Ecological Potential assessment of soil in agricultural lands in Hamedan Province, Iran, using geographic information system

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Agriculture Extension and Education, Bu-Ali Sina University, Hamedan, Iran

2 School of Agricultural Development, Bu Ali Sina University, Hamadan, Iran


The main purpose of the present study was to assess the ecological potential of agricultural soils using geographic information system (GIS). This research was conducted during 2014 in Hamedan Province, Iran. A cross-sectional study was conducted mapping the 10 factors of soil characteristics (texture, depth, erosion, and aggregation, percentage of slope, direction of slope, height, soil salinity, pH, and fertility) that affect ecological potential. The maps were overlaid in ArcGIS software. The weighting of factors was performed using the analytical hierarchy process (AHP) technique in Expert Choice Software. Preference for the options (layers) was specified and an ecological potential map of agricultural lands in the province was created. Among the factors studied, the pH of the soil weighing 0.313 was the most important factor and soil salinity with 0.228 was the second most important factor influencing ecological potential. In general, growth-oriented agricultural development policies and improper management of farms in recent years has reduced the ecological potential of agricultural lands. The results showed that the highest and lowest ecological potential of soil in agricultural lands in the area was 6.2% and 0.07%, respectively. Development of sustainable agriculture practices, such as low tillage and no-tillage practices, reduction in the use of chemical pesticides, and use of green fertilizers to maintain and enhance the ecological potential of agricultural lands and resources, are recommended. In the policy-making process, sustainability and resource management must become a dominant notion and planning priority for policy makers and managers.


  1. 1. Barzegar A. Salt affected soils (identification and exploitation). Khuzestan, Ahvaz: Shahid Chamran University Press; 2002. [In Persian].
    2. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Fao-food and agriculture. [Online]. [cited 2009]; Available from: URL:
    3. .McHarg IL. Design with nature. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons; 1995.
    4. Reyahi Khoram M, Shariat M, Azar A, Mahjub H, Moharamnejad N. Environmental evaluation for agricultural activity by GIS; a case study. Sarhad J Agrci 2007; 23(2): 339-44.
    5. Veríssimo H, Lane M, Patrício J, Gamito S, Carlos Marques J. Trends in water quality and subtidal benthic communities in a temperate estuary: Is the response to restoration efforts hidden by climate variability and the Estuarine Quality Paradox? Ecological Indicators 2013; 24: 56-67.
    6. Borja A, Elliott M. What does 'good ecological potential' mean, within the European Water Framework Directive? Mar Pollut Bull 2007; 54(10): 1559-64.
    7. Ceia FR, Patrício J, Franco J, Pinto R, Fernández-Boo S, Losi V, et al. Assessment of estuarine macrobenthic assemblages and ecological quality status at a dredging site in a southern Europe estuary. Ocean & Coastal Management 2013; 72: 80-92.
    8. Chainho P, Silva G, Lane MF, Costa J, Pereira T, Azeda C, et al. Long-term trends in intertidal and subtidal benthic communities in response to water quality improvement measures. Estuaries and Coasts 2010; 33(6): 1314-26.
    9. Saaty TL. The analytic hierarchy process: planning, priority setting, resource allocation. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1980. p. 437.
    10. Dashti S, Monavari M, Sabzghabaei GH. Rehahabilitations to received the rural sustainable development using environmental potential evaluation Zakherd watershed. Environmental Sciences 2009; 6(2): 77-86. [In Persian].
    11. Parvaresh H, Dehghani M, Nohegar A. The comparison of physical per ECA ration (geomorphology), and methods for assessing the ecological capability of watershed land in the province of Hormozgan. The Journal of Land Assessment 2010; 2(2): 27-50. [In Persian]. 

    12. Movahed A, Zadeh Dabagh N. Ecological potential evaluation of Dez river confine (Tanzimi sluice than Ghire sluice) for ecotourism. Journal of Environmental Studies 2010; 36(55): 4-6.
    13. Norouzi Avargani A, Nouri SH, Kiani Selmi S. Evaluation of environmental capacities for agricultural development? (Case study: Choghakhor rural district, Borujen Township). Journal of Rural Research 2010; 1(2): 9-116. [In Persian].
    14. Moradzadeh F, Babaei-Kafaki S, Mataji A. Assessment of ecological competence of surface expansion through GIS (case study: Dadabad District in Lorestan Province). Renewable Natural Resources Research 2011; 2(4): 11-23. [In Persian].
    15. Gharakhlou M, Pourkhabbaz HR, Amiri MJ, Faraji HA. Ecological capability evaluation of Gazvin region for determining urban development potential points using geographic information system. Urban a Regional Studies and Research 2009; 1(2): 51-68.[In Persian].
    16. Ashrafi A, Mikaniki J, Dehghani M. Agro- ecological zoning and evaluation of ecological potencies of south khorasan for jujube plantation. Journal of Geographic Space 2013; 3(7): 67-86. [In Persian].
    17. Martins I, Pardal MA, Lillebo AI, Flindt MR, Marques JC. Hydrodynamics as a major factor controlling the occurrence of green macroalgal blooms in a eutrophic estuary: a case study on the influence of precipitation and river management. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 2001; 52(2): 165-77.
    18. Marques JC, Neto JM, Patrício J, Pinto R, Teixeira H, Veríssimo H. Monitoring the Mondego estuary.[Online]. [cited 2007 Jan]; Available from: URL: n&hl=nl&user=la84roQAAAAJ&citation_for_view=la 84roQAAAAJ:ufrVoPGSRksC
    19. Hering D, Borja A, Carstensen J, Carvalho L, Elliott M, Feld CK, et al. The European Water Framework Directive at the age of 10: A critical review of the achievements with recommendations for the future. Science of the Total Environment 2010; 408(19): 4007-19.
    20. Noori H, Seidaei E, Kiani S, Soltani Z, Norouzi A. Assessment of ecologic environmental sources for determining rich farmland by GIS (central district of Kiar Sub County). Geography and Environmental Planning 2010; 21(1): 77-94. [In Persian].
    21. Meire P, Ysebaert T, van Damme S, van den Bergh E, Maris T, Struyf E. The Scheldt estuary: a description of a changing ecosystem. Hydrobiologia 2005; 540(1-3):
    1- 11.
    22. McLusky DS, Elliott M. The estuarine ecosystem: ecology, threats, and management. 3rd ed. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press; 2004. p. 216. 

    23. Paerl HW. Assessing and managing nutrient-enhanced eutrophication in estuarine and coastal waters: Interactive effects of human and climatic perturbations. Ecological Engineering 2006; 26(1): 40-54.
    24. Fredriksen S, de Backer A, Boström C, Christie H. Infauna fromZostera marina L. meadows in Norway. Differences in vegetated and unvegetated areas. Marine Biology Research 2009; 6(2): 189-200.

    25. Rasouli AA, Ghasemim K, Sobhani B. The role of precipitation and elevation in determine of the favorable area for dry-farming wheat with usage of GIS study case: Ardabil province. Geography and Development Iranian Journal 2005; 3(5): 183-200.
    26. Veríssimo H, Bremner J, Garcia C, Patrício J, van der Linden P, Marques JC. Assessment of the subtidal macrobenthic community functioning of a temperate estuary following environmental restoration. Ecological Indicators 2012; 23: 312-22.