Nutrient cycling and field-based partial nutrient balances in two mountain oases of Oman

Andreas Buerkert*, Maher Nagieb, Stefan Siebert, Iqrar Khan, Ahmed Al-Maskri

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Little is known about nutrient fluxes as a criterion to assess the sustainability of traditional irrigation agriculture in eastern Arabia. In this study GIS-based field research on terraced cropland and groves of date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) was conducted over 2 years in two mountain oases of northern Oman to determine their role as hypothesized sinks for nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). At Balad Seet 55% of the 385 fields received annual inputs of 100-500 kg N ha-1 and 26% received 500-1400 kg N ha-1. No N was applied to 19% of the fields which were under fallow. Phosphorus was applied annually at 1-90 kg ha-1 on 46% of the fields, whereas 27% received 90-210 kg ha-1. No K was applied to 27% of the fields, 32% received 1-300 kg K ha-1, and the remaining fields received up to 1400 kg ha-1. At Maqta N-inputs were 61-277 kg ha -1 in palm groves and 112-225 kg ha-1 in wheat (Triticum spp.) fields, respective P inputs were 9-40 and 14-29 kg ha-1, and K inputs were 98-421 and 113-227 kg ha-1. For cropland, partial oasis balances (comprising inputs of manure, mineral fertilizers, N 2-fixation and irrigation water, and outputs of harvested products) were similar for both oases, with per hectare surpluses of 131 kg N, 37 kg P, and 84 kg K at Balad Seet and of 136 kg N, 16 kg P and 66 kg K at Maqta. This was despite the fact that N2-fixation by alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.), estimated at up to 480 kg ha-1 yr-1 with an average total dry matter of 22 t ha-1, contributed to the cropland N-balance only at the former site. Respective palm grove surpluses, in contrast were with 303 kg N, 38 kg P, and 173 kg K ha-1 much higher at Balad Seet than with 84 kg N, 14 kg P, and 91 kg K ha-1 at Maqta. The data show that both oases presently are large sinks for nutrients. Potential gaseous and leaching losses could at least partly be controlled by a decrease in nutrient input intensity and careful incorporation of manure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-164
Number of pages16
JournalField Crops Research
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 15 2005


  • Animal manure
  • Irrigation agriculture
  • N-fixation
  • Nutrient fluxes
  • Sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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