Date palm cultivation: A review of soil and environmental conditions and future challenges

Khaled D. Alotaibi*, Hattan A. Alharbi, Mahmoud W. Yaish, Ibrahim Ahmed, Sulaiman Almwarai Alharbi, Fahad Alotaibi, Yakov Kuzyakov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) fruit is one of the ancient crops that have been cultivated for thousands of years in the arid regions of the Middle East and North Africa. Its nutritional and economic importance has extended the cultivation to other countries with suitable environmental conditions. Despite the large expansion in date palm cultivation and the associated improvement in its yield and quality over the last few decades, challenges remain in its cultivation and sustainability. Here, we review: (1) the current status of date palm cultivation, (2) the key environmental and soil-related factors influencing its cultivation and productivity, and (3) the challenges under global change in addition to assessing the future potentials for improvements and sustainability. The global production of date palm has increased by 18% during the last ten years, reaching 8.53 million tons, on a total area of 1.11 million ha. Water scarcity and salinity stresses are the major constraints affecting date palm productivity, which is a serious issue in arid regions, where water resources are becoming depleted and soil is becoming increasingly salinized due to limited rainfall, high evapotranspiration, and incorrect irrigation. Although date palm can tolerate salinity up to 12 dS m−1, accumulation of salts in soil strongly reduces the yield. The main cultivation areas are dominated by soils of sandy texture with high pH and a low capacity for water and nutrient retention. Organic fertilizers increase water and nutrient retention. There is a lack of long-term studies (e.g., ≥10 years) designed to monitor date palm cultivar responses to abiotic stresses as well as to nutrition and management practices. Future challenges facing date palm cultivation mainly include water shortages, extremely high temperatures, salinity, and soil degradation, as well as diseases and pests. The implementation of efficient management practices, including modern irrigation systems, selecting cultivars most suitable for the local environmental conditions, and increasing soil water and nutrient retention, help to sustain date palm cultivation and productivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2431-2444
Number of pages14
JournalLand Degradation and Development
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Mar 3 2023


  • Phoenix dactylifera L
  • date palm
  • drought stress
  • environmental factors
  • land use
  • productivity
  • soil salinity and alkalinity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Development
  • General Environmental Science
  • Soil Science

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