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Journal of Applied Sciences Research 1(1): 9-17, 2005

2005, INSInet Publication

Water Pollution in Relation to Agricultural Activity Impact in Egypt


1

M.S. Gaballah, 1K. Khalaf, 2A. Beck and 2J. Lopez

Water Relations and Botany Department, National Research Centre, Cairo, Egypt.
2
Agriculture Sciences Division, Imperial College, London University.

Abstract: The present study was carried out in two Governorates in Egypt, Dakahlia (North Delta) and Sohag
(Upper Egypt) for developing a system of good agricultural practice in Egypt. The study included 400 farmers
(200/each governorate) were chosen randomly from different villages to answer questions concerning field work
survey. Collected data from field work survey were analysed for interpretating the facts and cause of water
pollution in selected sites. It was clear that most of the farmers practice bad habits particularly with water
resources and urgently need improvement to change their farming practices. Deduced results proved that there
are two critical points in agricultural lands i.e. salinization and water pollution, both were caused due to poor
irrigation and drainage management. According to obtained results, it has been proved that surface type of
irrigation system covered more than 60% in Sohag, while in Dakahlia surface and flood systems were the
dominant. The rate of irrigation was decided according to plant need in Dakahlia, while in Sohag was regularly
every two weeks. About 98% of farmers are not aware to the importance of drains. A positive correlation was
found between the depth of water table and each of source of irrigation and crop rotation and also between the
source of irrigation and drainage discharge in Dakahlia and Sohag.
Key words: Irrigation, drainage, water table, salinization, pollution, agriculture practices, survey, Dakahlia,
Sohag, Farmers
INTRODUCTION

fungicides used to control weeds, insects nematodes and


diseases respectively Wischmeier and Smith[3].
Application of waste water in irrigation purposes has
been increased over the past years. The waste waters for
irrigation proved to be toxic to plant, animals and humans
Kanwer and Sandha[4]. Also it has been noticed in Egypt
that industrial wastes considered to be the major polluting
source in Egypt Abdel-Shafy and Aly[5].
The purpose of this study is to provide a framework
for environmental and management in relation to
agricultural activities, to achieve a good practical guide
specifically with water resources. Also to evaluate
alternative water quality protection policies.

Water problems are emerging as the most compelling


sets of issues facing production agriculture in the 1990s.
Egypt, hide acute water shortages in localities, resulting
from rapid population increase or natural scarcity World
Resources Institute[1]. For agriculture, water quality issues
are more pervasive than water quantity problems. Farmers
are a significant polluting source in some areas.
Agriculture impacts heavily upon water use and thus
ultimately upon water quality. Agricultural production
processes generate residuals which can be grouped into
six major categories : soil sediments, nutrients, pesticides,
mineral salts, heavy metals, and disease organisms.
Georgescu-Roegen[2].
Nutrient levels in excess of crop uptake are potential
sources of pollution of both ground and surface waters.
Agricultural production practices to control nutrient
losses include modifying the amount, timing, form and
placement of fertilizers or livestock manures applied to
agricultural lands. Also, numerous chemical compounds
are used in agriculture to inhibit growth of various
organisms that otherwise would reduce agricultural yields.
These compounds, commonly referred to as pesticides,
include herbicides, insecticides, nematicdies and

MATERIALS AND METHODS


A fieldwork survey was carried out in Dakahlia
(North Delta) and Sohag (Upper Egypt) Governorates to
collect data of questionnaire which covered different
fields soil, air and water pollution in addition to farming
system, waste management, health and safety. Two
hundred farmers were interviewed in each governorate, to
ensure complete randomization, ten farmers/week were
interviewed in different villages of Dakahlia Governorate
and similarly in Sohag.

Corresponding Author: M.S. Gaballah, Water Relations Department, National Research Centre, Cairo, Egypt.
9

J. App. Sci. Res. 1(1): 9-17, 2005

A questionnaire was used for collecting information


about farming system, drainage, irrigation, fertilizers,
pesticides management, waste management, health and
safety issues, Khalaf[6]. In the present study the drainage
and irrigation section of questionnaire were concentrated
on methods and scheduling of irrigation, water resources,
agricultural impact and water pollution.
Statistical analysis (frequency distribution and
correlation coefficient) was carried out for all chosen
parameters concerning water pollution study, according
to Snedecor and Cochran[7].
RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS
Collected data from field work survey concerning
water pollution covered variety of questions mainly
drainage and irrigation management and some other
agricultural practices.
It was clear that the type of irrigation method in
Upper Egypt (Sohag) was surface one which used in more
than 60% of the cultivated lands, and no definite clear
relation between education and of irrigation methods.
While, in Dakahlia (North Delta) main types of irrigation
systems were surface and flood, However, the correlation
between type of irrigation and literacy did not show any
effect on the farmers choice for the irrigation method (Fig.
1). Similarly relating the type of irrigation method to tenure
of farm ( owing or renting lands) showed the same
attitude as forementioned, except for rentals who care
much more than owners about the irrigation methods their
lands need (Fig. 2).
Regarding the irrigation frequency needed by farmers
to cultivate their lands Fig. (3), literacy showed a positive
effect on farmers attitude, as in Dakahlia it was noticed
that irrigation scheduling was decided according to plant
need while in Sohag it was regularly every two weeks
without any consideration to the plant need, also the
relation between the percentage of farmers, irrigation
scheduling and tenure of farm Fig. (4), gave similar results
as previously mentioned in Fig. (3).
The type of drainage system in Sohag depended
mainly on the open one while in Dakahlia it depended on
both the tile and open systems which were not related to
education Fig. (5). While the farm tenure revealed that the
land owners in Dakahlia cared about constructing a tile
drainage system, while in Sohag the open one is the most
available and common type of drainage used (Fig. 6).
It is also, worthy to mention that in Sohag, main
drains were not available for drainage discharge, while in
Dakahlia mainly discharging takes place in main drains.
This is more related to literacy as about 98 % of farmers in
Dakahlia were aware to the importance of drains

10

(Figures 7 & 8).


Farmers in both governorates (Dakahlia and Sohag)
were so certain about absence of accumulated salts in
their lands whether they are owners, rentals, educated or
non educated as shown in (Figures 9 & 10), although
some of the farmers about 14% especially the land owners
and the well educated ones approve that there is an
accumulation of salt in their lands.
The correlation coefficient between different
parameters about agricultural practices in Dakahlia site
and each other (Table 1). There was no significant
correlation between literacy and other recorded
parameters such as drainage, irrigation frequency, salt,
accumulation etc. It was also recorded that there was no
significant correlation found between crop rotation and
other parameters, however there was a positive correlation
between the depth of water table and each of crop
rotation and source of irrigation (Table 1). Highly positive
correlation was also found between the source of
irrigation and drainage system or discharge.
It is worthy to notice that a significant negative
relationships were observed between drainage and
literacy as well as between drainage and crop type.
Similar, negative correlations were also recorded between
depth of water table and each of literacy and type of crop,
moreover a negative association was found between
irrigation frequency and each of literacy, drainage
discharge system, salt accumulation in farm lands and
source of irrigation, although there was a positive
correlation between land salt accumulation and each of
depth of water table and drainage type.
In Sohag, to some extent, different agricultural
practices were recognized by farmers, this was
investigated when a correlation coefficient was carried
out to correlate between different practices and each
other (Table 2).
Highly positive correlations were recorded between
drainage type and each of crop rotation and drainage
discharge. Also, a positive correlation was found between
crop rotation and farmers satisfaction with drainage
system and also between the source of irrigation and each
of drainage type and irrigation method (Table 2).
Furthermore positive correlations were observed between
drainage type and depth of water table, method of
irrigation and each of drainage discharge, depth of water
table and farmers satisfaction with their drainage system.
Moreover, positive correlation was recorded between
irrigation frequency and literacy (Table 2).
In contrast, negative correlations were found
between depth of water-table and source of irrigation,
crop rotation and depth of water table, the type of
irrigation and each of literacy, drainage type and rate

J. App. Sci. Res. 1(1): 9-17, 2005


Table 1: Correlation coefficient between different agricultural activities and each other in North Delta (Dakahlia).
Variable
Education Crop type Rotation Drainage Drainage Drainage
Depth of
Source of
type
Discharge satisfaction water table irrigation
Education
1.00**
-0.061
Crop type
-0.06
1.00**
-0.053
Rotation
0.108
0.053
1.00**
0.016
Drainage type
-0.052
0.093
0.016
1.00**
0.119
D. Discharge
-0.108
0.093
-0.042
0.119
1.00**
0.116
Drainage. S
0.063
-0.076
0.006
-0.972** -0.11
0.100
-0.001
Depth of water table -0.097
-0.050
0.146*
0.019
-0.143*
0.001
0.037
0.031
Source of irrigation -0.075
0.087
0.00
0.047
0.016
0.050
1.00**
0.08
Type of irrigation
0.042
-0.066
0.019
0.020
-0.653** 0.013
0.08
1.00**
Rate of irrigation
-0.039
0.043
0.133
0.080
-0.041
-0.087
0.07
-0.036
Salt accumulation 0.008
0.001
0.164*
0.160*
-0.047
0.179*
0.169*
0.124
P<0.05 significant, ** P<0.01 highly significant
Table 2: Correlation coefficient between different agricultural activities and each other in Upper Egypt (Sohag).
Variable
Education Crop type Rotation Drainage Drainage Drainage
Depth of
Source of
type
Discharge satisfaction water table irrigation
Education
1.00**
0.062
Crop type
-0.042
1.000**
0.047
Rotation
-0.063
0.047
1.000** 0.221**
Drainage type
-0.016
0.061
0.221** 1.000*
0.491**
D. Discharge
-0.124
-0.087
-0.030
0.491** 1.000**
0.050**
Drainage. S
-0.062
-0.062
0.223** -0.993** -0.500** 1.000**
-0.183**
Depth of water table 0.090
-0.021
-0.012
0.177*
0.058
-0.183**
1.000**
-0.160*
Source of irrigation -0.063
-0.050
-0.026
0.236** -0.129
0.239**
-0.166*
1.000**
Type of irrigation
-0.0175* 0.004
0.045
-0.593** 0.753**
0.593**
-0.199**
0.245**
Rate of irrigation
0.171*
0.068
0.021
0.083
0.110
-0.037
0.046
0.126
Salt accumulation 0.018
0.047
-0.165* 0.074
-0.193** 0.077
0.023
0.272**
P<0.05 significant, ** P<0.01 highly significant

0.070
1.00**
0.137
0.013

0.137
1.00**
-0.007

Type of
irrigation

Rate of
Salt of
irrigation accumulation

0.245**
1.000**
-0.106
0.161*

-0.106
1.000**
0.003

0.007
1.00***

0.003
1.000***

No
No %
%

Dakahlia

60

Rate of
Salt of
irrigation accumulation

Sohag

50
40
30
20
No %

10

Yea %

0
Su
rfa
ce

Flo
od

Su
Su
Su
Su
Flo
rfa
rfa
rfa
rfa
od
ce
ce
ce
ce
&d
&f
dri
p&
loo
rip
d
flo
od

Su
Su
Su
rfa
rfa
rfa
ce
ce
ce
&d
&f
dri
p&
loo
rip
d

Methods of irrigation

Fig. 1: The relation between the education of farmers and methods of irrigation.
11

flo
od

Can you read & write ?

Proportion of farmers interviewed (%)

Yea %
%
Yes

Type of
irrigation

J. App. Sci. Res. 1(1): 9-17, 2005

100

Own & rent

Own

Dakahlia

Sohag

80
60
40

Own

20

Own & rent


Rent

0
Su
Flo
rfa
od
ce

Su
Su
Su
Su
Flo
rfa
rfa
rfa
rfa
od
ce
ce
ce
ce
,d
&f
&d
r
l
i
o
p&
rip
od
flo
od

Su
Su
Su
r fa
rfa
rfa
ce
ce
ce,
&f
&d
dri
l
oo
p&
rip
d
flo
od

Tenure of farm

Proportion of farmers interviewed (%)

Rent

Methods of irrigation

Fig. 2: The relation between tenure of farm and the type of irrigation methods.

100

No %

Dakahlia

Sohag

80
60
40
No %

20

Yea %

0
Ac
tw
ow
c.
To
k
pla
nt
req
.

tw
we
ow
ek
ly
k+
req
.

we
Ac
Tw
Tw
we
c.
ek
ek
ow
ow
To
ly
ly
k
k
+p
+r
pla
lan
eq
nt
.
t re
req
q.
.

Irrigation frequency
Fig. 3: The relation between the education of farmers and irrigation frequency.

12

we
ek
ly
+

pla
nt
req
.

Can you read & write?

Proportion of farmers interviewed (%)

Yea
Yes %

J. App. Sci. Res. 1(1): 9-17, 2005

Rent

Own

Dakahlia

Sohag

100
80
60
40

Own
Rent

20

Own & ren t

0
Ac
c.
to

tw
ow
k
P.R
.

we
tw
ow
ekl
y
k+
P.R
.

we
Ac
we
Tw
Tw
c.
ekl
ekl
ow
ow
to
y+
y
k
k
P
+P
.R.
P.R
.
R
.
.

we
ekl
y+

Tenure of farm

Proportion of farmers interviewed (%)

Own & rent

P. R
.

Irrigation frequency

P.R. = Plant requirement


Fig. 4: The relation between tenure of farm and irrigation frequency.

No %

Dakahlia

Sohag

60
50
40
30
20

No %

10

Yes %

0
Ti l
e

Ti l
e

&o

pe
n

No
thi
ng

Op
en

Til
e

Til
e&

op
en

No
thi
ng

Methods of drainage
Fig. 5: The relation between the education of farmers and drainage system methods.

13

Op
en

Can you read & write?

Proportion of farmers interviewed (%)

Yes %

J. App. Sci. Res. 1(1): 9-17, 2005

Own & rent

Own

Dakahlia

Sohag

50
40
30
Own

20

Own & rent

10

Rent

0
Til
e

Ti l
e

&o
pe
n

No
thi
ng

Op
en

Til
e

Til
e&

op
en

No
thi
ng

Op
en

Tenure of farm

Proportion of farmers interviewed (%)

Rent

Methods of drainage
Fig. 6: The relation between tenure of farm and drainage methods.
Own & rent

Dakahlia

Own

Sohag

100
80
60

Own

40

Own & rent

20
Rent
0
Dr
ain

No
ne

Riv
er

Dr
ain

No

ne

Riv
er

Where does the drainage system discharge ?


Fig. 7: The relation between tenure of farm and the drainage discharge.

14

Tenure of farm

Proportion of farmers interviewed (%)

Rent

J. App. Sci. Res. 1(1): 9-17, 2005

No %

100
80
60
40

No %

20
Yes %
0
Dr
ain

No
ne

Riv
er

No
ne

Dr
ain

Riv
er

Can you read & write ?

Proportion of farmers interviewed (%)

Yes %

Where does the drainage system discharge ?


Fig. 8: The relation between literacy and drainage discharge.

No %

Dakahlia

Sohag

90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0

Can you read & write ?

Proportion of farmers interviewed (%)

Yes %

No %
Yes %
Ye

No

So
me
ti m
es

Ye

No

Salt accumulation
Fig. 9: The relation between literacy and land salt accumulation in the farm.

15

So
me
tim
es

J. App. Sci. Res. 1(1): 9-17, 2005

Rent

Dakahlia

Own

Sohag

100
80
60

Own

40

Rent

20
Own & rent
0
Ye

No

So
me
tim
es

Ye
s

No

Tenure of farm

Proportion of farmers interviewed (%)

Own & rent

So
me
tim
es

Salt accumulation
Fig. 10: The relation between farm tenure and land salt accumulation.
irrigation frequency. Overall, negative correlation was
recorded between land salt accumulation and crop
rotation and drainage discharge (Table 2).
In Egypt, as a whole, the lower efficiency of the
surface method (<50%) irrigation had led to the water
logging and widespread salinization of about 80% of the
total agricultural area. The situation had much improved
due to more attention to drainage and better water
management Barrow[8].
In Dakahlia and Sohag a significant amount of
salinization resulted from mismanagement of soil-irrigation
water and lower irrigation efficiency and/or bad irrigation
supply. This had led to an excessive application of
exceeding the drainage capacity. All of these factors
could cause rising of land water-table. Hamdy et al.,
1997[9].
In developing countries poor designed or
managed irrigation is the major cause of salinization.
According to obtained results about irrigation and
drainage in Dakahlia and Sohag sites. It was clear that the
farmer practiced bad inherited habits using flood and
surface irrigation method which certainly will lead to
salinization due to over application of water and
inadequate provision of drainage salinization can over
take and ruin agriculture Barrow[10]. Farmers, growers and

ranchers are under scruting for their use and misuse of


water not only this but they are significantly polluting
water resources Batie[11]. Elnagheeb et al.[12] found that
farmers should change farm practices to control ground
water pollution using multiple-indicator model. Also
Hamdy et al.,[13] discussed the role of leached fertilizers on
the water environment, and health implications Donso et
al.,[14] describe the effect of agricultural activities on water
pollution. Hanson[15] discussed the causes of nonpoint
source pollution (NPS) and its reduction by improving
drainage and irrigation systems. Also Ongley[16]
mentioned that agricultural operations could contribute to
water quality deterioration through the release of several
materials into water of sediments, pesticides, animal
manures, fertilizers and other source of inorganic and
organic, fertilizers (i.e. nonpoint sources of pollution).
The correlation between different farming
practices, proved that educational efforts towards more
environmental awareness are recommended. In
conclusion, more educational efforts are needed to
improve farmers agricultural environmental awareness,
also governmental efforts are needed for managing of
good irrigation and drainage systems and codes of good
agricultural practices should be imposed to address water
pollution problems in Egypt.

16

J. App. Sci. Res. 1(1): 9-17, 2005

The conclusion was supported by Scheierling[17]


who mentioned that mandatory codes of good agricultural
practices should be imposed to address water pollution
problems.

9.

10.
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