Morocco - Tensift

Site Description


The watershed is located in the Tensift region of Marrakech in Morocco (Figure 1). Covering an area of about 20,000 km ², it is composed of 3 hydrological parts. South of the basin, the northern slopes of the Atlas is well-watered and snow (up to 600 mm / year). Peaking at over 4,000 m, those mountains are the water tower of the Haouz plain. In the center, a vast plain, characterized by a semi-arid climate (rainfall 250 mm / year), and where the water flows are predominantly vertical except for wadis and water infrastructures. The main irrigated areas are located in the central and eastern part (2000 km ²) and rainfed cereals  is practiced on the rest of the plain. The cultivation of wheat is majority with over 80% of acreage covered followed by olive trees occupy about 13% of the plain, the remaining area being occupied by citrus, apricot, market gardens, vineyards, fodder . These proportions change significantly in the irrigated area where tree crops dominate. In the north, the small chain of arid mountains "Jbilets" has, in the present state of knowledge, little influence on the hydrological cycle in the region.

Figure 1: location of the Tensift Watershed in Morocco

Figure 2: location of the Haouz plain and the two sites in the Tensift Watershed

Two test sites are considered for JECAM:

The R3 sector is a 3000 ha area with flood irrigation on demand located 40 km east of Marrakech. The main crop is Winter Wheat. The other crops represent less than 20% of the cultivated area being Sugar Beet, Olive trees, etc. Soil texture is mainly Clay Loam. The growing season of winter wheat is December-June, sugar beet is from November to june, and Olive grove is evergreen with latency during the summer. The whole site have been under study since 2002 and benefited from several remote sensing campaigns with optical (SPOT, Landsat, Formosat), thermal (Aster, Landsat), and radar (ASAR) satellite timeseries.
Tha Agafay plantation is a mandarine orchard located 20 km east of Marrakech which extends on 500 ha. The plantation benefits from drip irrigation. Soil texture is loam, mandarines trees are evergreen with latency during the summer. The site is monitored since 2006 with an eddy covariance system, soil temperature and humidity sensors, fluxmeters. Sapflow measurements for separation of evaporation and transpiration have been carried on.

A picture of a wheat field in the Haouz plain of Marrakech, with the High Atlas Mountain in the back.

©2015 Joint Experiment for Crop Assessment and Monitoring