Final Study on Date Palm Irrigation in the UAE by LMwgG8

VIEWS: 274 PAGES: 129


                     Prepared by :

                   Sattar, Habib. M.

February, 2006
Sattar, Habib. M.
                           TABLE OF CONTENTS

List of Figures
List of Tables
Acknowledgment                                                 i-ii
1. INTRODUCTION                                                 1
1.1. The Origin of Date Palm                                    5
1.2. Date Palm Propagation                                      8
     a- Seed Propagation                                        8
     b- Offshoot Propagation                                    9
     c- Tissue Culture Propagation                             10
1.3. Date Palm Field Preparation                              13
1.3.1. Soil Physical and Chemical Analysis                    13
1.3.2. Land Leveling                                          13
1.3.3. Plant Operations                                       13
     –Time of Planting                                        13
     –Tree Spacing                                            13
     –Planting Depth                                          14
     –Time (Stage) of Transplanting                           14
     –Offshoot or Tissue Culture Plant Protection            14
     – Basin Preparation                                     14
     – Irrigation                                            15
     – Fertilizer Application                                15
1.4. Date Palm Fertilizer Requirements                       16
1.4.1. Fertilization                                         16
1.4.2. Fertilization Program                                  17
1.4.3. Recommended Date Palm Fertilization Program            19
1.5. Other Date Palm Orchard Cultural Practices              21
1.5.1. Pollination                                            21
      – Hand Pollination                                      21
      – Hand Pollen Duster                                   22
      – Mechanized Pollen Duster                             22
1.5.2. Thinning                                              23
      – Bunches Cut-off                                      24
      – Reducing the number of fruits per tree               24
1.5.3. Pruning                                               25
1.5.4. Major Pests of Date Palm and their Control Measures   27 Insect Pests                                        27
        - The Red Palm Weevil                                27
        - The Lesser Date Moth                               28
        - The Longhorn Stem Borer                            28
        - Rhinoceros Beetle                                  28
        - Dubas Insect                                       29 Fungal Disease                                      29
        - Khamedj Disease                                     29
        - False Smut                                          29
        - False Bayoud                                       30
        - Black Scorch                                       30
1.6. Date Palm Agro-ecological Distribution Areas     31
1.6.1. Coastal Regions                                31
1.6.2. Mountainous Regions                            31
1.6.3. Oases                                         32
1.6.4. Date Palm Farming Systems                     32 Old Date Palm Farms                         32 New Date Palm Farms                         33
1.6.5. Important Date Palm Varieties in UAE          34
1.7. Development of Date Palm Production             36
1.7.1. Dates Production and Marketing in UAE         38
1.7.2. Date Palm Products and By-products            41 Dates and Date Products                      41
         - Dates                                     41
         - Date Products                             43
         - Date Paste                                43
         - Date Juice or Syrup                      43
         - Date Jam                                  43
         - Chopped Date                              44
         - Cull Dates                                44 Palm Products                               44
         - Leaves                                    44
         - Trunk                                     45
         - Pollen                                    45
         - Spathes                                   45
         - Empty Bunches                             45
         - Spike lets                                45
II. DATE PALM IRRIGATION                            46
2.1. Introduction                                    46
2.2. Irrigation Water Management                     47
2.2.1. Water Resources                               50 Groundwater                                 50 Surface Water                               52 Falajes and Springs                         53 Desalination Water                          53 Treated Sewage Water                        53
2.2.2. Water Quality                                54
2.3. Irrigated Agriculture                          56
2.3.1. Cropped Areas                                56
2.3.2. Irrigation Systems                           57 Method                          58
         - Basin Irrigation                         58
2.3.2..2. Modern Irrigation Systems                 59
         - Bubbler Irrigation                        60
         - Drip Irrigation                            61
2.4. Date Palm Water Requirements                    65
2.4.1. Factors Affecting Water Requirements           65

2.4.2. Methods for Estimating Reference Evapotranspiration (ETo)   66
         - Modified Penman Equation                                66
         - Class A Pan Evaporation                                 67
         - Hargreaves- Saimani                                      67
2.4.3. Reference Evapotranspiration (ETo)                            68
2.4.4. Net Date Palm Water Requirements                               70
2.4.5. Gross Irrigation Water Requirements (INg)                      71
2.4.6. Farmer's Recommended INg                                      77
2.5. Irrigation Scheduling for Date Palm                              79
2.5.1. Introduction                                                   79
2.5.2. Simple Calculation Method                                      80 Steps for Determining Irrigation Schedule                    82
2.6. Water Allocation                                                 85
2.6.1. Cost of Irrigation Water                                       86
2.7. Government Institutions Dealing with Water Sector                89
2.7.1. Institutions Dealing With Water and Electricity                89
2.7.2. Institutions In-charge of Irrigation Water Management          90
2.7.3. Federal Environment Authority                                  90
2.7.4. Regional Municipalities                                        90
2.8. Extension Services                                               91
2.8.1. Extension Centers                                              91
2.8.2. Qualifications of the Extension Agents                         93
2.9. Constraints                                                      94
2.9.1. Water Resources Management                                    94
2.9.2. Agricultural Extension Systems                                94
2.9.3. Agricultural Research Systems                                  95

III. CONCLUSIONS and RECOMMENDATIONS                                 96
3.1. Conclusions                                                     96
3.2. Recommendations                                                 98
3.2.1. Water Resources Management                                   98
          - Ground-Water                                             98
          - Surface Water                                           98
          - Waste Water                                             98
          - Brackish Water                                          99
3.2.2. On-Farm Water Management                                     99
3.2.3. Research and Extension                                      100 Research                                                  100 Extension                                                 100
3.2.4. Capacity Building                                           101

  - Annex (I). Major Pests of Date Palm in the UAE
  - Annex (II). Most Important Date Palm
              - Varieties of the UAE

                              LIST OF FIGURES

Fig.(1):- Spread of the date palm through the Old World            5
Fig.(2):- Seed propagation used for breeding purposes             9
Fig.(3):- Date palm offshoot transplanting                       10
Fig.(4):- Date palm tissue culture transplanting                 12
Fig.(5a):- Addition of organic fertilizer                        18
Fig.(5b):- Addition of inorganic fertilizer                       19
Fig.(6):- Hand pollination                                        21
Fig.(7):- Hand pollen duster                                      22
Fig.(8):- Mechanized pollen duster                                23
Fig.(9):- Bunches cut-off                                         24
Fig.(10):- Reducing the number of fruits per plant                25
Fig.(11):- Pruning of date palm                                   26
Fig.(12-24):- Major pests of date palm in the UAE (27-30)   (Annex1)
Fig.(25):- Old date palm farms                                    33
Fig.(26):- New date palm farms                                    34
Fig.(27):- Global date production development                     36
Fig.(28):- Water production in the UAE(2005)                     54
Fig.(29):- Traditional basin/flood method of irrigation          59
Fig.(30):- Bubbler system of irrigation                           60
Fig.(31):- Drip system of irrigation                              62
                               LIST OF TABLES

Table (1):- Archaeological Sites in the UAE for Date Palm                              7
Table (2):- Date Palm Fertilization Program                                           20
Table (3):- Important Date Palm Varieties                                       (Annex2)
Table (4):- Development of Date Production (1994-2003)                                38
Table (5):- Marketed Dates from Different Region of the UAE (1999-2003)                39
Table (6):- UAE Imports and Export History (1970-2000)                                40
Table (7):- Food Value per 100g of Edible Date                                         41
Table (8):- Dates Categorization (ENSMA Norms)                                        42
Table (9):- Total Quantity of Water Stored in the Main Dams                           52
Table (10):- Water Production in UAE (2005) (Mm³)                                      53
Table (11):- Irrigation Water Quality Assessments                                      55
Table (12):- Total Cropped Areas and Crop Production in the UAE                        56
Table (13):- Number of farms and Total Cropped Areas (2002)                           56
Table (14):- Cropped Areas Under Different Irrigation Systems                          63
Table (15):- Total Number of Productive Wells and the Total Areas Under Modern
              Irrigation Systems in the UAE                                           64
Table (16):- Estimated Reference Evapotranspiration                                   69
Table (17a):- Kc Values for Date palm                                                 70
Table (17b):- Ks Values for Various Soils                                              70
Table (18a):- Matured Date Palm Gross Irrigation Requirements (Modified Penman)        71
Table (18b):- Matured Date Palm Gross Irrigation Requirements
               (Class A Pan Evaporation)                                              72
Table (18c):- Matured Date Palm Gross Irrigation Requirements
               (Hargreaves&Saimani)                                                    73
Table (19a):- Matured Date Palm Irrigation Requirements (Under Basin Irrigation)       74
Table (19b):- Matured Date Palm Irrigation Requirements (Under Bubbler Irrigation)     75
Table (19c):- Matured Date Palm Irrigation Requirements (Under Drip Irrigation)        75
Table (20):- Estimated Date Palm Water Requirements (Age of the trees)                 76
Table (21a):-Recommended Farmers Date Palm Irrigation Requirements
             (Sandy Loam Soils)                                                       77
Table (21b):- Recommended Farmers Date Palm Irrigation Requirements
               (Coarse Sand /gravelly sub- soil)                                      78
Table (22a):-Irrigation Schedule for Matured Date Palm (Under Basin Irrigation)        81
Table (22b):-Irrigation Schedule for Matured Date Palm (Under Bubbler Irrigation)      81
Table (23a, b&c):- Steps for Determining the Irrigation Schedule for Matured Date Palm
              (Under Bubbler Irrigation)                                            82-84
Table (24):-Cost of Pumped Ground Water                                                87
Table (25):-Extension Centers Of the Different Regions of UAE                          92
Table (26):-Qualifications of the Extension Agents with Regard to the Regional
             Departments of Agricultures (MOEW, UAE)                                   93
                                     ANNEX 1:

Fig.(12a):- Adult Red Palm Weevil (RPW)
Fig.(12b):- Larva RPW
Fig.(13):- Damage due to RPW
Fig.(14):- Pheromone and Kairomone Trap
Fig.(15):- Adult Lesser Date Moth (Humairah)
Fig.(16):- Damage of Date Fruit
Fig.(17):- Adult Long horn Stem Borer
Fig.(18):- Adult Rhinoceros Beetle (Al-Agoor)
Fig.(19):- Light Trap to Capture Adult Beetle
Fig.(20):- Dubas Insect
Fig.(21):- Khamedj Disease ( Khayas-al-Talae)
Fig.(22):- False Smut (small spots on leaves)
Fig.(23):- False Bayoud Symptom
Fig.(24):- Black Scorch ( Magnoona ) (dark brown lesions)

                                     ANNEX 2:

Table (3):- Important date palm varieties

I would like to express my respect and grateful appreciation to His Highness

Dr. Mohammed Saeed Al Kindy, the Minister, Ministry of Environment and

Water (MOEW), for giving me the opportunity to prepare this study.

My gratitude is also extended to His Excellency Engineer Abdulla Abdul

Aziz, Acting Deputy Minister and Assistance Deputy Minister of Agricultural

Affairs for his guidance and assistance. My sincere appreciation is also

extended to his Excellency Engineer Mohammad Saqer Al-Asam, Assistant

Deputy Minister for Soil and Water Sector for his help with suggestions.

I am also thankful to Dr. Abdulla Hussain Al-Abood, Director of Research

and Extension at MOEW for his continuous help and assistance in providing

me with relevant data.

My sincere gratitude is also extended to Mr. Sultan Abdulla Alwan, Director

of the Department of the Northern Agriculture Region (NAR) of Ras-al-

Khaimah Emirate, for his assistance in facilitating my work during the

preparation of this study. I am equally thankful to Engineer Mohammad Saleh

Al-Mehrazi, Head Water and Soil Section (NAR), Engineer Saeed Hasson

AL-Baghaam, Director, AL-Humraniyah Ag.Res.Station (HARS) and Dr.

Sami Alawad, expert, biological control of insects (AOAD), for their

assistance in providing the relevant data. I am also thankful to Mrs . Omaima

Mohammad Jakka for her valuable assistance in typing and formatting the


Lastly but not the least, I am also thankful to my wife, Khushnood Abdulla

Saleem, for her tolerance and patience shown during the preparation of this

                            1. INTRODUCTION

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven Emirates: Abu

Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al khaymah, Fujairah, Umm al Quain and Ajman.

It has a total area of and is situated between latitude 22°-

28°E.The UAE is regarded as an arid and semi-arid region with high

temperature (annual average of 26°-28°c). The highest recorded was about

48°c during the month of June and the lowest about 4°during the month of

January. Relative humidity is higher than 50%. The average annual rainfull

varies from 40mm in the southern deserts to about 60 mm in the north –

eastern mountains.

The Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) is a blessed fruit tree that is often known

in this part of the world as a "tree of life". It has deep roots in the history,

heritage and tradition of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Arabian


It is one of the oldest domesticated crops that grows well in sandy soils and

also in areas of high water table, but it is not aquatic. It grows well under

saline conditions, but it is not a halophyte. The date palm is adapted to areas

with long, very hot summers with little rain and low humidity, but sufficient

underground water. These conditions are found in the arid sub-tropical deserts

of the Middle East.

His Highness, the late President of UAE, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al

Nahayan, God Bless his Soul, showed great interest and attachment to this

blessed tree. He has encouraged all the work related to the scientific

development of date palm cultivation and production. This is reflected in the

continuous expansion in the agricultural resources and investments in

scientific research projects dealing with date palm biology, conservation and

the improvement in date palm commercial varieties. The increase in the date

palm trees grown in the different Emirates of UAE is an outcome of the

extensive use of modern technologies in relation to date palm orchard

management and irrigation water management practices that helped in

increasing the yield and the fruit quality. In a short period of time UAE has

become one of the major countries in the world in terms of date palm

cultivation and dates production.

With the present uncertainty in the world production and the increasing world

population, the date palm is regarded as a good food source of high nutritive

value. This tree, therefore, provides food for the people who are living in

remote areas of UAE. It also plays an important role in reducing

desertification in areas suffering from harsh climatic and soil conditions. The

date palm fruit is marketed locally or packed and exported abroad, thereby

generating foreign exchange earnings.

The UAE government has formulated laws and regulations to safe-guard the

cultivation and dates production. Different strategies in this regard are being

executed by the different governmental organizations and institutions, private

date palm growers, and local societies. The Ministry of Environment and

Water in UAE (MOEW) is one of the governmental organizations that is

directly involved in the achievement of the governmental policies and the

short-term and long term goals. This is made possible through its research

stations in the different Emirates as well as in co-operation with the national,

regional and international organizations dealing with date palm cultivation

and dates production. Constructive discussion and dialogues led to the marked

improvement and expansion in date palm production.

The present study gives a general review of the history of the origin of date

palm and its importance for the region. The distribution of date palm varieties

is the different regions of UAE are summarized. Dates products and nutritive

values as well as the use of date palm products and by-products are high-

lighted. The date palm orchard management is as important aspect of date

production and fruit quality and the study also underlines its importance.

Water resources in the UAE are scarce. Groundwater resource is the main

source of irrigation water. It has been over exploited which in turn affected

both the availability of water and the deterioration of groundwater quality.

Discharges from the wells (pumped water) are greater than the actual recharge

of the aquifers. This negative water balance necessitates the use of non-

conventional water resources.

The date palm cultivation and its expansion on a large scale requires the

availability of sufficient amount of irrigation water of acceptable quality.

Hence, it becomes necessary to rationalize the use of irrigation water at the

field level.

In effect, the main focus of the study is on the irrigation of date palm.

Consideration is given to the appropriate irrigation management practices in

terms of methods of water application, water requirements and date palm

irrigation scheduling. The institutions dealing with the water sector are also


The role of applied research work and the importance of the extension

services are dealt with: Constraints are defined and conclusions and

recommendations dealing with all aspects of date palm cultivation, the

irrigation requirements and scheduling are all discussed at large.

 1.1. The Origin of Date Palm

The exact origin of date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) is somewhat obscure. It

is speculated, however, that it has originated in the area of north eastern Africa,

northern Arabia, Iraq and western Iran. It is believed that the date palm was one

of the first crops that was domesticated in these areas (Fig. 1).

       Fig (1): Spread of the date palm throughout the Old World (Munier, 1973).

Mesopitamia (Iraq) is considered the oldest place known to grow date palms. In

fact Mesopitamian civilization bear evidences to date palm cultivation and date

production and uses. Date palm trunk was used in the construction of the

Temple of the Moon God in Ur (Iraq) some 4000-5000 years ago (Krueger,

1995). The Sumerians considered the date palms the tree of good and evil. In

the 282 articles of the famous Code of Hammurabi (the sixth king of Babylon

dynasty), seven of them dealt with regulations that included the aspects of date

palm management and practices. The date palm tree also had great religious

significance to people of different cultures; Jesus Christ held the date palm and

lifted it as a symbol of peace as he was entering the city of Jerusalem.

Christians now use the leaves of the palm during the celebrations of Easter

Sunday. The Jewish religion considers the date to be one of the seven holy

seeds (the others being, wheat, barley, bean, onion, garlic and lentil). The Holy

Quran mentions date palm and dates in seven Suras out of the 114 Suras and in

20 Verses of the 6236 Verses. In Merriam Suras (Verses: 22, 23 and 24), it is

stated that the Prophet Jesus was born under a data palm and his mother Virgin

Mary ate "Rutub" (soft date) from the same date palm. Prophet Mohammad

stressed in "Ahadeet-al- Nabawi al- Shareef " the importance of date palm

management and the benefits of dates as a medicine for several human diseases.

Dates are used by Muslims during the month of Ramadan to "break" their


In the UAE, according to the archaeological and historical development, and

based on the pattern of date palm cultivation in the different regions of UAE, it

was suggested that date palm has prevailed for the past five millennia as

illustrated by the archaeological sites.

It is traced back to 2000 BC (Blatter, E, 1926). Table (1) shows the

archaeological sites in UAE where date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) was found.

                 Table (1): Archaeological sites in UAE for date palm

  Species       Umm Al-Nar         Wadi Sug          Iron Age       Mleiha/Al-Dur

 Date palm        Tell Abraq       Tell Abraq       Tell Abraq          Mleiha
  Phoenix           Dalma                           Muwailah            Al-Dar
dactylifera          Hili

1.2. Date Palm Propagation

 There are mainly three techniques that are used to propagate date palm:

  (a) Seed propagation, (b) Offshoot propagation and (c) Tissue culture

     based propagation.

  (a) Seed propagation

  Propagation through this technique is also known as sexual propagation. It

  is regarded as the origin of date palm propagation that is used in the

  different parts of the world. Although it is regarded as the quickest

  technique, it is nevertheless not recommended for date palm production

  due to the following reasons:

     - It is not easy to determine the sex of the progeny of the date palm as

        it is a dioecious species (half male and half female). This can only

        be seen at the flowering stage.

     - It is not true-to-type propagation as there will be much variation

        within the progeny.

     - It’s not possible to market the product as there will considerable

        variation in terms of yield and fruit quality and hence low marketing


        However, seed propagation technique could be used for breeding

        purposes where unfavorable conditions of growing date palm prevail


               Fig (2): Seed propagation used for breeding purposes

(b)   Offshoot propagation
This technique is also known as vegetative or asexual propagation. It is

widely used by date palm growers for the following reasons:

- It ensures uniformity of the fruit characteristics as the offshoot

   plants are true-to-type to the mother palm.

- Fruit bearing in case of offshoot plants is 2 – 3 years earlier than

   seeding plantation.

Although, out of 20 – 30 offshoots that appear during the life time of a

date palm, only 3 – 4 offshoots are suitable for planting in one year.

Another 1 – 2 years are required at the nursery before the actual

planting is carried out in the permanent field (Nixon and Carpenter,


Offshoot planting requires care at the field level. The following

precautionary measures are recommended:

 - Selected matured offshoots would be 3 – 5 years old plants free

    from date palm pests and diseases.

 - The base diameter and the weight are both functions of the variety

    to be planted, on the average 20 cm and 15 kg respectively.

 - Offshoots transplanting is done in UAE during the month of

    March/April. Nixon and Carpenter (1978) outlined the method of

    removal and preparation for planning of the offshoot plants. The

    treatment after planting was also discussed (fig.3).

                     Fig (3): Date palm offshoot transplanting

(c) Tissue culture propagation
The application of the technique of tissue culture in date palm

propagation is also known as in vitro propagation. If compared to the

first two techniques (seed and offshoot propagation), the tissue culture

propagation is superior and provides many advantages:

- Rapid large scale multiplication of selected healthy cultivars under

   controlled laboratory conditions.

- Plants produced are generally uniform in their vegetative and fruit


- Exchange of plant material between regions and countries is easy

   and safe.

- Production can be achieved at a large scale.

Tissue culture technique and its reference to data palm have been

reviewed by a number of researchers (Zaid, A., 1984; 1986).

There are a few laboratories world wild producing date palm

commercially through tissue culture technique. In the UAE, Green

Coast Nurseries partner of Date Palm Development in the UK;

Alwathba Marionnet, partner of Marionnet in France and the Date Palm

Tissue Culture Laboratory of UAE University (DPTCL).

The Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW) subsidized about

200000 of good varieties of tissue cultured date palm from these

laboratories to the farmers (Aboodi, A.H. and Al.Shakir, S.H., 2004)


Fig (4): Date palm tissue culture transplanting

1.3.Date Palm Field Preparation:

     A successful date plantation requires prior knowledge of the selected site

in terms of its soil conditions, the availability and the quality of the irrigation

water, farm inputs (tools and equipments, fertilizer needs, irrigation system

lay-out and installation etc.). During land selection for plantation, the

following steps are considered:-

      1.3.1. Soil Physical and Chemical Analysis: for texture, infiltration

       rate, soil water holding capacity, soil salinity (ECe), level of fertility

      (N, P, K) and organic matter content.

     1.3.2. Land Leveling: to ensure better leaching and avoiding drainage

      problem and also facilitate the designing and installation of the

      irrigation network.

      1.3.3. Planting Operations Including:

      -Selection of the variety and the type of transplant (offshoot or tissue

     culture plants).

          -Time of Planting:

             - Spring (from mid-February to end of April)

            - Autumn (from late August to end of October)

           -Tree Spacing:

              -Commercial date palm planting considers tree spacing of

              10mx10m (100palms/ha).

 -Modern date palm plantation requires the tree spacing to be

 8mx8m (156 palms/ha.), which is the usual practice.

 -Traditional old farm date plantations have a spacing of

 ( 6m X 6m) (280 palms/ha.)

-Planting Depth:

 -Care is to be taken not to cover the" heart" of the plant with

  irrigation water.

 -Ensuring that the diameter of the bulb of the plant is at the

  same level as the soil surface.

-Time (stage) of Transplanting:

  -After keeping the date transplants for 6-12 months in the

  nursery in order to allow the plant to adapt to the local

  environmental conditions.

  -After the development of sufficient number of pinnae leaves

   -Offshoot or Tissue Culture Plant Protection:

  -A tent of old date leaves are used as a recommended practice

  to protect the plant from animals and changing climatic


-Basin Preparation:

  -After transplanting, a basin is prepared around the date palm

  with a recommended basin diameter of about 2.5 - 3.0 m and

  a basin depth of 25 – 30 cm.

 -A localized system of irrigation is used for watering


 -Supplying sufficient amount of water especially at the young

  stage depending on the soil characteristics.

-Avoiding excess irrigation at the transplanting stage.

 -Checking periodically irrigation water quality (ECw) and the

  soil salinity (ECe) in order to minimize the drop in the

  potential yield.

-Fertilizer Application:

 -No fertilizer is applied at the time of transplanting in order to

  allow the roots to develop and the palm to stand firm on the

 ground (about 6 months from the time of transplanting).

 -Addition of 1kg of compound fertilizer and 500 gm of urea

 during the months of March-April (as recommended from field

  trials-discussed in the later parts of the study).

1.4. Date Palm Fertilizer Requirements

Land and orchard preparation for date palm cultivation necessitates the

assessment of the soil fertility status and the availability and quality of the

irrigation water. Such investigations are a pre-requisite for proper

establishment and growth of the transplanted offshoots or tissue culture based

date plants. However, most farmers believe that date palm trees survive under

severe conditions and that their need for nutrients (maciro and micro

elements) are not essential for the palm survival and growth. This concept is

gradually proven incorrect through applied researches on date palm

fertilization requirements carried out under specific environmental conditions.

Research results are sometimes not enough to establish norms for the different

agro- ecological conditions. Besides, farmers do not accept these results due

to inefficiency of the agricultural extension services and/or actual application

of the finding in their farms (pilot farms).

     1.4.1. Fertilization

Date palm trees respond to different types of fertilizers especially in soils of

sandy or gravelly texture showing low fertility.

Traditionally, especially in old farms and in the mountainous regions, farmers

immerse dry fish known locally as "Al Omah", in their water storage tanks, to

be used as a natural source of fertilizer.

 However, numerous investigations have been made in the research stations

in the UAE to gather information's on the fertilizer use on date palm in terms

of types of fertilizers, their rate and time of applications. Organic and

inorganic fertilizers were widely unused to improve the yield and fruit quality

of date palm and to compensate the annual exports of large amounts of the

macro elements (N.P. K).Hass and Bliss (1935) reported that one hectare of

adult date (120 palms) exports 29 kg of nitrogen, 5 kg of phosphate and 70 kg

of potassium. On the other hand, Furraud and Barber (1950) estimated the

nitrogen export per hectare of Deglet Nour variety at about 78 kg. It is

therefore, of vital importance to know that whatever quantity is extracted of

the macro and micro elements is reflected in the vegetative as well as the fruit

characteristics of the date palm (El-Shurafa, 1984).

     1.4.2. Fertilization Program:

    At the field level, well mixed and fermented organic fertilizer is added by

making a trench around the date palm tree at a distance of 60-90cm from the

trunk and with a depth of 30cm. The removed soil is again used to refill the

hole after the addition of the organic fertilizer. The added fertilizer is

generally in the order of 50-100 kg (per tree per year) depending on the age of

the tree and the soil fertility status (fig5a).

                        Fig.(5a): Addition of organic fertilizer

Research work, however, showed that the addition of organic fertilizer alone

did not have a signigicant difference on the date yield and fruit quality

(Shabanah, et. al., 2000). In another research finding on fertilization

requirements, conducted at the Humraniyah Agriculture Research Station

(HARS) of the Ministry of Environments and Water (MOEW) of UAE, it was

noticed that the addition of both organic and inorganic fertilizers improved the

fruit characteristics (quality) of Lulu variety. It was shown that, according to

the age of the tree, the yearly addition of 5-10 kg of organic fertilizer, 200 gm

of N, 100 gm of P205 and 75gm of K2O ( per tree per year), gave the

maximum yield in terms of quantity and quality of dates fig(5b). The

production has increased by about 86% (Abu Alkibash, H.M, Sattar, H.M. et

al., 2002).

                      Fig.(5b): Addition of inorganic fertilizer

   1.4.3. Recommended Date Palm Fertilization Program:

Most of the inorganic fertilizer contains N, P and K. These minerals

(nutrients) are applied together as a compound fertilizer or individually

depending on the need of the tree. The fertilizer is broadcasted around the date

palm but care is taken when applying irrigation water, as excess of water will

result in the leaching of the soluble nutrients. A Summarized table (2) is given

below showing the fertilization requirements for a date palm tree from the

time of its planting until maturity (Shabanah 2000).

                         Table (2): Date Palm Fertilization Program
                                        (Tree / Year)

                                                        Rate of Application
       Time of             Type of                  ) According to Age of Tree)
      Application         Fertilizer                                        Adult
                                             < 1year*            1 year
                                                                           >10 years
        October         Organic
                                              2.5 kg              5 kg       50 kg
            to          Compound
                                               100 g             200 g       2 kg
      November          Trace
                                                5 kg              10 g       100 g

        January         Urea                    50 g             100 g       1 kg

                        organic              100 cm³            250 cm³     2 liters
          April         Compound
                                               100 g             200 g       2 kg
                                                5g                10 g       100 g
          May           fertilizer
                                or                 __           200 g**      2 kg
            to          (12-4-24)
          June          nitrate
                        Urea                    50 g             100 g       1 kg.

* Application for tissue culture starts after 3 months of transplanting.

**Application to be started after 4 years of planting.

1.5. Other Date Orchard Cultural Practices

1.5.1. Pollination

This is an important date palm cultural practice as it affects the percentage of

fruit set and yield per bunch. Delaying pollination after female spathes

cracking reduced the percentage of fruit set (shaheen, 1986). Anther factor can

be the method of pollination and pollen concentration (El Mardi, et al.,1998).

There are three methods of pollination:

(i) Hand pollination, (ii) Hand pollen duster, (iii) mechanical pollen duster

(i) Hand Pollination

This method has been widely used by farmers, It involves the cutting of the

strands of a freshly opened male flower and then inserting 2 or 3 of the dry

inverted male strands into the female spadix and then the distal end is tied in

order to hold the male strand in place. A paper bag or a net is placed over the

pollinated flowers and tied in order to protect it from rain, wind and bird

attacks (fig.6).

                             Fig.(6): Hand pollination

(ii) Hand Pollen Duster

This is a locally made semi – mechanical device that consists of a small piston

pump connected to a reservoir and mounted on aluminum pipes. Air pressure

is exerted inside the piston pump by pulling a string down and the pollen is

pushed out by releasing the string. However, it is important to test the pollen

in the laboratory for its viability before applying it. The pollen is then mixed

with soft white wheat flour in the ratio of 1:9 at the same time making sure

that the mixing is perfect before any dusting takes place (fig.7).

                             Fig.(7): Hand pollen duster

(iii)Mechanized Pollen Duster

This pollination technique consists of a small air compressor operated by two

stroke gasoline engine, a ten litre pressurized storage tank, a sprayer gun and a

set of light weight plastic pipes. A hand pistil is used to push the pollen

(mixed 1: 9 with white soft flour) through the pipes (fig.8). This process takes

place, after 3 – 4 days from the female pollen florescence and it is to be

repeated after 5 – 7 days for three times for each palm (Shabanah and

Khalfan, 1995). Phoenix sylvsteris is used as a provider of the male strands

that contain a greater number of pollen with high percentage of viability.

                         Fig.(8): Mechanized pollen duster

1.5.2. Thinning

Farmers growing high value cultivars practice this technique as the different

methods used in this regard result in the increase in date yield, fruit size and

quality (ElShazly, 1999). This practice is actually required to limit the number

of bunches per tree. This helps in the availability of enough water and

nutrients that would have been otherwise not enough for the growth of the

palm. There are two techniques for thinning :(i) Bunches cutoff (ii) Reducing

the number of fruits per tree.

(i) Bunches Cut Off

Thinning is done in relation to the size and number and the number of leaves.

Under UAE conditions 6 to 8 bunches are left on the date palm. This

operation is performed either before pollination or 35 to 45 days after

pollination. The later method helps in knowing the fruit setting (fig.9).

                                 Fig.(9): Bunches cut off

(ii) Reducing the Number of Fruits per Tree

This process includes:

-cutting off the strands in the different parts of the bunch.

-cutting off about 1/3 of the upper portion of the flower at pollination time


The degree of fruit thinning generally affects the physical and chemical

properties of the fruit (Moustafa, 1998).

                 Fig.(10): Reducing the number of fruits

1.5.3. Pruning

Date palm tree like any other fruit tree requires pruning. The process involves

the removal of any old, dry and diseased leaves as these leaves act as safe –

heaven for insects and pests. The removal of some offshoots and the pruning

of others are also practiced. It is recommended to do the pruning twice a year


Fig.(11): Pruning practice of date palm

1.5.4. Major Pests of Date Palm and their Control Measures

There are many insect pests and fungal diseases that attack the date palm

(Phoenix dactylifer L.). The major threat facing date palm propagation and

production in the UAE is coming from the Red Palm Weevil (Rhynchophorus

ferrugineus). Other pests include the Lesser Date Moth, the Longhorn Stem

Borer, the Rhinoceros Beetle and the Dubas bug. In fungal diseases, the list

includes Khamedj disease ( Inflorescence Rot), the False Smut, Black Scorch

and False Bayoud to mention a few. Gassouma, 2004, surveyed and studied

over the last two decades, the anthropod pests of the date palm in the UAE.

Annex (1) contains all the figures (12-24) of the insect pests and fungal

diseases. Insect Pests:

      -The Red Palm Weevil (Rhycophorus ferrugineus).

 It is an introduced pest to the UAE that was reported for the first time in

1985 in the area of Ras-al-Khaimah. It is now considered as one of the major

pests attacking date palm tree (Fig.12a).It is locally called " Susat-al-

Nakheel ". Larvae are the main destructive form of the insect (Fig.12b). They

feed and damage the main trunk (Fig.13). Control measures include: (a)

collecting the adult insect using pheromone and kairomone traps (Fig.14); (b)

planting date palm at a wider space (8m x 8m), (c) spraying with organo

phosphorus insecticides during the season of insect activities (March – April-

May), (d) fumigating the infected main trunk with Aluminum Phosphide

pellets, (e) using neutral and biological approach through an Integrated Pest

Management Programme (IPM) which is currently in operation in the UAE.

-The Lesser Date Moth (Batrachedra amydraula)

 This insect is locally known as "Humairah" (Fig.15). The larval stage is

harmful as the larvae attack the developing date fruits resulting in

considerable losses in date yield (Fig.16). Control of the insect is done

through: (a) removing the infected fruits, (b) spraying organophosphorus

insecticides two or three weeks after pollination.

   -The Longhorn Stem Borer (Jebusae hammerschmiditis)

This insect is also called locally "Haffar-al-Saaq". It attacks and causes

damages to old date trees (Fig.17). Good date palm orchard management

practices and spraying with organophosphorus insecticides prevent the attack.

   -Rhinoceros Beetle (Oryctes sp.)

 This locally known insect pest, "Al-Agoor", attacks the roots at the larvae

stage. (Fig.18). The damage results in wounds that provide the entry for the

Red Palm Weevil. Removal of weak and dead trees, good fertilization

programme, use of light trap to capture adult beetle (Fig.19) are some of the

main control measures.

   - Dubas Insect (Ommattissus binotatus)

The Dubas bug (Om mattissus binotatus ), which is also known locally as

"Dubas", attacks leaves and rachis of date palm at both the adult and nymph

stage . It causes damage by sucking the leaf sap (Fig.20). Good cultural

practices (plant spacing and separation of offshoots) and the use of

insecticides are some of the control measures used to control the insect. Fungal Diseases:

  - Khamedj Disease (or Inflorescence Rot)

The casual organism of this disease is Mauginiella scaettae. The transmission

of the disease occurs through contaminated pollen. It is locally known as

“Khayas-al-Talae" (Fig.21). Control methods include: (a) burning of the

infected male inflorescence, (b) pruning of the old and the infected leaves, (c)

continuous care for the apical bud, (d) spraying with Copper Oxychloride.

   - False Smut (Graphiola Leaf Spot)

The disease is caused by Graphiola phoenicis which develops small

spots on both sides of the pinnae and on the rachis (Fig.22).

Eventually, heavily infected leaves die. Leaf pruning, regular

irrigation and proper weeding, wider plant spacing and spraying

with Copper Oxychloride could be considered as control measures

for reducing the damage.

    - False Bayoud

The symptoms of the disease, which is caused by Fusarium

oxysporum, appear from the base of the leaves (one side of the

leaf )and it spreads upward to the apex and then from the top to the

bottom of the leaf resulting in the destruction of the leaf (Fig.23).

Good date palm cultural practices and the correct irrigation

frequency could prevent the appearance of such a disease.

      -Black Scorch

This disease is also locally known as " Magnoona"or "Fool's disease". The

causal organism is Thielaviopsis paradoxa. The fungus attacks all organs of

the date palm resulting in lesions that are dark brown to black (Fig.24).

Petioles, fruit strands and fruit stalks are also attacked. Excessive irrigation is

to be avoided and spraying with appropriate fungicides is to be undertaken.

1.6. Date Palm Agro-Ecological Distribution Areas

Date palm has been the oldest fruit tree that was known to the people of UAE

since thousands of years. It was used as a building material and as an

important source of food. Date palm in the UAE was largely grown under

three main agro-ecological areas and well defined zones.

1.6.1. Coastal Regions:

This is the zone that stretches from the Western Coasts of UAE (Coasts of the

Arabian Gulf) to its eastern coasts (Gulf of Oman).Areas lik Jumaira in Dubai

Emirate and Al-Hayra in Sharjah Emirate were well known for date palm

cultivation in the Western Coasts. Likewise, in the Eastern Coasts, date palm

cultivation stretches from Kalba in the south to Diba in the north.

1.6.2. Mountainous Regions:

Date palm oasis is seen spreading from the plains and mountains that

stretch from Ras-al Khaimah (RAK) in the north to Al-Ain city in the south.

These oasis differ in their size and date palm plantation depending on the

availability of water. The system of watering of date palm trees is either

through springs (as is the case for Masafi and Khatt) or from "Aflaj"(as is the

case in Al-Ain, Dhaid and Falj-al-Moualla) or using tube wells (as is seen in

Adhn). The amount and frequency of rain in this area are the major factors for

date plantation.

1.6.3. Oases:

There is a number of oases in UAE where date palm grows. The most

important of these are Al-Ain and Liwa. Al-Ain oases are irrigated with a

network of "Aflaj", while Liwa oases depends on dug wells as the water table

is at 5-10 metes depth (Shabanah,H., & Al-Shouraqi,R.,1995). Date palm

irrigation is practiced at its early age, but as it develops, it relies on the

shallow water table for its water need.

1.6.4. Date Palm Farming Systems:

UAE is regarded as an arid and semi-arid region where temperatures are

high and annual rainfall varying between 60 mm and 120 mm. However, the date

palm trees were well adapted to the existing environmental conditions and date

palm cultivation and date production had gradually developed since its

establishment hundreds of years ago. Old Date Palm Farms:

These were established before the sixties. The plantation of date palm

trees were too crowded and of mixed and sometimes unknown varieties.

Tree spacing was not more than 4 meters and offshoots were left

growing on the mother palm until fruiting (fig.25). Irrigation water was

supplied byway of springs and "Aflaj" through open ditches. These

farms were difficult to manage both in terms of cultural practices and

the low date yielding varieties that were grown in these old farms.

                         Fig (25): Old date palm farms New Date Palm Farms:

Another type of date palm farming system was established in the seventies and

eighties where modern scientifique date palm management techniques were and

are still practiced (fig.26). Plant spacing is mostly 8mx8m. Modern irrigation

systems (bubbler, drip and open polyethelyne hoses) are used. Date palms of

commercial value (Khisab, Khalaas, Lulu, Birhi, Shishi, Hilali, Jabri and others)

are widely cultivated but with a wider spacing (10m X 10m).

                          Fig (26): New date palm farms

1.6.5. Important Date Palm Varieties of UAE

There are about 185 cultivars that are grown in UAE, but at present only 25 varieties

are considered as commercial varieties (Aboodi and Shakir, 2004). A large number of

these varieties were imported from the Gulf Countries, Iraq, and Pakistan.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (previously, MAF), and presently the

Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW) of the UAE, conducted a survey on

the existing date palm varieties which was based on their adaptability to local

environmental conditions, vegetative and fruit characteristics as well as their

production potential. (AOAD, 1995) Some of the most important date palm

varieties of the UAE are summarized in table (3) (Annex2).

According to a recent study conducted at Al-Humraniyah Agricultural

Research Station (HARS) in RAK Emirates of the UAE, important date palm

varieties where planted and the effect of temperature, humidity and also the

cumulative temperature on the period of flowering and ripening were studied

( Bandr et al.,2006 ).

1.7. Development of Date Palm Production:

Dates are produced in the hot arid region of the UAE and are locally consumed and

also marketed as a food source of high nutritional value.

World wide, date production has increased substantially. In 1963 production stood at

1.8 million tones (MT) in total. It has increased to 2.4 (MT) in 1983 and to 5.4 (MT)

in 2001 (FAOSTAT., 2002) reaching 6.7 (MT) by 2003 ( FAOSTAT., 2004).

The increase of 4.9 (MT) since 1963 shows an annual expansion of about 6.8%.

Fig.(27) shows that the global date production has almost doubled in 2001 as

compared to 1963 and it is on the rise as indicated for 2003.

                     7                                                   6.7
                     6                                       5.4
     Yield ( MT)

                                     2.6         2.8
                         1963       1983        1985        2001        2003

                         Fig.(27): Global date production development (FAOSTAT., 2004)

During the years between 1994 and 2001, the major date producing countries

expanded their production to about 43%.

In 2001 alone about 69% of the total amount of dates grown globally was produced

by five major countries: Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iraq

( FAOSTAT., 2002). In the Arab World, however, it is estimated that a total amount

of 4.5 (MT) of dates were produced in 2003 which represented about 67% of the

World production of which 11.3% was the UAE contribution ( FAOSTAT.,2004).

About 28% of the global production in 2003 was the contribution from the GCC

countries (1.9 MT of dates) (FAOSTAT., 2004).During the last decade (1994-2003)

date production in the GCC countries has increased by 86.7% of which both Saudi

Arabia( KSA ) and the UAE where the major date producers ( 0.83MT and 0.76 MT,

respectively) (FAOSTAT., 2004). The development of date production over the last

ten years (1994-2003) including that of the World, the GCC countries, and the Arab

World is represented in (Table.4).

                         Table (4): Development of date production
                                       (1994 - 2003)

                                          Date production (MT)*
                             Global                GCC               Arab World

          1994                 4.58                 1.00                2.78
          1995                 4.85                 1.03                2.90
          1996                 5.02                 1.08                3.07
          1997                 4.96                 1.17                3.20
          1998                 5.44                 1.21                3.39
          1999                 5.62                 1.57                3.98
          2000                 6.17                 1.82                4.28
          2001                 6.49                 1.91                4.53
          2002                 6.74                 1.87                4.48
          2003                 6.75                 1.87                4.51

  *MT = Million tones

1.7.1. Dates Production and Marketing in the UAE

Date palm is the most important fruit tree in the UAE. It's plantation has largely

expanded from the oases, where date palms were traditionally grown, to the newly

developed agricultural areas all over the different regions of the Emirates. This

steady growth of date cultivation was possible due to the interest and encouragement

of the late President Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan AL Nahyan and the Rulers of the

Emirates. Subsidies were provided to farmers for farm inputs, dates prices and


Date production in the UAE has increased drastically from 8000 (MT) in 1970 to

757601 (MT) in 2003 ( UAE AGRICENT, 2004) which reflects a substantial

increase of about 93,70 percent. This is as a result of the increase in the harvested

area that increased from 640(ha) in 1970 (FAO AGRISTAT Data Base, 2001) to

185329.5(ha) in 2003 (UAE AGRICENT, 2004). The marketed dates, based on the

different regions in the UAE are shown in table (5). It indicates a marked increase in

terms of both the marketed quantity and the revenue for the period from 1999 to


                  Table (5): Marketed Dates from Different Regions of the UAE

                 1999                  2000                  2001                  2002                  2003
           Quantity     Value    Quantity     Value    Quantity     Value    Quantity     Value    Quantity     Value
            (Tons)    (DHX10³)    (Tons)    (DHX10³)    (Tons)    (DHX10³)    (Tons)    (DHX10³)    (Tons)    (DHX10³)

Central    2126        5225      2204        9565      3004       13262      3284       23216      4059       29502

Northern   3700       11524      4473       17764      5550       21153      5908       30750      6144       32632

Eastern    1706        3254      2499        5761      3402        6732      3804       10091      3451        9094

           10348      54684      17228      92574      18416 104236 27868 192913 36854 272446

 Total     17880      74687      26404 125664 30372 145383 40864 256970 50508 343674

Source: UAE AGRICENT, MOEW, Dubai, 2004

On the other hand, the UAE has become a net exporter in 1999.

Table (6) presents the UAE important export history since 1970-1999.

(FAO AGRISTAT-Database, 2001).

                  Table (6): UAE Imports Exports History (1970-2000)

                           Imports                            Exports

                Qty (MT)       Val.(1000$)         Qty (MT)       Val.(1000$)

    1970           1.479              144             0                   0

    1980           3.091              610            2.697               774

    1990          65.000             21.600         57.000              15.400

    1999          180.000            47.000         189.189             57.973

    1.7.2. Date Palm Products and By-products Dates and Date Products

       - Dates:

    Dates are consumed at both the semi-ripened "Rutub "state and the fully ripened

    "Tamr" state. The importance of dates as a source of food is mentioned in different

    Verses of the Holy Quean.

    Dates contain important basic elements that are needed for human growth .The sugar

    they contain is mostly in the form of invert sugar (a mix of glucose and fructose).

    Fresh dates give high content of invert sugar. Semi-dried dates contain equal

    amounts of invert sugar and sucrose, while dried dates contain high amounts of

    sucrose than the semi-dried ones. Depending on the variety, dried fruits contain

    about 7%of moisture content while fresh dates contain about 80%of water content.

    Table (7) shows the food value per 100g of edible portion (based on standard

    analysis) (ICARDA, 2004).

                           Table (7): Food value per 100g of edible date.

                   Fresh                                                 Fresh
                                  Dried                                                Dried
                  uncooked                                              uncooked
Calories             142          274-930           Phosphorus            350 mg      63-103mg
Moisture          31.9-78.5g     7.0-26.1g              Iron               6.0 mg    3.0-13.7 mg
Protein            0.9-2.6g       1.7-3.9g           Potassium                -         648 mg
Fat                0.6-1.5g       0.1-1.2g       Vit.A(B carotene)      110-175 mg      15.6mg
Carbohydrates       36.6g       72.9-77.6g           Thiamine                 -      0.03-0.09mg
Fiber              2.6-4.5g       2.0-8.5g           Riboflavin               -      0.10-0.16mg
Ash                0.5-2.8g       0.5-2.7g             Niacin            4.4-6.9mg    1.4-2.2mg
Calcium             34mg        59-103mg            Tryptophan                -        10-17mg

However, the Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ENSMA)

has published the standards (No. 656) for fully packed seedless or with seed dates

that can be used directly for human consumption. The dates are classified

according to:

-Type of sugar: These are either disaccharides or monosaccharide.

- Disaccharides date varieties like:

  Daglat Noor ,Daglat Baidaa ,Mascani and Ambara.

- Monosaccharide date varieties like:

  Barhi , Khasab , Fard , Mabsali , Naghaal,Birhi and Khalaas.

- Dates forms: These are of two forms.

       - with seeds.

       - without seeds and stuffed or unstuffed dates.

- Fruit size: Depends on categorization

Dates are divided into three categories (small, medium and large) based on the

number of dates in each 500 g (Table8).

                        Table (8): Dates categorization (ENSMA Norms)

                                        Number of Dates:
                With seeds:
                                        > 110dates
                   -   Small
                                        Up to 110 dates
                   -   Medium
                                        < 90dates
                   -   Large
                                        Number of Dates:
                Without seeds:
                                        > 90dates
                   -   Small
                                        Up to 90 dates
                   -   Medium
                                        < 80dates
                   -   Large

ENSMA also provided the Emirates Specifications regarding the details to be

mentioned on the label of the packed dates. Criteria for the transportation and

storage as well as the quality control of dates is also formulated by ENSMA.

     - Date Products:

 - Date Paste

There is a good demand for this product from bakeries, confectionaries chocolate

factories and even housewives as date based sweets. Some factories like the

Emirates Date Factory (EDF) produce this product on commercial bases.

  - Date Juice or Syrup

This form is known locally as Dibs or rubs. It has a local market and is also

exported. The product is packed in large plastic containers and in 400 ml glass jars

and 1.5 kg plastic containers. EDF is producing this product for local and export

purposel. It is also produced by farmers for their own consumption.

  - Date Jam

This product is made from pitted or past dates that are cooked with acid and pectin

during its preparation. Date jams are sometimes admixed with other fruits. Though it

has limited use in UAE, requests from western countries are increasing for date Jam.

EDF is the only factory dealing with date Jam production.

   - Chopped Date

Diced or pitted dates are used as a food ingredient by the food industry. Dextrose is

added to the diced dates to make it more acceptable by the consumer. EDF is

catering for overseas demand (especially from Canada and the USA).

   - Cull Dates

They are not suitable for human consumption and are used as animal feed source. Palm Products

The use of palm products varied in the different sectors of the economy including

agriculture, transport and construction as well as its use on domestic level especially

in urban areas.

   - Leaves

An average of 10 to 14 leaves are formed by the palm every year. Cutting these

leaves as a maintenance practice of the palm, and considering the large areas of date

plantation a large quantity of these are made available every year. Whole leaves are

used in fencing and is also used in house construction where they are laid down

across the ceiling beams (usually of palm trunk) upon which mud is poured to make

the roof cover.

On the other hard, midribs are used to make building boards of 20×50 cm, and used

as portioning or roofing, but after removing the spines and the leaflets and subjecting

the midribs to some strengthening process. Leaflets are mainly used for making

mates, hats, fans, baskets and ropes.

- Trunk

The trunk's main use is for its wood as it has coarse vascular bundles exhibiting

great tensile strength. It is used as poles, beams, rafters, pillars and jetties. Sawn into

coarse planks, they are made up into stair cases, doors and shutters which are widely

used for houses.

- Pollen

It is reportedly ingested to enhance fertility.

- Spathes

After pollination male spathes are removed and pieces are sometimes crewed by


- Empty Bunches

 After trimming the spine lets, the bunch is used as a broom.

- Spike Lets

They ate eaten by camels and the stalk fiber is often used as coarse sowing thread.

                              II. Date Palm Irrigation

2.1. Introduction

The date palm ( Phoenix dactylifera ), like any other fruit tree, requires enough

water to compensate the losses due to the soil surface evaporation and the

transpiration from the leaves ( cumulatively known as evapotranspiration) as well

the amount of water that is needed during its growth stage and fruiting. It is a fact

that date palms grow under desertic climatic conditions and are drought resistant and

salt tolerant as compared to other crops. However, it is equally important to irrigate

the tree with sufficient amount of water of good quality in order to produce

acceptable yield and better fruit quality. Other factors to be considered when

estimating date palm water requirements are those related to the environmental

conditions of the location where date palm trees are cultivated. This includes the

different meteorological parameters (temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and

direction, sunshine hours, solar radiation…etc.), soil physical and chemical

characteristics (texture, infiltration rate, soil soil physical and chemical

characteristics (texture, infiltration rate, soil salinity…etc.) and also the

crop (date palm) characteristics (age, variety, spacing, root depth,…etc.). All these

factors and the quantity and quality of the irrigation water are considered for

estimating the date palm water requirements. The objective is always to achieve the

optimal utilization of water. In this regard the system of irrigation used and the

frequency and time of irrigation scheduling become important aspects of date palm


2.2. Irrigation Water Management

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven emirates: Abu-Dhabi,

Dubai, Sharjah, Ras-Al-Khaimah, Fujeirah, Um-Al-Quwain and Ajman. It is situated

in the eastern corner of The Arabian Peninsula and is boardered in the north by the

Arabian Gulf and in the east by the Gulf of Oman and in the south and west by The

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The climate of UAE is characterized by very high summer temperatures (ranging

from 40°c - 45°c). Maximum relative humidity reaches 79% while the daily

evaporation reaches 8.2mm. Mean annual rainfall is about 120mm, fluctuating from

about 335mm during rainy seasons to less than 15mm during dry periods. Rainy

seasons are usually extending from October to May. Floods flow from mountains

towards the plains at times of heavy rainfall. Soils generally range from sandy to

sandy loam with high permeability and low organic matter content, while in the

mountainous areas it ranges from stony to gravelly. Soil salinity due to secondary

salinization increases in non-sandy areas as a result of the use of saline irrigation

water. Coastal areas are affected due to higher sea water intrusion. Water resources

for agriculture are basically surface water and groundwater. Falajes and springs are

also used for irrigating crops. Tertiary sewage water is used for the irrigation of

landscapes, while desalinated water is used for domestic and industrial purposes. In

same cases it is blended with irrigation water at the farm level to be used for

agricultural production. The UAE government, through the Ministry of Environment

and Water (MOEW) and other related authorities, is seeking to grow

environmentally safe and economically feasible species using saline groundwater for

irrigation. Recently MOEW, in collaboration with the International Center for

Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) and through a joint project with the International

Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is assessing the potential use of saline water

resources for agricultural production including date palm.

Another aspect of management of the available irrigation water is its rational use at

the farm level. This is being achieved through research work on crop water

requirements and its effect on crop yield and water-use efficiency. Other aspects

include the promotion of agricultural extension services, piloting of improved

agricultural practices, the transfer of modern irrigation technology to end-users for

economic benefits and the creation of farmers’ water awareness campaign.

Water resources development policies as well as policies on field research,

agriculture extension, human resources development, water laws and regulations are

all undertaken in order to promote sustainable utilization of groundwater.

Ground water in the UAE is governed and protected at both the national and local

levels. An authority in this regard by the name of General Water Resources

Authority was established under Federal Law No.21/1981.This Authority mainly

controls the activities of drilling companies and registers and classifies them. Federal

Low No.24/1999 for the protection and development (Chapter 2) is related to

protection of environment and ground water (Al-Assam and Sattar, 2005).

2.2.1. Water Resources

The two main water resources utilized for irrigation are surface water and

groundwater. They are characterized by fluctuations in quality and quantity as a

result of the unstable nature of rainfall and the unpredictability of floods. The

development of agricultural lands during the last 10 years has resulted in the

lowering of groundwater levels and the increase in irrigation water salinity in most

of the agricultural regions of UAE (Sattar, 2003). Extensive hydrological studies are

conducted through the collaboration with well known International agencies.

Comprehensive hydrological and metrological networks are built utilizing state of

the art technologies like remote sensing, G.I.S, telemetry and other advanced

technologies. Several hydro-geological studies were conducted recently that

included groundwater exploration and evaluation and groundwater flow modeling

for developing sustainable water resources management plans. Ground Water :

Groundwater is a very important source of irrigation water in the UAE. It plays an

important role in the socio-economic development of the country. Water for drinking

and industrial purposes was used from ground water extraction. Agricultural

development, especially in desertic regions of UAE, depends largely on this source.

The agricultural expansion that started at the beginning of the seventies continued

and ground water extraction resulted in the marked drop in the water levels.

Fluctuations in groundwater levels is monitored through more than 200 observation

wells that are distributed in the different regions of UAE. The general trend in the

region shows an annual decline in groundwater level in the different agricultural

areas ranging from 0.8 to 2.0 m per year.

On the other hand, during flood seasons there is a rise in groundwater levels ranging

from 1m to 25m depending on the water stored at the retention dams and the

distance of the observation wells from these dams. The aquifer is subject to

depletion due to over extraction of water by private sector drilling operations and

over-pumping by farmers who grow forages (Alfalfa and Rhodes grass) that require

high irrigation water supplies.

The annual recharge for groundwater is estimated between 120 Mm³ and 150 Mm3

while the current annual extraction far exceeds the annual average recharge.

Groundwater production for the year 2005 reached about 4000 Mm³ (MOEW,


                                            51 Surface Water:

Rainfall in the UAE is very scarce and fluctuates from one year to another and, as

such, floods differ in their magnitude in time and space. There are about 25 main

wadis in UAE that are located in the Northern, Eastern and Southern (Al-Ain)

regions of the UAE.

In order to utilize the runoff water during the floods seasons, more than 100

retention dams are built on the main wadis which help in the recharge of the

groundwater. The total capacity of these dams is about 115 Mm3. The total quantity

of water stored at 10 main MOEW retention dams, since their constructions to date,

is about 160 Mm3 (Table 9).

Table (9): Total quantity of water stored at the main MOEW dams (from construction to 30th April

             Name of Dam                                   Total (Mm³)

              Al-Ham                                         27.005
              Al-Beih                                        44.567
                Galfa                                         4.505
                Adhn                                          9.713
              Al-Ghail                                        0.206
               Hadaf                                          7.667
          Al-Raheeb (Zakat)                                  17.880
            Al-Tawaiyan                                      34.705
             Al-Wareiah                                       9.430
             Al-Basirah                                       3.450
             Grand Total                                     159.128

Source: Water & Soil Department, MOEW, UAE, 2005.

                                              52 Falajes and Springs:

Falajes water, being a renewable resource, and with its limited discharge, contributes

annually about 9 Mm³ to the total water use in the country. It is mainly used for

agricultural purposes. Due to the limitations of groundwater in terms of both its

quality and quantity, the UAE government has resorted to the unconventional water

resources mainly desalinated and sewage treated water. Desalination Water :

UAE is now one of the largest producers of desalinated water producing about 950

Mm3 in the year 2005. Desalinated water is mainly used for municipal and industrial

purposes. Production of desalinated water is expected to grow continuously in order

to meet the growing demand

(table 10).

                        Table (10): Water production in UAE (2005) (m³/Y)
              Water production in UAE (2005)           m3/year
              Groundwater                           4052054695
              Desalination                          950727008
              Treated wastewater                    319256995

Source: Water & Soils Dept., 2006.MOEW, UAE. Treated Sewage Water:

Tertiary treated sewage water production has increased gradually from 142 Mm3 in

1994 to 319 Mm3 in 2005 It is mostly used in landscape irrigation. The amount of

treated sewage water is also increasing due to the connection of the newly developed

urban areas.

The percentage of the total water production from the water sources is shown in


                      Fig. (28): Water production in UAE (2005) (%)

                       Water production in UAE (2005) (m3/Y)


                wastewater                            76%

        Source: Water & Soils Dept., 2006.MOEW, UAE.

2.2.2. Water Quality Management
The UAE has recently witnessed a deterioration of the irrigation water quality. An

assessment of this fact was carried out in the different agricultural regions, namely,

the Central Agricultural Region (CAR), the Eastern Agricultural Region (EAR), and

the Northern Agricultural Region (NAR) of the UAE. Table (11) shows the

electrical conductivity values of the irrigation water (ECw).

 Table (11): Irrigation Water Quality Assessments for the different Agricultural Region of UAE

                   ECw Range                   ECw Rage                       ECw Range
     Location                      Location                      Location
                     (dS/m)                     (dS/m)                          (dS/m)
    1. CAR                        2. EAR                      3. NAR

    - Kadrah       1.22 – 7.86    - Fujairah   1.55 – 1.99    - Shaam         5.62 – 10.25

    - Dhaid 1      0.20 – 37.70   - Kalba      4.68 – 14.13   - Digdaga       2.87 – 14.72

    - Dhaid 2      0.61 – 6.48    - Zbara      7.50 – 7.59    - Humraniyah    3.24 – 6.09

    - Falaj – al   0.93 – 15.37   - Bidya      0.41 – 2.17    - Khatt         3.62 – 9.39
    – Moualla

    - Melih        0.40 – 9.17    - Dibba      0.47 – 1.64    - Adhn         0.44 – 0.52
                                                              (Tawayain dam)

Source: Water & Soil Dept., MOEW, UAE, 2003.

Table (11) shows that EAR is the least affected by the irrigation water quality as this

area has relatively higher annual rainfall then the other regions. On the other hand,

NAR, where most of the agricultural activities are taking place, has shown higher

values of ECw reaching on the average to about 15 dS/m. MOEW is now

considering the use of saline water for agricultural production in the affected areas.

The concept of Biosaline Agriculture has been tested at ICBA and is being

introduced on demonstration farms in order to test its economical feasibility and

acceptance by the farmers. Large numbers of salt tolerant species are studied,

screened and tested at ICBA before being introduced at the farm level.

2.3. Irrigated Agriculture

2.3.1. Cropped Areas

The present development policy for agriculture in UAE seems to achieve 100% self-

sufficiency in dates and 80% in Vegetables. Cropping areas under vegetables, fruit

trees (including date palm), field crops and their production are shown in table (12).

            Table (12): Total Cropped Areas and Crop Production in the UAE (2002)

Crop / Trees                  Cropped Areas (Ha.)           Production (Tons)
Vegetables                           11158.6                       46702.0
Date Palm                           185329.5                       75760.1
Fruits                               2291.9                        3755.9
Field Crops                          43642.3                      430761.3

Source: The UAE Agricultural Information Center, Dubai, UAE, 2003.

Date palm is the dominant fruit tree grown in the UAE. The total number of date

palm trees reached 40.7 million in 2002. The total number of farms and the cropped

areas in the different agricultural regions of UAE are presented in table (13).

 Table (13): Number of farms and total cropped areas in the different agricultural regions of UAE

Agricultural Region        Number of           Total Area         Cropped Area
                            Farms                 (Ha.)               (Ha.)
Central (CAR)                 5955              21537.7              10915.7
Northern (NAR)                3362              12109.4              7462.8
Eastern (EAR)                 5999               8685.1              5394.3
Western (WAR)                22893              228609.3            218649.5

Source: UAE AGRICENT, Dubai, UAE, 2003.

The Central Agricultural Region (CAR) and the Western Agricultural Regions

(WAR) show the highest total area under agricultural production. On the other hand,

most of the cropped area is in (WAR) and it is dominated by date palm trees.

 2.3.2. Irrigation Systems

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE) water is a scare commodity as the country is

known for having high temperatures and low rainfall. It is, therefore, evident that

under these conditions irrigation water for date palm plantation is to be used

efficiently at the farm level. Farmers have to be informed through the extension

agents about the outcome of the applied research findings regarding the best ways of

optimizing the amount of irrigation water used by date palm throughout its growing


The UAE has adapted a modern approach to agriculture by using modern irrigation

techniques. Field studies carried out at the Humraniyah Agricultural Research

Station (HARS), located in NAR, showed that the use of the modern irrigation

systems (drip, bubbler and sprinkler) save about 80% of irrigation water at the field

level as compared to open earth furrows and of about 45% water saving on improved

lined or uncovered furrow systems. Labor saving of 70 to 80% could be expected

with the improved irrigation methods.

Date palm irrigation methods differ according to a number of aspects including the

source of water, its availability and quality, the type of soil and its topography,

climatic conditions, the labor force and the age of the date palm under cultivation.

The system of irrigation has developed considerably from what was used under the

old date palm cultivation to that which is now used under modern date palm

plantation. Traditional Method:

-Basin Irrigation

This system uses individual basins around the date palm tree. These basins are of

different shapes (circular, rectangular or square). Earthen bunds or barriers are made

around the basin in order to hold the applied irrigation water. The areas of the basin

could be as large as 4m². Usually a cemented water storage tank supplies the

irrigation water through earthen or lined canals. Several sub-main canals are

branched and with the help of individual earthen canals supply the required amount

to the individual date palm trees. The topography of the farm comes under

consideration when practicing this system of irrigation (Fig.29).

This method is mostly used in old farms growing matured date palm trees. The

irrigation efficiency is very low ranging from 40% -60%.

                                                                            Main canal

                                                                         Sub main

                                                                                         Date palm

                      Fig (29): Traditional basin method of irrigation Modern Irrigation Systems

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has introduced for the first time modern irrigation

systems during the FAO /MAF project (1975-1984). Bubbler, drip and sprinkler

systems of irrigation were first introduced at the research level. The Ministry of

Agriculture and Fisheries then, through its regional departments adopted these

modern systems based on the results of applied research work conducted at the

different research stations of the UAE. Results in some cases showed an increase of

30 – 40% in crop yield as compared to the traditional system of irrigation..

Accordingly in 1982, a specialized company was given the task of executing the

installation of the drip and bubbler systems of irrigation on an area of about 400

hectares which was spread all over the UAE regions. The Ministry also subsidized

50% of the total cost of the complete installation of the systems. The out come of

this project was so beneficial that the farmers started themselves installing the

irrigation systems and some times at their own expenses.

- Bubbler irrigation:

This method is largely used to irrigate fruit trees including date palms. It is available

with adjustable flow but farmers mostly use bubblers with a discharge of 360 l/hr.

(fig.30). This system is used for date palm trees 3 – 4 years old (off shoots) and is

continued even after maturity. There are some disadvantages that are associated with

bubbler system of irrigation. Farmers usually depend on unskilled labors to irrigate

their date palm fields. This usually leads to losses during irrigation as care is

required in applying the recommended amount of water. Labors tend to over- irrigate

as they prefer to irrigate more in a short time. The efficiency of bubbler irrigation is

about 80%.

                              Fig. (30): Bubbler irrigation

- Drip irrigation:

This system of irrigation is regarded as an advance in modern irrigation techniques

as it is localized and releases water slowly and with pre-calculated amount. This is

done through drippers that vary in their discharges from 4 l /hr to 8 l /hr to 24 l /hr.

(fig.31). There are online and also inline drip systems of irrigation that has been

introduced recently in UAE for irrigating forage crops and to some extent fruit trees.

Most recently a research is being conducted at Al–Humraniyah Agricultural

Research Station (HARS), in the Northern Agricultural Region of

Ras -Al- Khaimah Emirate of UAE, to evaluate the effect of modern irrigation

systems on date palm yield, vegetative and fruit characteristics (Sattar,et al.2005).

The advantages of using drip irrigation system can be summarized as:

-Only the part containing the roots at the 0 – 60 cm is wetted and hence water losses

is minimized,

-Irrigation is done at short intervals (depending on the type of soil) and leads to

reduction in the water tension at the soil surface,

-Keep the soil wet almost all the time,

-Help in reducing the wetted diameter for date palm trees with their reasonably large

distances between rows (8m) and between trees in the rows (8m).

-Orchard management practices for date palm are minimized because of the planting

distances of the localized drip irrigation system. This results in the reduction of the

total cost of production as compared to basin irrigation.

                               Fig. (31): Drip irrigation

Bubbler systems of irrigation with discharges of 360 l/hr are used for trees, notably,

date palm trees. Drip irrigation system of 4 l/hr is preferred in the growing of

vegetable crops. Sprinkler systems with varying discharges are used in fodder crops

and grasses production. These modern systems are provided to farms at 50% cost.

Data on Table (14) shows the cropped areas under the different irrigation systems.

                   Table (14): Cropped Areas Under Different Irrigation Systems

                                    Cropped Areas (Ha.)
               No. of
Location                              Irrigation Systems                     Area
                           Drip       Bubbler Sprinkler          Other
(2001)         1836       1363.30     2153.10        1411.90    741.90      5669.30

(2001)          286       178.10       639.30        163.50         0        980.90

(2002)          767       1509.24      908.00        1723.00    766.20      4906.64

Region         2413       3879.20      838.70        408.10     197.30      5323.30
Region          844       1225.10      198.40        176.00     1035.40     2634.90
Region         6717      13716.90      634.20        276.70     933.10     15560.90

  Source: Agriculture Statistics Handbook, MAF, UAE, 2003.

  Most of the cultivated areas are under bubbler irrigation (38% in CAR and 65% in

  EAR) followed by sprinkle and drip systems of irrigation. In NAR, however, most of

  the cropped areas are under sprinkler irrigation (35%) followed by drip irrigation

  system (31%). Areas like Digdaga and Khatt in NAR mostly use bubbler irrigation

  system for about 71% of the cropped areas mostly used for fruit trees including to a

  large extent date palms trees. About 80% of the total cropped area in the Western

  Region uses drip irrigation system.

This is mostly due to the large scale vegetables production under protected

agriculture. As irrigation water is mostly from groundwater, farmers use tube wells

for the cultivation of their crops (Table 15).

It is noticed from Table (15) that the number of farms using modern irrigation

systems for their agricultural production as compared to the total number of irrigated

area represents about 87%.

   Table (15): Total number of productive wells and the total areas under modern irrigation
                                     systems in the UAE.

              Data                         Year (2001)                Year(2002)

Number of Productive Wells                    71420                     77266
Areas Under Modern
                                            213530.0                   213975.8
Irrigation Systems (Ha.)
Number of Farms Using
                                              22961                     23122
Modern Irrigation Systems

Source: The UAE Agricultural Information Center, Dubai, UAE, 2003.

2.4. Date Palm Water Requirements

A number of authors have used empirical formulas to estimate water

requirements for the different periods of the year taking into consideration the

effect of a number of meteorological parameters such as temperature, humidity,

evaporation, wind speed and direction, sunshine hours, radiation as well as the

available soil water and the tree canopy (based on the age of the tree). The data

required for the calculation of the crop water requirements are made available

by the Ministry of Environment and Water in UAE through the meteorological

section of the department of water and soil.

The basic parameter for calculating the crop water requirements is to know the

Potential or Reference Crop Evapotranspiration (ETo).

2.4.1. Factors Affecting Water Requirements

There are a number of parameters that are taken into consideration when

calculating the amount of water that is required for growing the date palm.

Some of the important factors to be considered, apart from the crop ( age and

root development), soil texture and salinity, climatic condition (mostly

temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction) and the water availability in

terms of amount and quality. It is, however, evident that all these factors are

water-related and it is difficult to tackle each one separately. The timely

application of water and with a known quantity and a suitable system of

irrigation fulfills the three basic questions. (a)When to irrigate, (b) How much

to irrigate and (c) How to irrigate. The irrigation techniques were already

mentioned in pervious sections.

2.4.2. Methods for Estimating ETo

Numerous methods have been developed for obtaining ETo and then later to

calculate net or gross irrigation requirements of crops.

In this study ETo values were obtained using the following methods (equations):

(i) Modified Penman

(ii) Class A Pan Evaporattion

(iii) Hargreaves and Saimani

      (i)    Modified Penman Equation

The method uses mean daily climatic parameters. It is relatively complicated

as the equation depends on measured related climatic data where no direct

measurement of needed parameters are available. Tables found in FAO

Irrigation and Drain Paper 24 helped in the calculation of ETo. The form of

the equation is:

                  ETo = c [ W.Rn + (1-W) . f (u) . (ea-ed) ]
ETo = Reference or Potential Evaporation (mm/day).
W      = Temperature-related weighing factor.
Rn     = Net radiation in equivalent evaporation (mm/day).
f (u) = Wind-related function.
(ea-ed) = Difference between the saturation vapor pressure at mean
          air temperature and the mean actual vapor pressure of the
          air (both in mb) .
 c    = Adjustment factor to compensate for the effect of day and
        night weather conditions.

(ii) Class A Pan Evaporation

Almost every meteorological station in the region uses class A Pan to

record the daily evaporation (mm/day) . Evaporation data for about 13

years were noted and average values of the evaporation for each calendar

year was recorded. The equation used for obtaining ETo was as follow:

ETo = Ep * Kp
ETo = Reference or Potential Evapotranspiration (mm/day)
Kp = Pan co- efficient
Ep = Pan evaporation (mm/day)

(iii) Hargreaves and Saimani

The equation uses maximum and minimum air temperatures. The solar radiation

(mm/day) is found in FAO Paper 24. The ETo is obtained from the equation:

              ETo = 0.0023 RA (TD)½ (TC+17.8) (mm/day)


ETo   = Reference or Potential Evapotranspiration (mm/day)
RA    = Solar radiation (mm/day)
TD    = (Tºmax - Tºmin)
TC    = (Tºmax +Tºmin)/2

2.4.3. Reference Evapotranspration (ETo )

The three equations were used for calculating ETo values at the Northern

Agricultural Region of Ras-al-Khaimah Emirates. The climatic data was obtained

from the average values of 11 to 13 years data at the Humraniyah Agric. Res.Station


Table (16) shows the daily ETo values using the three different equations. The

values of ETo (mm/day) that was calculated by Class A Pan Evaporation method is

lower than the other two methods. This is reflected in the lower ETo values during

the peak periods as the ETo values are only calculated with one coefficient (Kp)

while the other two methods include more climatic data. The estimated total yearly

ETo calculated using the three equations are: 67.6, 65.7 and 68.4(mm) for the

Modified Penman, Class A Pan and Hargreaves and Saimani Equations respectively

(table 16).

Table (16): Estimated Reference Evapotranspiration (ETo)

                                ETo (mm/day)
 Month                           Class A
                 Penman                           and
                (mm/day)                        Saimani
   Jan.            2.3              2.8            2.8
   Feb.            3.0             3.58            3.6
  Mar.             4.2             4.82            4.4
  Apr.             6.8             6.37            6.5
  May.             8.2             7.74            8.1
   Jun.            8.6             7.37            8.2
  July.            8.7             7.40            8.6
  Aug.             8.3             6.85            7.0
   Sep.            6.9             6.50            6.5
   Oct.            5.0             5.40            5.5
  Nov.             3.3             3.91            3.9
   Dec.            2.3             2.98            3.3
                   67.6           65.72            68.4

2.4.4. Net Date Palm Water Requirements

Based on the values of ETo (mm/day), the net water requirement (ETc) was

calculated for a matured date palm tree taking into consideration the crop coefficient,

Kc, the calculated corrected ground cover, Kr, and the coefficient of soil water

storage, Ks. Table(17a and 17b) shows the values of Kc and Ks.

                            Table (17a): Kc values for Date Palm
                   Jan      Feb    Mar     Apr       May       June July      Aug    Sep    Oct    Nov    Dec

Matured Trees      0.7      0.73   0.8        0.9        0.9   0.9    0.9      0.9   0.85   0.75   0.73   0.7

Large matured
trees (70%) GC
                  0.75      0.75   0.7        0.7        0.7   0.65   0.65    0.65   0.65   0.7    0.7    0.7
Trees (50%) GC
Clean             0.65      0.65   0.6     0.55          0.5   0.5    0.55    0.55   0.55   0.55   0.6    0.6

Trees (20%) GC
Clean             0.55      0.55   0.5        0.5        0.5   0.45   0.45    0.45   0.45   0.45   0.5    0.5

                            Table (17b): Kc Values for Date Palm

      Soil Type                                Coefficient (Ks) (%)

Coarse sand, or light top
 soil with gravel sub-                   1.15                                87
         Sands                           1.1                                 91

          Silts                          1.05                                95

    Loam and Clays                        1                                  100

   2.4.5. Gross Irrigation Water requirements
   The gross irrigation water requirements (1Ng) was calculated for a matured date
   palm tree (7 years old) using Penman, Pan Evaporation and Hargreaves and saimani
   methods. The 1Ng values were for the trees under basin, bubbler and drip irrigation
   systems ( tables 18a , b and c ).
          Table (18a): Matured Date Palm Gross Irrigation Requirements* (Modified Penman)

                                                                                  Gross Application (mm/month)
                   ETo                                          Etc
Month                             Kc       Kr      Ks                            Basin          Bubbler          Drip
                                                                              Irrigation¹     Irrigation ²    Irrigation ³
         mm/day      mm/month                                                (mm/month)      (mm/month)      (mm/month)

 Jan.        2.3         70.90    0.70    0.85    0.91         38.44            59.14           48.05            42.7

 Feb.        3.0         82.83    0.73    0.85    0.91         47.32             72.8               59.2         52.6

Mar.         4.2         129.56   0.80    0.85    0.91          80.6             124            100.8            89.6

Apr.         6.8         203.15   0.90    0.85    0.91         141.4            217.5           176.8           157.1

May.         8.2         253.30   0.90    0.85    0.91         176.7            271.8          220.90           196.3

 Jun         8.6         257.43   0.90    0.85    0.91         178.8            275.1           223.5           198.7

 Jul.        8.7         269.50   0.90    0.85    0.91         186.9            287.5           233.4           207.7

Aug.         8.3         255.91   0.90    0.85    0.91         178.3            274.3           222.9           198.1

 Sep.        6.9         207.76   0.85    0.85    0.91         135.6            208.6           169.5           150.7

 Oct.        5.0         153.48   0.75    0.85    0.91         89.60            137.8           112.0            99.6

Nov.         3.3         97.58    0.73    0.85    0.91          55.5             85.4               69.4         61.7

 Dec         2.3         69.88    0.70    0.85    0.91          38.4             59.1               48.0         42.7

Total (mm)                                                                      2074            1685            1500

   ¹ irrigation eff. = 0.65       ² irrigation eff. = 0.80                ³ irrigation eff. = 0.9
   * 7 year old date palm
                   Table (18b): Matured Date Palm Gross Irrigation Requirements* (Class A Pan)

                                                                                    Gross Application (mm/month)
                    ETo                                           Etc
Month                                Kc      Kr      Ks                            Basin          Bubbler          Drip
                                                                                Irrigation¹     Irrigation ²    Irrigation ³
         mm/day        mm/month                                                (mm/month)      (mm/month)      (mm/month)

 Jan.        2.8          86.80     0.70    0.85    0.91         47.12            72.49           58.90           52.39

 Feb.      3.58           100.24    0.73    0.85    0.91         56.56            87.08           70.84           62.72

Mar.       4.82           149.42    0.80    0.85    0.91         92.38            142.00         115.63          102.61

Apr.       6.37           191.10    0.90    0.85    0.91         132.90           204.00         166.20          147.60

May.       7.74           239.94    0.90    0.85    0.91         167.10           257.06         208.94          185.69

 Jun       7.37           221.10    0.90    0.85    0.91         153.90           236.70         192.30          171.00

 Jul.      7.40           229.40    0.90    0.85    0.91         159.65           245.52         199.64          177.320

Aug.       6.85           212.35    0.90    0.85    0.91         147.87           220.20         184.76          164.30

 Sep.      6.50           195.00    0.85    0.85    0.91         128.10           197.10         160.20          142.20

 Oct.      5.40           167.40    0.75    0.85    0.91         97.03            149.42         121.21          107.88

Nov.       3.91           117.30    0.73    0.85    0.91         66.30            102.00          82.80           73.80

 Dec       2.98           92.38      0.7    0.85    0.91         49.91            76.88           62.31           55.49

Total (mm)                                                                       1990.47         1623.73         1443.0

   ¹ irrigation eff. = 0.65         ² irrigation eff. = 0.80                ³ irrigation eff. = 0.9

   * 7 year old date palm

   Table (18c): Matured Date Palm Gross Irrigation Requirements* (Hargreaves-Saimani Equation)

                                                                                  Gross Application (mm/month)
                   ETo                                          Etc
Month                             Kc       Kr      Ks                            Basin          Bubbler          Drip
                                                                              Irrigation¹     Irrigation ²    Irrigation ³
         mm/day      mm/month                                                (mm/month)      (mm/month)      (mm/month)

 Jan.        2.8          87      0.7     0.85    0.91         46.89            72.14               58.6         52.1

 Feb.        3.6         103      0.73    0.85    0.91         57.90             89.1               73.4         64.3

Mar.         4.4         136      0.80    0.85    0.91          83.8            128.9           104.8            93.1

Apr.         6.5         195      0.90    0.85    0.91         135.1            207.8           168.9           150.1

May.         8.1         252      0.90    0.85    0.91         174.6            268.6           217.5            194

 Jun         8.2         244      0.90    0.85    0.91         199.8            307.4           249.8            222

 Jul.        8.6         267      0.90    0.85    0.91         185.0            284.6           231.3           205.6

Aug.         7.0         217      0.90    0.85    0.91         150.4            231.4               188         167.1

 Sep.        6.5         194      0.85    0.85    0.91         126.97           195.3           158.7           141.1

 Oct.        5.5         170      0.75    0.85    0.91         98.18            151.0           122.7           109.1

Nov.         3.9         119      0.73    0.85    0.91         66.89            102.9               83.6         74.3

 Dec         3.3         102      0.70    0.85    0.91         54.97             84.6               68.7         61.1

Total (mm)                                                                      2123.7          1726           1533.9

   ¹ irrigation eff. = 0.65       ² irrigation eff. = 0.80                ³ irrigation eff. = 0.9

   * 7 year old date palm

According1y, using the values of ETc obtained under the three equations for ETo

estimation, the gross irrigation need (1Ng) of date palm was calculated under three

irrigation systems: basin, bubbler and drip ( tables 18 a, b &c ). A summary of the

1Ng values are given in tables (19 a, b & c). It is noticed that 1Ng values are always

high under basin irrigation, followed by bubbler and drip irrigation systems.

Considering 1Ng Values under modified Penman Equation, there is an increase of

about 19% in 1Ng when using basin irrigation compared to drip irrigation system.

                Table (19a): Matured Date Palm Gross Water Requirements*.
                              (Under Basin Irrigation System)

                                           Gross Application (mm/month)
                   Month              Modified                    Hargreaves
                                                  Class A Pan
                                      Penman                     and Saimani
                    Jan.                 59            73             72
                    Feb.                 73            87             89
                   Mar.                 124           142            129
                   Apr.                 218           204            208
                   May.                 272           257            269
                    Jun.                275           237            307
                   July.                288           246            285
                   Aug.                 274           220            231
                    Sep.                209           197            195
                    Oct.                138           149            151
                   Nov.                  85           102            103
                    Dec.                 59            77             85
                                       2074          1991           2124

            * 7 years old date palm

  Table (19b): Matured Date Palm Gross Water Requirements*.
               (Under Bubbler Irrigation System)

                       Gross Application (mm/ month)
      Month        Modified                    Hargreaves
                              Class A Pan
                   Penman                     and Saimani
       Jan.           48            59             59
       Feb.           59            71             73
       Mar.          101           116            105
       Apr.          177           166            169
       May.          221           209            218
       Jun.          224           192            250
       July.         233           200            231
       Aug.          223           185            188
       Sep.          170           160            159
       Oct.          112           121            123
       Nov.           69            83             83
       Dec.           48            62             68
                       1685          1624           1726
* 7 years old date palm

   Table (19c): Matured Date Palm Gross Water Requirements
                  (Under Drip Irrigation System)

                          Gross Application (mm/ month)
      Month         Modified                    Hargreaves
                                 Class A Pan
                    Penman                     and Saimani
       Jan.            43             52            52
       Feb.            53             63            64
      Mar.             90            103            93
      Apr.            157            148           150
      May.            196            186           194
       Jun.           199            171           222
      July.           208            177           206
      Aug.            198            164           167
       Sep.           151            142           141
       Oct.           100            108           109
      Nov.             62             74            74
       Dec.            43             55            61
                      1500           1443          1533
* 7 years old date palm

Date palm water requirements for the different ages of the date palm tree (1-7years

old ) under sandy loam soils and drip system of irrigation is referred to in Table(20).

                   Table (20): Estimated Date Palm Water Requirements*

                                    Age of Tree (Years)
             1          2         3          4        5       6           7

  JAN       0.45       0.65      0.95      1.75      2.45    2.95        3.20

  FEB       0.55       0.86      1.35      1.95      2.50    2.70        3.30

 MAR        0.90       1.10      1.85      2.65      3.25    3.75        4.80

  APR       1.20       1.44      2.10      3.25      4.80    5.65        6.20

 MAY        1.50       2.25      2.85      4.15      6.10    7.25        8.50

 JUNE       1.65       2.98      3.70      5.10      7.80    9.40        10.90

 JULY       2.75       3.31      3.95      6.75      8.90   10.40        12.90

 AUG        2.45       2.74      3.75      5.95      8.30   10.00        11.10

  SEP        2.0       2.52      3.50      5.15      6.80    8.15        8.75

 OCT         1.5       1.80      2.55      3.40      4.70    6.05        7.10

 NOV         1.2       1.44      2.20      2.65      3.60    3.95        4.55

 DEC        0.55       0.78      1.30      2.10      2.85    3.20        3.95
 Total      16.7       20.8     30.05      44.85    62.05   73.45        85.25

   * - Soil: Sandy loam
     - Planting distance 7m X 7m (200palms/ha)
     - Bubbler system of irrigation
     - 7 years old date palm
     - Tissue culture-based

2.4.6. Farmer's Recommended (1Ng)

For the farmer's use, the whole year was divided into three periods:

( Dec to Feb, March to May, June to Sept, and Oct-Nov). The daily water

requirement is shown in tables (21a & 21b).

   Table (21a): Recommended Farmer's Date Palm Irrigation Requirements
       Soil type: Sandy loam
       Planting distance = 7m X 7m (200 palms/ha)
       Date palm propagation = Tissue-culture based
       Irrigation System = Bubbler
  Age of tree                                                              Yearly
                  Dec-Jan-     Mar-Apr-        Jun-July-
                                                              Oct-Nov      Total
                    Feb         May            Aug-Sep
1st Year:
m³/tree/period       2.70          4.05          7.20           2.88        16.83
l/tree/day            30            45            60             48

2nd Year:
m³/tree/period       4.05          5.22          8.40           3.12        20.79
l/tree/day            45            58            70             52

3rd Year:
m³/tree/period       5.40          7.65          13.2            4.5        30.75
l/tree/day            60           85            110             75
4th Year:
m³/tree/period       8.10         11.25          18.00          6.90        44.25
l/tree/day            90           125            150           115

5th Year:
m³/tree/period       10.8         16.20          26.40          9.30        62.7
l/tree/day           120           180            220           155

6th Year:
m³/tree/period      12.60         18.90          31.2           10.8        73.8
l/tree/day           140           210           260            180

7th Year:
m³/tree/period      13.95         22.50          37.20          12.00       85.65
l/tree/day           155           250            310            200

Table (21b): Recommended Farmer's Date Palm Irrigation Requirements

     Soil type: Coarse Sand or light
                 top soil with gravelly sub surface
     Planting distance = 7m X 7m (200 palms/ha)
     Date palm propagation = Tissue-culture based
     Irrigation System = Bubbler

  Age of tree                                                          Yearly
                 Dec-Jan-     Mar-Apr-       Jun-July-
                                                         Oct-Nov       Total
                   Feb         May           Aug-Sep
1st Year:
m³/tree/period      3.10         4.66          8.28        3.31         19.35
l/tree/day           35           52            69          55

2nd Year:
m³/tree/period      4.66         6.00          9.66        3.59         23.91
l/tree/day           52           67           80.5        59.7

3rd Year:
m³/tree/period      6.21         8.79          15.17       5.17         35.34
l/tree/day           67          97.7           126         86

4th Year:
m³/tree/period      9.31        12.93          20.69       7.93         50.86
l/tree/day          103          144            172        132

5th Year:
m³/tree/period      12.4         18.6          30.3        10.7         72.0
l/tree/day          138          207           253         178

6th Year:
m³/tree/period      14.5         21.7          35.9        12.4         84.5
l/tree/day          161           24           299         207

7th Year:
m³/tree/period      16.0         25.9          42.8        13.8         98.5
l/tree/day          178          287           356         230

2.5. Irrigation Scheduling for Date Palm

2.5.1. Introduction:

Date palm orchards could be irrigated every day or every few days depending on

different factors: type of soil ,evaporation ,irrigation system ,age of the tree ,depth

of root-system , depth of water applied ….etc. However, the main parameter is the

available moisture which can be stored in the given soil.

Under basin irrigation system usually polyethylene hoses are used .This practice is

gradually changing to the use bubbler system of irrigation were basins are made for

each tree.

Bubbler system can be operated on daily bases using one bubbler per tree (360l/hr)or

two bubblers depending on the age of the date palm tree and the size of the basin.

Any bubbler system of irrigation should be designed in order to achieve uniformity

of water application .

A young date palm (offshoot or tissue culture –based plant) requires frequent

application of water but in small quantities, as the expected evapotranspiration from

the plant is low. It is, however, understood that not only it is difficult to determine

accurately the irrigation schedule but it is also time consuming. It also involves

complicated steps to calculate it .Farmers sometimes depend on the observation of

the changes that take place in /on the plant as a whole with respect to color of the

plant of curling of the leaves. It is difficult, however, to notice these changes in date

palm trees in order to avoid water stress and provide the required amount of

irrigation water at the required time especially during the initial and crop

development stages.

2.5.2. Simple Calculation Method:

In order not to confuse the farmer, the study used the simple calculation method to

determine the irrigation schedule for date palm .The different steps involved in such

a method is outlined in detail .A summarized table for matured date palm irrigation

scheduling under both basin and bubbler systems of irrigation is reported in tables

(22a & 22b).

                      Table (22a): Irrigation Schedule for Matured Date palm
                                      (Under Basin Irrigation)
                JAN   FEB   MAR    APR   MAY    JUN   JULY    AUG   SEP    OCT     NOV   DEC

1Ng             51    67    127    197    283   304    339    327    229   140     92    59    2215
d net           200   200   200    200    300   360    360    360    300   200     200   200   2400
Interval(1NT)    9     9     9      9      6     5      5      5      6        9    9     9

 1Ng = Gross Irrigation Need
 (1NT) = Interval

                      Table (22b): Irrigation schedule for Matured Date palm
                                (Under Bubbler Irrigation System)
                JAN   FEB   MAR    APR   MAY    JUN   JULY    AUG   SEP    OCT     NOV   DEC

1Ng             42    55    103    160    230   247    275    265    186   114     75    48    1800
d net           150   150   150    257    257   257    300    300    257   150     150   150   2528
Interval(1NT)   12    12     12     7      7     7      6      6      7    12      12    12

 1Ng = Gross Irrigation Need
 (1NT) = Interval

 The gross irrigation requirements for a matured date palm is 22150 m³/year/ha.and

 18000 m³/year/ha.under basin and bubbler systems of irrigation respectively. One

 hectare of date palm plantation covers 200 palms. Date palm grown under basin

 irrigation could be irrigated every 9days interval during the periods (Oct-April)

 while during the hot summer periods (May-September) every 5 or 6 days interval.

 In case of date palm grown under bubbler irrigation method, the irrigation interval is

 mush wider: 12 days during the cooler periods (Oct-April) and about 6 to 7 days

 during the hotter periods (May-Sept).

It is worth mentioning, however, that to add the required amount of irrigation water

at the beginning of each interval may not be possible to cover the whole period. The

farmer divides the amount of applied water at a smaller intervals but he adheres to

the gross irrigation need of the date palm. Steps for Determining Irrigation Scheduling

An example is taken for matured date palm (7 years old) that is grown under bubbler

irrigation as is found in many newly developed farms. Steps (A, B & C) are out lined

and a summary for the final date palm irrigation schedule is tabulated.

Step (A):

d net = 60mm
Total No. of Irrigation applications = 1800/60 = 30
Total growing period = 360days
Interval (application) = 360/30 = 12days
Adjustment for the peak period,
amount of water applied/month = (30/12) * 60 = 150mm

             JAN   FEB   MAR   APR   MAY   JUN      JULY   AUG    SEP   OCT   NOV   DEC

1Ng          42    55    103   160   230      247   275    265    186   114   75    48    1800
d net
             150   150   150   150   150      150   150    150    150   150   150   150   18000
1Ng-dnet     108   95    47    -10   -80      -97   -125   -115   -36   36    75    102    0

1 NT         12    12    12                                             12    12    12

Step (B):

Total No. of Irrigation applications = 1363/60 = 23
Total growing period = 180 days
Interval (application) = 180/23 = 7days
Water applied = (30/7) *60 = 257mm(adjustable to peak periods )
               APR        MAY        JUN       JULY            AUG    SEP
               160         230          247        275         265    186    1363
d net
               257         257          257        257         257    257    1542
                97            27         10        -18           -8   17      179
1 NT.
                7             7          7                             7

Step (C):
Total No. of Irrigation applications = 540/60 = 9
Total growing period = 60 days
Interval (application) = 60/9 = 6days
Water applied = (30/6 )*60 = 300mm

                                   JULY       AUG

                                   275        265        540
                    d net
                                   300        300        600
                                    25        35          60

                      1 NT.
                                    6          6


Oct-Nov-Dec-Jan-Feb-Mar:              Apr-May-Jun-Sep:              July-Aug:
d net = 60mm                         d net = 60mm                   d net = 60mm
d gross = 75mm                       d gross = 75mm                 d gross = 75mm
Interval = 12days                    Interval = 7days               Interval = 6days

Final Irrigation Schedule:

             JAN   FEB   MAR   APR   MAY   JUN   JULY   AUG   SEP    OCT    NOV   DEC

1Ng          42    55    103   160   230   247   275    265   186     114   75    48    1800
d net        150   150   150   257   257   257   300    300   257     150   150   150
1Ng-dnet     12    12    12     7     7     7     6      6     7      12    12    12

2.6. Water Allocation
There is no clear government policy on the allocation of water for irrigation

purposes at the farm level .The pumped ground water is subject to the farmer's need

of water to irrigate the crop that he plans to grow. Underground water is a national

wealth and most farmers use this source of water to grow their crops .No metering

system and water pricing at the farm level is enforced by the government as yet,

although, given the present water scarcity in agriculture, such a policy, along with

the application of crop water requirements, would help in decreasing the ground

water extraction for crop production.

An attempt was made by the author to estimate the cost of 1m³ of pumped ground -

water (table 24). The fixed and variable costs were obtained from the drilling

companies working in the Northern Agricultural Region of Ras-Al-Khaimah

Emirate. It may differ for other regions and hence should not be generalized.

2.6.1. Cost of Irrigation Water

Date palm trees depend on water for their successful growth regardless of the source

of irrigation water (surface, ground water, aflaj ….etc) .

However,most of the date palm orchards depend on ground water .Since water is a

gift of nature many farmers think of it as something that belongs to them and that

they have the right of using the ground water at their will. Unfortunately, water at

the farm level is not metered which has led to over pumping and par-consequence to

the gradual and systematic depletion of the ground water .This alarming situation

has given rise to the different institutions dealing with the water sector to formulate

water management policies and legislations in order to preserve ground water for the

future generations . An attempt is made by the author, and with the help of some

survey of the farms, and based on the format that was proposed by the World Bank

on the cost of ground water, to arrive at the cost of one cubic meter of water that is

pumped for irrigation at the farmers' field. The fixed cost and the variable cost of

pumping is shown on table (24).The total cost of pumping 1(m³) of water is about

0.30 (DH) when subsidized by the State and about 0.34 (HD) when un-subsidized.

                                   Table (24): Cost of pumped ground water

                 Item                                Description                  Total    Total

                                     A: Fixed Cost
      (1)                            Well depth (m)                                 250
      (2)                            Cost of drilling per meter(DH)                 130
      (3) = (1)*(2)                  Cost of drilling (DH)                        23500
      (4)                            Cost of casing per meter (DH)                  120
      (5) = (1)*(4)                  Cost of casing (DH)                          30000
      (6) = (3)*(5)                  Cost of drilling and casing (DH)             62500
      (7)                            Use life (years)                                10
      (8)                            Hours of use per year (Hours)                 3000
      (9)                            Interest rate (%year)                         0.08
      (10)                           Salvage value @ 0% (DH)                       0.00
      (11) = (6)-(10)                Initial capital cost                         62500
      (12) = (11)/ (7)*(8)           Depreciation of well and casing (DH/Hr)       2.08
      (13) = 0.5*(6)*(9)/(8)         Capital cost of well and casing (DH/Hr)       0.83
      (14)                           Cost of submerged pump set                   15000
      (15)                           Salvage value                                    0
      (16)= (14)-(15)                Initial capital cost (DH)                    15000
      (17) = (16)/ (7)*(8)           Depreciation of submerged pump set (DH/Hr)    0.50
      (18) = 0.5 *(14)*(9)/(8)       Capital cost of submerged pump set (DH/Hr)    0.20
      (19) = (12)+(13)+(17)+(18)     Sub-total of all fixed cost (DH/Hr)           3.61
                                     B: Variable Cost
      (20)                           Electricity consumption (Kw/Hr)                12¹
      (21)                           Electricity price (DH/Kw)                    0.075²   0.15³
      (22) = (20) * (21)             Cost of electricity (DH/Kw)                   0.90    1.80
      (23)                           Maintenance (DH/Kw)                           1.50    1.50
      (24) = (22)+(23)               Sub-total of all variable cost (DH/Hr)        2.40    3.30
                                     C: Total cost per Hour
      (25) = (19)+(24)               Grand Total Cost (DH)                         6.01     6.81
                                     D: Total cost per (M³)
      (26)                           Capacity of the well (m³/Hr)                   20       20
      (27) = (25)/(26)               Cost of 1(m³) (DH)                            0.30     0.34

¹ Average electricity consumption per month is 3000 Kw
  with an average 250 hours of pumping per month.
² Subsidized
³ Non-subsidized

Table (24) is based on the data collected from Farmers and drilling companies working in

the Northern Agricultural Region of Ras-al-Khaimah Emirate and hence should not be

generalized for the other Emirates of UAE. It is also essential to indicate that the cost of

ground water extraction using tube wells assumes that the electricity consumption is about

3000 (Kw/month). With a pumping rate of about 10hrs/day, and in a period of 25 days a

month, would result in a 250 hrs of pumping per month (3000 hours per year).

This means that the electricity consumption per hour is 12 Kw.

Considering that the matured date palm on the average requires about 19900 m³/ha (under

the traditional basin irrigation) and 16240 m³/ha (under bubbler irrigation) and 14430

m³/ha (under drip irrigation) (table18b), it is then estimated that the cost of 1 m³ of pumped

water at the subsidized rate of DH 0.30, would annually be (DH 5940), (DH 4869) and

(DH4020) under basin, bubbler and drip irrigation systems respectively.

2.7. Government Institutions Dealing in Water Sector

2.7.1. Institutions Dealing with Water and Electricity

The Ministry of Energy deals with Petroleum and Electricity and Water Sectors.

However, the Ministry of Electricity and Water is the institution that deals generally

with the non-conventional water resources in the UAE (desalination, treated sewage

water).The Ministry is regarded as the source of central informations coming from

the different electricity and water authorities functioning in the different Emirates of

the UAE .These authorities are:-

       Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA) and Dubai

          Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA)

       Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (SEWA)

       Federal Electricity and Water Authority (FEWA) which has under its

          umbrella the following Emirates:

             - Ras – al –khaimah

             - Ajman

             - Fujairah

             - Umm al –Quaiyan

2.7.2. Institutions in charge of Irrigation Water Management

    The Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW) which is based in

    Dubai has two main departments that deal with the water sector:

                 1. Department of Water Resources and Dams

                 2. Department of Irrigation and Soils

     1. Department of Water Resources and Dams consists of two Sections:

               Water Resources Section.

               Dams Section.

     2. Department of Irrigation and Soils includes:

             Irrigation and Soils Section.

             Agro-meteorology Section.

2.7.3. Federal Environment Authority

    It deals with all aspects of water pollution whether it is as an outcome of

    agricultural, industrial or domestic activities.

2.7.4. Regional Municipalities

They are in charge of all water aspects dealing with landscaping, parks, and

desalination plants that are using ground water as a water source. They supervise

all the activities related to the desalinated water.

2.8. Extension Services

Agriculture development starts at the research stations and achieves its primary goal

when their findings reach the farm and the farmers.

Agriculture research stations conduct trials and studies related to the farmer's field

problems. The results and findings of the applied research studies require a system to

transfer these findings to the farmers. Such a service is provided by the extension

centers that form a link between the institutions dealing with research and the end

users (the farmers). The different methods used for the transfer of results to the

farmers have been largely developed by the UAE government. It can be through

audio visual aids, technical bulletins, in-service training, lectures, news papers and

field visits to pilot farms. The transfer of knowledge and on-farm technologies help

in providing feed back from the farmers through the agricultural extension agents to

the researchers. It becomes, therefore, of vital importance to formulate research

policies that will help in developing and solving field-related problems and, at the

same time, strengthening the co-operation between the research institutions, the

extension agents and the end users, (the farming community).

2.8.1. Extension Centers

The Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW), which is the most important

contributor to the development of agriculture in the UAE, established a number of

extension centers all over the region of the UAE. These extension centers come

under the supervision of the Departments of Agriculture in the different regions.
Field related problems like water management advises, soil and water analysis, pest

and diseases identification and their proposed control measures, field survey and

irrigation net work layout are all executed through the extension centers.

The numbers and locations of the agricultural extension centers in the different

regions of the UAE are indicated in Table (25).

                 Table (25): Extension Centers of the different region of UAE

                      Agriculture            Extension          Location of the
                        Region                Center                center
                                                Liwa                 Liwa
    Abu-Dhabi            Western
                                               Ghayathi             Ghayathi
                                                Dhaid                Dhaid
                                                Kadra                Kadra
                                               Masfoot              Masfoot
     Sharjah               Central             Munaiee              Munaiee
                                                Maliha               Maliha
                                            Falj-al-Mualla       Falj-al-Mualla
                                               Al-Aweer            Al-Aweer
                                            Al-Humraniyah       Al-Humraniyah
                                                 Khatt                Khatt
                                                 Adhn                 Adhn
 Ras-al-Khaimah            Northern
                                               Digdaga              Digdaga
                                               Shammal             Shammal
                                                Sha'am               Sha'am
                                                Masafi               Masafi
                                                 Diba                 Diba
                                                Dhadna              Dhadna
     Fujairah              Eastern            Khorfakan            Khorfakan
                                                Marbah            Al-Fujairah
                                             Al-Fujairah          Al-Fujairah
                                                 Kalba               Kalba
Source: Ministry of Environment and Water, Department of Research and Extension, UAE, 2006

2.8.2. Qualifications of the Extension Agents

There are no standards yet which specify the qualifications of an extension agent.

Based on the science of agricultural extension and the responsibilities entrusted to

the extension agent, he should be at least a graduate of an agricultural secondary

school with a training period of at least one complete season of a crop in order to

acquaint himself with the cultural practices of crop production from the beginning of

its plantation to harvesting.

A field survey regarding the academic qualifications of the extension agents working

at the different Departments of Agriculture that are affiliated to MOEW showed that

about 50% of the extension agents are graduates (Table26).

  Table (26): Qualifications of the extension agents with regard to the Regional Departments of
                                   Agriculture (MOEW, UAE).

               No. of               Graduates                    Agriculture
             extension                                Diploma    Secondary        Total
  Region                     Ph.D.         B,Sc,
              centers                                               level
  Western         2             2            2           -            -             4
  Central         7             -           11           -            5            16
 Northern         6             -            3          10            -            13
  Eastern         7             -            6           4            -            10
   Total         22             2           22          14            5            43

 Source: Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW), Dept. of Research and Extension, UAE,

2.9. Constraints

An attempt is made to high light some of the important constraints that are
associated with the irrigation of date palm.

2.9.1. Water Resources Management
      - Monitoring of well drilling and over exploitation of the groundwater by
          farmers is weak.
      - Absence of a National Water Training Centre to provide SMS.
      -   Water allocation policy not clear at the farm level.
      - Farmer's involvement and participation in the water-related policies is

2.9.2. Agricultural Extension Systems

      - Weak linkage between agricultural extension services and the various
          research stations.
      - Insufficient number of extension staff in relation to farms .The ratio of the
          extension agent to farmers is very low.
      - Insufficient number of SMSs in relation to the extension staff.
      - Pre-and in-service training for the extension staff is unsatisfactory and the
          technical training by the SMSѕ is inadequate.
      - Most of the training programmers concentrate on theoretical rather than on
          the applied field training.
      - Training needs are not well identified and most of the training courses
          offered are short in duration and some times do not reflect the actual
      - Periodic monitoring and evaluation of the extension system is weak.

2.9.3. Agricultural Research Systems

     - Usually researchers undertake scientific research work which does not
        generally relate to the farmer's problems.
     - The feed back system is weak from the field to the research institutions.
     - Collaboration and co-ordination between the various research institutions
        is somewhat weak and needs to be addressed.
     - Collaboration with the regional and international research institutions is
     - Applied research work on date palm irrigation is limited.
     - Studies on both fertilizer-use efficiency (f.u.e.) and water use efficiency
        (w.u.e.) on date palm are very limited or unavailable.

      III. Conclusions and Recommendations:

3.1 Conclusions:

   The pressure on water resources, in particular groundwater resources, has been

   intense and somewhat alarming. Agricultural activities seem to consume 70-

   80% of the ground water resource. Groundwater aquifer is exploited at a rate

   greater than their sustainable yields. At the farm level, over pumping has

   resulted in both the reduction in the available water and the deterioration of

   groundwater quality. The concept of "When", "How much" and "How" to

   irrigate is not properly applied at the farm level. Date palm cultivation and dates

   production under groundwater irrigation has become a priority in the agriculture

   sector although there is limited research work on date palm irrigation. Date palm

   orchard management practices has been widely covered by researchers at

   MOEW. Farmers use less efficient systems of irrigation in their old farms

   (basin, flooding). On the newly established date farms bubblers and open

   polyethylene hoses are used. However, in most cases, due to poor supervision

   and insufficient knowledge on the water requirements and irrigation scheduling,

   excess water is applied which results in water and nutrients losses. Date palm

   gross irrigation requirements under basin, bubbler and drip systems of irrigation

   were 20740, 16850 and 15000 m³/ha. respectively. Daily water requirement for

   a matured date palm is between 260-300 l/day during the peak periods in

   summer ( June – September ), 180-200 l/day during ( October – November ) and

   between 140-155 l/day during winter period (December-February). Date palm

irrigation scheduling is found to be 9-12 days interval during the winter period

and between 5-6 days interval during the summer period.

Drip irrigation system is preferred as a modern method of irrigation for date

palm trees, but because of its concept of wetting only the top soil layer, farmers

sometimes show their unwillingness for its use on their farms. Farmers'

awareness programmes and active extension work by the agricultural extension

agents would greatly help in this regard.

Estimated date palm water requirements at different ages of the tree and at

different soil conditions as well as irrigation methods, as referred to in this

study, would help as a guideline for date palm irrigation.

3.2. Recommendations:

3.2.1. Water Resources Management:

    o Groundwater :

       - Improved and centralization of groundwater data collection, analysis

          and monitoring, as well as the strengthening of the enforcement of

          groundwater legislation and regulations is to be stressed. Emphasis is to

          be given to the problems related to over exploitation and pollution of

          the aquifers.

       - Establishment of a comprehensive water data bank at (MOEW) that

          could become a terminal in a regional data bank set up.

       - Planting of uneconomic crops with high water requirements is to be


    o Surface Water :

       - Since the surface water resources are limited, surface and subsurface

          storage is to be optimized and surface evaporation is to be minimized

          and surface water supplies to be protected from pollution.

    o Waste Water :

       - National standards for treated waste water is to be set-up that would

          play an important role as an additional water supply to be used in

          agricultural activities and other non-domestic purposes but at the same

          time environmental issues and contamination of groundwater aquifers

          are to be closely monitored.

    o Brackish Water :

       - Besides waste water re-use, brackish water after desalination could be

          considered as another source of non-conventional water resource.

3.2.2. On Farm Water Management:

    - Use of irrigation systems in co-operation with the research and extension

       service of MOEW. Drip irrigation is favored over less efficient methods

       for date palm irrigation.

    - Metering of irrigation water at the farm turn-out to allow for the

       measurement of the Volume of water used at each farm unit .as irrigation

       water is a national economic commodity. Pricing on applied irrigation

       water will differ according to its quality.

    - Crop water requirements, and in particular for data palm, has to be

       determined for the various regions taking into consideration the prevailing

       soil-water- climatic conditions.

    - Training of farmers on the use of modern water management techniques

       including fertigation and the automation of on –farm irrigation network.

    - Farmer's involvement in the preparation and participation in the policies

       related to the rational and economic use of irrigation water at the field


    - Private sector participation.

3.2.3. Research and Extension: Research:

  - Applied research work on rational and economic al use of water

     (irrigation technologies, crop water requirement, data palm orchard

     management practices).

   - Use of the different non-conventional water resource for irrigated

    agriculture (treated waste water, brackish water…)

  - Piloting of improved water-related agricultural practices on the farmers fields.

  - Co-operation with specialized national, regional and international centers

     dealing with date palm cultivation and dates production.

  - More research work on increasing both f.u.e and w.u.e for date palm. Extension:

  - Public awareness programs in the water as a means of informing and

     educating the farmers and the other water users of about the seriousness of the

     conservation and protection of the limited water resources.

  - Training of extension agents at the national, regional or international level as


  - More laison between extension agents and farmers.

  - Distribution of more qualified extension agents to the different agricultural

     region of UAE

3.2.4. Capacity Building :

       Human Resource development in the water sector is to be emphasized

       through continuous education, in service training, career development, and

       short and long term training .A national water training center would be of

       great help in providing skilled technicians and subject matter specialist

       (SMS) thus ensuring sound implementation of the national water sector


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          Annex (1)

Major Pests of Date Palm in the
    United Arab Emirates

        (Figs. 12 – 24)
Fig (12a): Adult Red Palm Weevi (RPW)                 Fig (12b): (RPW) larva

Fig (13): Damaged caused to main trunk by (RPW)        Fig (14): Phermone and kairomone traps

Fig (15): The lesser Date Moth          Fig(16): Fruit damage by larvae of the lesser Date Moth
                      Fig (17): Adult Longhorn Stem Borer

Fig (18): Rhinoceros Beetle                 Fig (19): Light trap

                              Fig (20): Dubas Insect
Fig (21): Inflorescence Rot or Khamedj Disease damage

           -False Bayoud

            Fig (22): Graphiola Leaf spot

           Fig (23): False Bayoud Disease
Fig (24): Black Scorch damage
             Annex (2)

Important Date Palm Varieties of UAE

              (table 3)
Annex (2):
                                        Table (3) Important Date Palm Varieties of UAE

                               Flowering                            Average yield       Date
  Variety      Location                          Ripening stage                                           Remarks
                                 period                               (kg/tree)      Consumption
             RAK                                                                                      - Leaves are britle
             Dubai          Nov./Dec.           Early             50 - 80           Tamr              - Trunk of
             Sharjah                                                                                  medium thickness
                                                                                                      - Lots of leaves
  Abu                                                                                                 - Good for land-
             RAK            Nov./Dec.           Early             35 - 60           Rutub and Tamr
  Keebal                                                                                              scaping along the
                                                                                                      road side
                                                                                                      - Commercial
  Anwan      Fujaira        Medium              Medium            60 – 100          Rutub and Tamr
                                                                                                      - short tree
                                                                                                      - fast growing
             All Emirates                                                                             - Commercial
             Except coastal                                                         Bisr, Rutub and   variety
  Barhi                     Medium to late      Medium to late    80 – 120
             areas where                                                            Tamr
             RH is high
             All Emirates                                                                             - Commercial
  Bu         But mostly in                                                          Tamr and then     variety
                            Mid – season        Mid – season      40 – 60
  Maan       Abu Dhabi &                                                            Rutub
                             Flowering     Ripening       Average yield       Date
Variety     Location                                                                           Remarks
                               period        stage          (kg/tree)      Consumption
          All Emirates                                                                     - Limited
          Especially                                                                       cultivation
Basri     Abu Dhabi       Mid – season   Mid – season   50 – 60           Rutub and Tamr
          Bedh Zayed)
          All Emirates                                                                     - Widely
          Especially                                                                       cultivated
Jabri     Abu Dhabi       Late           Late           40 – 60           Rutub and Tamr   - Commercial
          Fujairah                                                                         variety
          In little                                                                        - Could be used
          quantities in                                                                    commercially
          RAK             Mid – season   Mid – season   40 – 60           Tamr
          RAK                                                                              - Limited
Gash      Um al-Quayn                                                     Rutub and then   cultivation
                          Mid – season   Mid – season   40 – 60
jaffer    Fujairah                                                        Tamr             - Land scaping:
          Sharjah                                                                          roads and Parks
                                                                Average yield      Date
Variety      Location        Flowering period Ripening stage                                      Remarks
                                                                  (kg/tree)     Consumption
Gash      All the Northern                                                                    - Commercial
                               Mid – season    Medium to late      50 – 70         Tamr
Rabee         Emirates                                                                        variety
          All the Northern                                                                    - Moderately
              Emirates                                                                        cultirated
           especially in       Mid – season    Mid – season        50 – 70         Tamr
          Fujairah, RAK
             & Sharjah
          All the Northern                                                                    - Moderately
              Emirates                                                                        cultivated
           especially in       Mid – season    Mid – season        50 – 70         Tamr
              RAK and
                                                                                              - Widely
 Gash      25% of RAK                                                                         cultivated
                                   Late            Late            40 – 60         Tamr
Habash    date plantation                                                                     - Commercial
                              Flowering                        Average yield         Date
Variety      Location                        Ripening stage                                              Remarks
                                period                           (kg/tree)        Consumption
          All the Emirates                                                                         - Moderately
          but in particular                                                                        cultivated
Hatimi     in Abu Dhabi.      Mid – season    Mid – season         50 – 70            Tamr
            Sharjah and
             Abu Dhabi                                                                             - Limited cultivation
            Emirates (in
Hamri                         Mid – season    Mid – season         50 – 60        Rutub and Tamr
          Liwa and Bedh
          All the Emirates                                                                         - Widely cultivated
Khalaas                       Mid – season    Mid – season         30 – 60        Rutub and Tamr
               of UAE                                                                              - Commercial variety
          All the Emirates                                                                         - Widely cultivated
Khanazi                       Mid – season      Medium             60 – 80        Rutub and Tamr
               of UAE                                                                              - Commercial variety
                                                                                                   - Moderately
          All the Emirates
Khasab                            Late          Very late     100 – 120 (Rutub)       Rutub        cultivated
               of UAE
                                                                                                   - Commercial variety
                              Flowering                       Average yield      Date
Variety      Location                        Ripening stage                                          Remarks
                                period                          (kg/tree)     Consumption
                 RAK                                                                          - Very limited
Khadori         Sharjah       Mid – season    Mid – season       50 – 60          Tamr        cultivation
                 RAK                                                                          - Limited in cultivation
Khashkar        Sharjah       Mid – season    Mid – season       50 – 70          Tamr
              Abu Dhabi                                                                       - Semi commercial
                Emirate                                                        Rutub and      variety
Dabaas                        Mid – season    Mid – season       60 – 70
             (in Liwa and                                                        Tamr         - Restricted cultivation
            Bedh Zayed)
           All Agricultural                                                                   - Widely cultivated
                                              Mid – to late                   Tamr and then
 Razeer      especially in        Late                           60 – 80
                                                season                           Rutub
           Abu Dhabi and
           More specially                                                                     - Rarely cultivated
                                                                               Rutub and
Sukkari     in Abu Dhabi      Mid – season      Medium           50 – 70                      - Recommended to be
               and Dubai                                                                      grown in other Emirates
                             Flowering        Ripening       Average yield      Date
Variety       Location                                                                             Remarks
                               period           stage          (kg/tree)     Consumption
                                                                                              -Very rare but its
            Farms in Abu
 Sultana                     Mid – season   Medium to late      50 – 70      Rutub and Tamr   plantation is quickly
            Dhabi Emirate
          Specifically in                                                    Tamr and then    -Widely cultivated
 Shahla                      Mid – season   Mid – season        60 – 80
         Fujaira Emirate                                                        Rutub         -Commercial variety
         All Emirates but                                                                     -Cultivation is not
          in particular in                                                                    very widely spread
 Shishi                      Mid – season   Mid – season        40 – 60      Rutub and Tamr
         Abu Dhabi and
         All the Emirates                                                                     -Widely cultivated
  Fard   but in particular       Late       Medium to late      60 – 80          Tamr         -Commercial variety
           in Abu Dhabi
            All over the                                                                      -Widely cultivated
  Lulu                           Late       Medium to late      60 – 80          Tamr
              Emirates                                                                        -Commercial variety
         All the Emirates                                                                     -Good quality fruit
Maktoumi but in particular   Mid – season   Mid – season        40 – 60          Tamr         -Good potential for
           in Abu Dhabi                                                                       expansion
                          Flowering     Ripening       Average yield       Date
Variety     Location                                                                       Remarks
                            period        stage          (kg/tree)      Consumption
Masl      All the      Mid – season   Mid – season   40 – 60           Tamr           -Widely cultivated
          Emirates                                                                    -Semi commercial
Nighal    All the      Very early     Very early     40 – 60           Rutub          -Widely cultivated
          Emirates                                                                    -Commercial variety
Hilali    All the      Mid – season   Very late      50 – 70           Rutub          -Widely cultivated
          Emirates                                                                    -Commercial variety

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