Oman Shell and SQU completes successful trials on the use of special-s fertiliser for the reclamation of saline-sodic soils in Oman
Aug 29, 2022
Muscat – Oman Shell, Shell Agriculture & Forestry and Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) recently celebrated the successful conclusion of Phases 1 and 2 of a research aimed at finding viable solutions to address soil salinity across South Al-Batinah Governorate.
Soil salinity impacts about 70% of Oman’s agriculturally suitable land in Oman. The increase in soil salinity of South Al-Batinah is due to seawater intrusion and irrigation mismanagement along with naturally occurring salt accumulation because of high temperatures and low rainfall.
Oman Shell in collaboration with Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), carried out research between 2020 and 2022, to study how effective Special-S (a sulphur fertilizer produced using Shell Thiogro technology) is in remediating saline-sodic soils through soil acidification.
In Phase 1 of the research, incubation trials and column experiments were performed with Special-S on decreasing soil pH (measure of the acidity or alkalinity of the soil), and salt leaching was carried out on five different types of soil collected from different Omani farms. Special-S showed significant acidification of the soil, and was effective in salt leaching, doubling salts leached as compared to control.
Field trials were also conducted to evaluate the plant response to this amendment. With the application of Special-S, there was a 13% increase in yield of Rhodes grass and 59% increase in yield of wheat. The calcium and phosphorous uptake by Rhodes grass plants were 75% and 14% higher respectively as compared to control.
In Phase 2 of this research, a socio-economic survey was carried out to understand current Omani farmers’ perception of the soil salinity issue and its management, as well as their willingness to apply new technologies to alleviate soil salinity. Though 62% were not currently using any specific techniques to alleviate salinity, 82% of farmers indicated a willingness to purchase soil amendment to manage soil salinity. Additionally, improving the active management of soil salinity would increase the sustainability of these farms, and mitigate a myriad of social and economic problems associated with the decay of soil quality and productivity.
Further studies in Phase 2 testified to Special-S effectiveness in leaching salts compared to agricultural gypsum and control, with Special S being 31 – 37% more effective in leaching. Compared with agricultural gypsum, Special-S enables the replacement of Na+ ions without the addition of external Ca2+ ions that are already abundant in Omani soils.
With the conclusion of Phase 1 and Phase 2, SQU recommends 1 ton per hectare per year Special-S application on soils with electrical conductivity between 4 – 20 dS/m that experience poor irrigation water quality. Referencing to Oman Salinity Strategy 2012, about 30 - 40% of Omani farms Al Batinah meet these conditions.
Oman Shell’s Country Chairman Walid Hadi commented on the research saying, “Soil salinity is an increasing concern for South Al-Batinah. We have worked together with SQU to conduct critical research which has been a big contributor to a productive and sustainable agricultural sector.” He added, “It has been a privilege to work with the brilliant minds at SQU to meet this real-life challenge facing the industry head-on.”
Zain Hak, Shell’s Global Vice President Agriculture & Forestry (A&F) highlights, “Soil salinity puts pressure on existing agricultural communities. As the research with SQU validates, Special-S alleviates soil salinity and increases productivity in Omani farms. This helps address Oman’s food security concerns while empowering Omani farmers to raise their income with more arable land and higher yields.” He also adds, “This research collaboration with SQU is a great example of how Shell A&F continues to look for opportunities to offer sustainable and integrated solutions to meet productivity and emissions related challenges across the agriculture and forestry value chains.”
Dr. Daniel Blackburn, Project Leader from the Department of Soils, Water and Agricultural Engineering of Sultan Qaboos University said, “The salt contamination of agriculture soils in South Al-Batinah has been a real agricultural challenge, reducing farm yields and profitability, and in extreme cases, forcing farmers to abandon their lands. Our collaboration with Oman Shell represents a fantastic public-private partnership directed at community wellbeing, as we believe that the use of Special-S will provide continuous Sulphur and nitrogen nutrition to crops. This product will aid in the reclamation of salt affected soils, helping in leaching excess sodium salts, whilst decreasing soil alkalinity and improving plant nutrition. With this technology and data from the research results, we hope to make a substantial contribution to the sustainable management of Omani soil and to the Sultanate’s food security.”
Successful phase 2 with SQU and Shell
About Oman Shell
- Shell has been a partner in Oman’s development and progress over the last several decades. We have been providing pioneering technologies and expertise in the energy industry and creating value for the community.
- Shell is active in Oman across the energy industry and is involved in joint venture and independent activities ranging from research and development, exploration and production to trading, retail and new energies. Shell also implements an extensive social investment programme that contributes to the sustainable development of the country.
- Shell has also been appointed as the official operator of Block, as per Royal Decree in 12/2022 and hold interests in Blocks 42 and 55.
- Shell holds interests in Petroleum Development Oman (34%), Oman LNG (30%) and Shell Oman Marketing Company (49%). Together they represent a substantial part of Oman’s economic growth.
About Shell Agriculture & Forestry (A&F)
A&F is a dedicated organization within Shell to profitability serve and jointly decarbonize the A&F sector which accounts for about 27% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A&F does this by being the partner of choice in offering sustainable and integrated solutions to solve challenges across A&F value chains, accelerating the sector’s transition to net zero emissions.
Salima Al Masrouri
External Communications Advisor, Oman Shell.
Media Relation Advisor, MENA.
Shell Development Oman LLC
Mobile: +968 9173 5418
The companies in which Shell plc directly and indirectly owns investments are separate legal entities. In this press release “Shell”, “Shell Group” and “Group” are sometimes used for convenience where references are made to Shell plc and its subsidiaries in general. Likewise, the words “we”, “us” and “our” are also used to refer to Shell plc and its subsidiaries in general or to those who work for them. These terms are also used where no useful purpose is served by identifying the particular entity or entities. ‘‘Subsidiaries’’, “Shell subsidiaries” and “Shell companies” as used in this press release refer to entities over which Shell plc either directly or indirectly has control. Entities and unincorporated arrangements over which Shell has joint control are generally referred to as “joint ventures” and “joint operations”, respectively. “Joint ventures” and “joint operations” are collectively referred to as “joint arrangements”. Entities over which Shell has significant influence but neither control nor joint control are referred to as “associates”. The term “Shell interest” is used for convenience to indicate the direct and/or indirect ownership interest held by Shell in an entity or unincorporated joint arrangement, after exclusion of all third-party interest.
This press release contains forward-looking statements (within the meaning of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995) concerning the financial condition, results of operations and businesses of Shell. All statements other than statements of historical fact are, or may be deemed to be, forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are statements of future expectations that are based on management’s current expectations and assumptions and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results, performance or events to differ materially from those expressed or implied in these statements. Forward-looking statements include, among other things, statements concerning the potential exposure of Shell to market risks and statements expressing management’s expectations, beliefs, estimates, forecasts, projections and assumptions. These forward-looking statements are identified by their use of terms and phrases such as “aim”, “ambition”, ‘‘anticipate’’, ‘‘believe’’, ‘‘could’’, ‘‘estimate’’, ‘‘expect’’, ‘‘goals’’, ‘‘intend’’, ‘‘may’’, “milestones”, ‘‘objectives’’, ‘‘outlook’’, ‘‘plan’’, ‘‘probably’’, ‘‘project’’, ‘‘risks’’, “schedule”, ‘‘seek’’, ‘‘should’’, ‘‘target’’, ‘‘will’’ and similar terms and phrases. There are a number of factors that could affect the future operations of Shell and could cause those results to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements included in this press release, including (without limitation): (a) price fluctuations in crude oil and natural gas; (b) changes in demand for Shell’s products; (c) currency fluctuations; (d) drilling and production results; (e) reserves estimates; (f) loss of market share and industry competition; (g) environmental and physical risks; (h) risks associated with the identification of suitable potential acquisition properties and targets, and successful negotiation and completion of such transactions; (i) the risk of doing business in developing countries and countries subject to international sanctions; (j) legislative, judicial, fiscal and regulatory developments including regulatory measures addressing climate change; (k) economic and financial market conditions in various countries and regions; (l) political risks, including the risks of expropriation and renegotiation of the terms of contracts with governmental entities, delays or advancements in the approval of projects and delays in the reimbursement for shared costs; (m) risks associated with the impact of pandemics, such as the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak; and (n) changes in trading conditions. No assurance is provided that future dividend payments will match or exceed previous dividend payments. All forward-looking statements contained in this press release are expressly qualified in their entirety by the cautionary statements contained or referred to in this section. Readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. Additional risk factors that may affect future results are contained in Shell plc’s Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2021 (available at www.shell.com/investor and www.sec.gov). These risk factors also expressly qualify all forward-looking statements contained in this press release and should be considered by the reader. Each forward-looking statement speaks only as of the date of this press release, August 29, 2022. Neither Shell plc nor any of its subsidiaries undertake any obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement as a result of new information, future events or other information. In light of these risks, results could differ materially from those stated, implied or inferred from the forward-looking statements contained in this press release.