Root adaptation of urban trees to a more precise irrigation system: Mature olive as a case study

Fahime Mohamadzade, Mahdi Gheysari, Mina Kiani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientific


Water scarcity encourages municipalities to use more precise irrigation systems in arid urban landscapes. However, major concerns are associated with the adaptation of mature trees to new irrigation systems after they have matured under traditional management. We investigated the adaptation of mature olive trees to a change in irrigation system from a traditional surface to an automatic drip irrigation system in a coarse-textured urban forest park. The growth indices of eight-year-old olive trees were monitored for the period of 2012–2014 under three irrigation systems: (1) automated drip irrigation (ADI) for trees that matured under traditional basin-surface irrigation (TSI), (2) TSI since plantation, and (3) traditional drip irrigation (TDI) irrigating the trees depending on water availability since the time of planting. We additionally determined the spatial pattern of root development by collecting 156 soil samples from each irrigation system with a 20 × 20-cm grid system (120 cm width × 80 cm depth) in the soil profile. Results showed no significant differences in terms of fruit productivity between TSI and recently established ADI systems. Automated drip irrigation resulted in the maximum root density with a uniform root distribution pattern, where roots expanded all over the soil profile. In TSI, however, the roots were distributed irregularly, with the highest density close to the irrigation basin. The wide spacing between drippers in the TDI system created large gaps between the wetted zones in the soil with a low water-holding capacity, leading to a discrete small root system. The present study highlights the positive response of mature olive trees to the replacement of the irrigation system in an urban forest park with limited available water and low soil quality. Our findings will help municipalities to properly preserve mature urban trees and the ecosystem services for their inhabitants.
Original languageEnglish
Article number127053
JournalUrban Forestry & Urban Greening
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - May 2021
MoE publication typeB1 Journal article

Fields of Science

  • 4111 Agronomy
  • 4112 Forestry
  • 11831 Plant biology

Cite this