IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Soil degradation and agricultural sustainability: an overview from Iran


  • Iraj Emadodin


  • Daiju Narita
  • Hans Bork


During the past six decades, agriculture as a main sector in Iran’s economy has been affected by economic development, land-use policies, and population growth and its pressures. From the 1940s until 2010, the percentage of the total urban population of Iran increased from about 21 % to around 72 %. Urbanization, industrialization, and intensive cultivation have dramatically affected soil and water resources. The exploitation of groundwater has been increased around fourfold from the 1970s to the mid-2000s. Total water resources per capita reduced around 23 % from 1956 to 2008. The average annual decrease in the groundwater table in Iran during the last two decades is 0.51 m. In 2008, the groundwater table fell around −1.14 m in average in Iran. The average use of chemical fertilizers increased from around 2.1 million tons in 1990s to about 3.7 million tons in 2009. During that period, fertilizer use efficiency decreased from around 28 % to around 21 %. Approximately 77 % of the agricultural land under irrigation suffers from different levels of salinity. According to the quantification of four indices, such as soil erosion, fall in groundwater levels, salinity, and use of chemical fertilizer, that are directly related to agricultural land use, the results show that agricultural management in Iran needs special attention to reach sustainable conditions. The total cost of soil and water degradation and use of fertilizers in agriculture are estimated around than US $12.8 billion (about 157,000 billion IRRials)—approximately 4 % of the total gross domestic product (GDP) and approximately 35 % of the GDP of the agricultural sector in Iran. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Iraj Emadodin & Daiju Narita & Hans Bork, 2012. "Soil degradation and agricultural sustainability: an overview from Iran," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 14(5), pages 611-625, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:endesu:v:14:y:2012:i:5:p:611-625
    DOI: 10.1007/s10668-012-9351-y

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sydorovych, Olha & Wossink, Ada, 2008. "The meaning of agricultural sustainability: Evidence from a conjoint choice survey," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 98(1), pages 10-20, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. repec:gam:jsusta:v:11:y:2019:i:12:p:3353-:d:240602 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Seyyed Mahmoud Hashemi & Ali Bagheri & Nadine Marshall, 2017. "Toward sustainable adaptation to future climate change: insights from vulnerability and resilience approaches analyzing agrarian system of Iran," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 1-25, February.
    3. Wichelns, Dennis & Qadir, Manzoor, 2015. "Achieving sustainable irrigation requires effective management of salts, soil salinity, and shallow groundwater," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 157(C), pages 31-38.
    4. repec:gam:jsusta:v:11:y:2019:i:6:p:1656-:d:215242 is not listed on IDEAS


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spr:endesu:v:14:y:2012:i:5:p:611-625. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla) or (Mallaigh Nolan). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.