level graben, increase gradually from the dissected plateau to the eastern margins of the eastern desert, and decrease gradually from north to south in line with increasing altitude. The highest annual and monthly values for evapotranspiration are in the desert with an annual total of 2,427 mm for Ma'an and 2,325 mm for Rweishid in the northeast. In the highlands, values vary from 1,485 mm at Rabba to 1,343 mm at Shoubak

There are four bioclimatic subdivisions in Jordan (Long, 1957):

Mediterranean: This region is restricted to the highlands extending from Irbid in the north to Ras En-Naqab in the south. The altitude ranges from 700-1750 m above sea level. The rainfall ranges from 300-600 mm. The minimum annual temperature ranges from 5-10 º C. Soil type is dominated by the red Mediterranean soil (terra rosa) and the yellow Mediterranean soil (rendzina). This region comprises the most fertile part of the Kingdom and contains 90 percent of the population.

Irano-Turanian: A narrow strip of variable width that surrounds all the Mediterranean ecozone except in the north. It is characterized by being treeless. The vegetation is mainly small shrubs and bushes such as Artemisia herba-alba,and Anabasis syriaca. Altitudes range from 500-700 m, and rainfall ranges from 150-300 mm. Mean annual minimum temperatures range from 5-2º C, and mean annual maxima range from 15-25º C. Soils are mostly calcareous or transported by wind. The vegetation is dominated by chamaeophytes.

Saharo-Arabian: This is the eastern desert or Badia and comprises the largest part of Jordan encompassing almost 80% of its total area. It is flat except for a few hills or small mountains, the result of volcanic eruptions. Altitude ranges between 500-700 m. The mean annual rainfall ranges from 50-200 mm, mean annual minimum temperatures range from 15-2º C. Soil is mostly poor, either clay, hammada, saline, sandy or calcareous. Vegetation is dominated by small shrubs and small annuals in the wadi beds.

Sudanian: It starts from the northern part of the Dead Sea and ends at the tip of the Gulf of Aqaba in the south along the Dead Sea depression and Wadi Araba. The most important characteristic of this region is the altitude, considered the lowest point on earth (396 m below sea level near the Dead Sea). Rainfall ranges from 50-100 mm, the mean annual minimum temperature ranges from 10-29º C, and mean annual maximum temperatures range from the minimal 20 to 35º C. Soils are mostly alluvial, saline, sandy and granitic. The only inland sand dunes are in this region. The vegetation is characterized by a tropical tree element such as Acacia sp. and Ziziphus spina-christi in addition to some shrubs and annual herbs.

Modelling yield potential, water limited yield potential and irrigated yield potential

For each crop in each country, its harvest area of recent years is classified into different climate zones based on three climatic indices: aridity, seasonality, and length of growing season (van Wart et al, 2013). Crop yields within the same climate zone are assumed to be comparable and similarly attainable for a given soil type. Yield simulations were performed at key locations where observed weather data are available (called reference weather stations or RWS) and crop harvest area is significant (You et al., 2009).  RWS were selected iteratively based on harvested area within a 100 km buffer zone (but using 50 km buffer zone for the smaller country of Jordan) until 50% of harvested area was within the buffer zone of all selected stations. This initial RWS selection was reviewed by country experts and stations were added or subtracted based on their expertise. Dominant soil textures and crop management information (sowing date, plant population, cultivar maturity) at district levels were collected in the area surrounding each RWS (Table 1). ISRIC-WISE soil data were used to determine dominant soil textures where observed data or expert opinion on dominant soils were lacking. Weather data were collected from national weather databases and then run through quality control measures as described in van Wart et al. (2015) and in the GYGA protocols.

The WOFOST crop simulation model (Diepen et al, 1989) was used to estimate the Yp, Yw and Ys (yield potential, water-limited yield potential and supplementally irrigated yield potential, respectively) of barley, potato and wheat for each water regime (i.e., rainfed, supplemental irrigation, or full irrigation) for major soil types in the area around the RWS. For wheat simulations, the WOFOST model does not contain a default spring wheat crop data file. Therefore, a default sprint wheat crop data file was created based on growth parameters as reported in Belhouchette et al., 2008 and as specified in the WOFOST default barley crop data file. The temperature sum from emergence to anthesis (TSUM1), temperature sum from anthesis to physiological maturity (TSUM2) and the initial total crop dry weight (TDWI; indicative of sowing density) were adjusted so that simulated harvested index (HI) of Yp was close to reported average of 0.45, reported maximum leaf area index was within reported range of between 3-5, and crop matured around the average time farmers' crops were reportedly reaching physiological maturity.  For barley, WOFOST's default crop data file was used, and TSUM1, TSUM2 and TDWI were adjusted in the same way as for wheat described above. Lastly, a soil file was developed for each major soil texture identified at each site and used in the WOFOST model (Table 2).

Table 1 Site management and soil parameters used in the WOFOST model, years simulated and reported rainfed and irrigated yields at each site for barley (A) and wheat (B)

 

(A)

Site

Country

Sowing date

Growth duration (sowing to harvest)

Major soil texture around site

Years Simulated

QueenAliaAir

Jordan

1-Nov

189

SILT LOAM

99' - 13'

Mafraq

Jordan

1-Nov

178

SILTY CLAY LOAM

99' - 13'

Karak

Jordan

15-Nov

179

SILTY CLAY LOAM

90' - 10'

Maan

Jordan

15-Nov

175

SILT LOAM

98' - 14'

Irbed

Jordan

1-Nov

178

SILTY CLAY LOAM

99' - 13'

Madaba

Jordan

1-Nov

189

SILT LOAM

90' - 12'

 

 

(B)

Site

Country

Sowing date

Growth duration (sowing to harvest)

Major soil texture around site

Years Simulated

Karak

Jordan

25-Nov

180

SILTY CLAY LOAM

90' - 10'

Irbed

Jordan

15-Nov

180

SILTY CLAY LOAM

99' - 13'

QueenAliaAir

Jordan

15-Nov

190

SILT LOAM

99' - 13'

Mafraq

Jordan

1-Nov

190

SILTY CLAY LOAM

99' - 13'

Maan

Jordan

25-Nov

185

SILT LOAM

98' - 14'

Madaba

Jordan

15-Nov

185

SILT LOAM

90' - 12'

DeirAlla

Jordan

1-Nov

170

SILTY CLAY LOAM

99' - 13'

 

Soil texture

SMW*

SMFCF**

SM0***

Loamy sand

0.020

0.174

0.440

Sandy loam

0.069

0.252

0.460

Silt loam

0.090

0.279

0.510

Loam

0.093

0.278

0.500

Sandy clay loam

0.175

0.328

0.430

Silt clay loam

0.168

0.320

0.450

Clay loam

0.261

0.373

0.450

Clay

0.364

0.498

0.540

Silty clay

0.277

0.462

0.510

 Table 2 Soil textural parameters used in WOFOST model simulations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Soil moisture content at wilting point (cm3 cm-3)

**Soil moisture content at field capacity (cm3 cm-3)

***Soil moisture content at saturation (cm3 cm-3)

 

References

Diepen, C.A. van, Wolf, J., Keulen, H. van, and Rappoldt, C. 1989. WOFOST: a simulation model of crop production. Soil Use and Management. 5(16-24)

Long, G. (1957): Bioclimatology and Vegetation of Eastern Jordan. Working paper for FAO, FAO/57/2/1109.

Van Wart, J., van Bussel, L.G., Wolf, J., Licker, R., Grassini, P., Nelson, A., Boogaard, H., Gerber, J., Mueller, N.D., Claessens, L., van Ittersum, M.K., and Cassman, K.G. 2013. Use of agro-climatic zones to upscale simulated crop yield potential. Field Crops Research. 143(44-55).

Van Wart, J., P. Grassini, H.S. Yang, L. Claessens, A. Jarvis, K.G. Cassman. 2015. Creating long-term weather data from the thin air for crop simulation modelling Agric. For. Meteorol http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agrformet.2015.02.020 (In Press)

You, L.,Wood, S., Wood-Sichra, U. 2009. Generating plausible crop distribution maps for Sub-Saharan Africa using a spatially disaggregated data fusion and optimization approach. Agric. Syst., 99(126–140)

 



[1] Written by Mahmoud Abusetta Al-Jaloudy. Accessed 15 September 2015 at http://www.fao.org/ag/AGP/AGPC/doc/Counprof/Jordan/Jordan.htm

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