Turkey is a transcontinental country that spans the Anatolian peninsula in western Asia and Thrace in southeastern Europe, serving as a bridge between Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean. Its land area totals 783,577 km2. The coastal regions along the Aegean and Mediterranean seas experience a temperate Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild to cool wet winters. Notably, Aegean Turkey and the arid areas in central and northern Anatolia are rich in landraces of crops like wheat, emmer, barley, chestnuts, sesame, thyme, grapes, and pomegranates. These crops hold global significance and are vital for both national food security and dietary health.
The steppe ecosystem, particularly in Turkey, is crucial economically, as many food crops have evolved from wild relatives native to this region. Pistachio cultivation is widespread in countries like Iran, Syria, Turkey, and the USA, with Iran contributing around half of global production (53.2%). The USA follows with approximately 22.3% of world production, and Turkey ranks third, producing 12.7%. Despite these countries boasting the largest areas and numbers of pistachio trees, production remains low in Turkey and Syria. Remarkably, Turkey is unique for growing pistachios in challenging environments characterized by dry climates and poor, rocky, calcareous soils.
Turkey's agricultural lands face heightened vulnerability due to factors such as historical human settlement, unsustainable land use practices, resistance to conservative land management methods, topographical variations, deforestation, and shifting climate patterns. Intensive land use and excessive use of NH4-based fertilizers have led to soil acidification. Thus, effective soil and water resource management is urgently required to combat land degradation and enhance the capacity of Turkish soils for sustainable agriculture and food production.
Biochar, a promising soil enhancer with potential to counter land degradation, improve agriculture, and address climate change, remains underutilized in Turkish agricultural lands due to scaling-up challenges. Similarly, wood vinegar, a by-product of pyrolysis, holds promise as a soil enhancer and biopesticide but is currently underexplored in Turkey.