Why Was the Nile River Valley Good for Farming?

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For centuries, four million tons of nutrient rich silt were deposited on the farmland forming the floodplain of the Nile River Valley, making the soil an ideal growing medium for plants to provide food for the people living in the surrounding area. While flooding was beneficial to farming, it brought other difficulties, and in 1889, the first Aswan Dam was built to bring flood control.

Egypt began construction of a larger dam in the 1950s that took many years to complete. This second Aswan Dam provides better flood control and many benefits to Egypt. However, with the benefits came the loss of silt that had benefited farmers in the past. As a result of this dam, farmers have needed to add one million tons of artificial fertilizer in an attempt to replace the lost nutrients. The lack of sediment deposits has also increased erosion, further complicating farming the land.

While the Aswan provided water for irrigation, the poor drainage of the land increased the salinity of the ground. Stagnant water has increased problems with parasitic disease in the standing pools as well as the reservoir. The Aswan has not only affected farming; the lack of the annual flooding has affected the shrimp harvest in the Mediterranean.