Adding Soil [Syrian Arab Republic]

Taghir al Turbe (arabic), akhelete (kurdish)

technologies_1004 - Syrian Arab Republic

Completeness: 73%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Technology

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:
SLM specialist:

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


1.5 Reference to Questionnaire(s) on SLM Approaches (documented using WOCAT)

2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

To add red (fertile, nutrient rich) valley soil to degraded white soil on slopes (in olive orchards)

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


Red soil is taken from valley fields, mines and construction work, transported to the slopes and added around the stem of each tree, ca. 2 m^3 per tree. Not done in the rainy season and only when there is soil available and spare time.

Purpose of the Technology: increase the soil depth and add nutrients in response to erosion and nutrient mining.

Establishment / maintenance activities and inputs: every five to ten years depending on rainfall and slope.

2.3 Photos of the Technology

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment


Syrian Arab Republic

Region/ State/ Province:


Further specification of location:

Idleb, Affrin



Total area covered by the SLM Technology is 0.04 km2.

Idleb no information available, probably 1.5 times more than Affrin

2.6 Date of implementation

If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date:
  • less than 10 years ago (recently)

2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • through land users' innovation
Comments (type of project, etc.):

Idleb (region around Harem), 70 km from Aleppo, West

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.1 Main purpose(s) of the Technology

  • improve production
  • reduce, prevent, restore land degradation
  • create beneficial economic impact

3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied



  • Annual cropping
  • Tree and shrub cropping
Tree and shrub cropping - Specify crops:
  • olive
Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 1

Major land use problems (compiler’s opinion): Water erosion on hill slopes, poor soil quality (vulnerable to erosion and lack of nutrients), exageratet tillage in olive orchards

Major land use problems (land users’ perception): loss of top soil due to water erosion, poor soil quality, difficult to do contour tillage because of steep slopes

3.4 Water supply

Water supply for the land on which the Technology is applied:
  • rainfed

Water supply: Also mixed rainfed - irrigated

3.5 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • integrated soil fertility management

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

soil erosion by water

soil erosion by water

  • Wt: loss of topsoil/ surface erosion
  • Wg: gully erosion/ gullying
  • Wm: mass movements/ landslides
chemical soil deterioration

chemical soil deterioration

  • Cn: fertility decline and reduced organic matter content (not caused by erosion)

Main type of degradation addressed: Wt: loss of topsoil / surface erosion, Wg: gully erosion / gullying

Secondary types of degradation addressed: Wm: mass movements / landslides, Cn: fertility decline and reduced organic matter content

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
  • reduce land degradation
  • restore/ rehabilitate severely degraded land

Main goals: rehabilitation / reclamation of denuded land

Secondary goals: mitigation / reduction of land degradation

4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology

Technical specifications (related to technical drawing):

Technical knowledge required for field staff / advisors: low

Technical knowledge required for land users: low

Main technical functions: increase in soil fertility, adding new soil

Secondary technical functions: sediment harvesting

Material/ species: red soil
Remarks: depends on point of view, protection for "old"soil from the newly added soil

Mineral (inorganic) fertilizers
Material/ species: red soil
Quantity/ density: 2m^3/tree
Remarks: new soil mixed with the old one increases nutrient

Structural measure: add
Spacing between structures (m): 6 -10
Height of bunds/banks/others (m): 2
Width of bunds/banks/others (m): 3
Length of bunds/banks/others (m): 3

Construction material (earth): red soil

Slope (which determines the spacing indicated above): 0 - 25%

4.2 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

other/ national currency (specify):

syrian pounds

If relevant, indicate exchange rate from USD to local currency (e.g. 1 USD = 79.9 Brazilian Real): 1 USD =:


Indicate average wage cost of hired labour per day:


4.3 Establishment activities

Activity Timing (season)
1. digging soil dry season
2. transport soil dry season
3. distributing soil

4.4 Costs and inputs needed for establishment

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Labour ha 1.0 50.0 50.0 100.0
Equipment Machine use ha 1.0 50.0 50.0 100.0
Construction material Earth ha 1.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
Other Transport ha 1.0 100.0 100.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 300.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology in USD 6.0

Duration of establishment phase: 12 month(s)

4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. digging soil dry season / once
2. transport soil dry season / once
3. distributing soil once

4.6 Costs and inputs needed for maintenance/ recurrent activities (per year)


Machinery/ tools: trolley for transport, machine for digging

for one farmer

4.7 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

labour, distance, transport, probably in the future also value of soil

5. Natural and human environment

5.1 Climate

Annual rainfall
  • < 250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1,000 mm
  • 1,001-1,500 mm
  • 1,501-2,000 mm
  • 2,001-3,000 mm
  • 3,001-4,000 mm
  • > 4,000 mm
Agro-climatic zone
  • semi-arid

5.2 Topography

Slopes on average:
  • flat (0-2%)
  • gentle (3-5%)
  • moderate (6-10%)
  • rolling (11-15%)
  • hilly (16-30%)
  • steep (31-60%)
  • very steep (>60%)
  • plateau/plains
  • ridges
  • mountain slopes
  • hill slopes
  • footslopes
  • valley floors
Altitudinal zone:
  • 0-100 m a.s.l.
  • 101-500 m a.s.l.
  • 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
  • 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
  • 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
  • 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
  • 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
  • 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
  • > 4,000 m a.s.l.

5.3 Soils

Soil depth on average:
  • very shallow (0-20 cm)
  • shallow (21-50 cm)
  • moderately deep (51-80 cm)
  • deep (81-120 cm)
  • very deep (> 120 cm)
Soil texture (topsoil):
  • medium (loamy, silty)
  • fine/ heavy (clay)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • low (<1%)
If available, attach full soil description or specify the available information, e.g. soil type, soil PH/ acidity, Cation Exchange Capacity, nitrogen, salinity etc.

Soil fertility: Very low (ranked 1) and low (ranked 2)
Soil drainage/infiltration: Good
Soil water storage capacity: High

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Market orientation of production system:
  • commercial/ market
Off-farm income:
  • 10-50% of all income
Relative level of wealth:
  • average
  • rich
Level of mechanization:
  • manual work
  • mechanized/ motorized
Indicate other relevant characteristics of the land users:

Population density: 10-50 persons/km2
Annual population growth: 2% - 3%
25% of the land users are rich.
50% of the land users are average wealthy.
25% of the land users are poor.
Level of mechanization: Mechanised (ranked 1, tillage) and manual work (ranked 2, harvesting)
Market orientation of production system: export (seasonal)

5.7 Average area of land used by land users applying the Technology

  • < 0.5 ha
  • 0.5-1 ha
  • 1-2 ha
  • 2-5 ha
  • 5-15 ha
  • 15-50 ha
  • 50-100 ha
  • 100-500 ha
  • 500-1,000 ha
  • 1,000-10,000 ha
  • > 10,000 ha

5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights

Land ownership:
  • individual, titled
Land use rights:
  • individual

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown

Socio-economic impacts


crop production

Comments/ specify:

20-50% (red on white:63%, white on red: 38%)

risk of production failure

Comments/ specify:

Young roots are encouraged to grow in the new added pile, but there they are more susceptible for damage (ploughin/frost/heat/diseases)

production area

Comments/ specify:

In case soil is taken from good valley fields

Income and costs

economic disparities


Socio-cultural impacts

community institutions


national institutions


SLM/ land degradation knowledge


Ecological impacts


soil moisture

Comments/ specify:

For white on red soil, increased sand content may result in better infiltration and reduces cracks of topsoil, increased moisture in subsoil reported by farmers

nutrient cycling/ recharge

Comments/ specify:

Adding white soil adds high active CaCO3, which might decrease availabilty of cation nutrients

Biodiversity: vegetation, animals

pest/ disease control

Comments/ specify:

Spreading of soil-borne diseases. Especially Vertcillium Wilt, also Verticillium Dahliae

Other ecological impacts

Topsoil temperature

Comments/ specify:

Adding white soil on red soil might reduce the temerature (less absorption of sunlight) and therefore the evaporation and also repell insects, but this has not been measured

6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown

reliable and stable stream flows in dry season


downstream flooding


downstream siltation

Comments/ specify:

Downfields will benefit if erosion is not stopped

groundwater/ river pollution


wind transported sediments


6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
Short-term returns:

slightly negative

Long-term returns:


How do the benefits compare with the maintenance/ recurrent costs (from land users' perspective)?
Short-term returns:

very positive

Long-term returns:

very positive

6.5 Adoption of the Technology

Of all those who have adopted the Technology, how many did so spontaneously, i.e. without receiving any material incentives/ payments?
  • 91-100%

100% of land user families have adopted the Technology without any external material support

Comments on spontaneous adoption: estimates

There is a strong trend towards spontaneous adoption of the Technology

Comments on adoption trend: exponential adaption, probably related to the recent (from 2003/2005) increase for olive oil prices and increased construction work

6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
fast increase in yield
reverse the effects of erosion
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
reverse the effects of erosion

How can they be sustained / enhanced? combine with other conservation technologies (stone bands etc.)
soil that otherwise wouldn't be used can be used in this way

How can they be sustained / enhanced? offer free transport of soil by government or other organisation
don't have to apply to the entire field, possibility to keep investment down

6.8 Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks of the Technology and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the land user’s view How can they be overcome?
expensive for the entire field not
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
it is not sustainable combine with conservation strategies like terraces, bands, less tillage
soil born disease spreading soil analysis before adding and if positive either apply quarantine and solarization or leave it

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

7.2 References to available publications

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Soil transfers in olive orchards of NS Syria, a bio-physical and socio-economic analysis of a local innovation. June 2007.

Available from where? Costs?

ICD Bern

Links and modules

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