Is it possible to get 3 times more fodder without adding new land to circulation, and without withdrawing land from other crops? Yes, you can. The second question immediately arises: if it is possible, then why has no one done this so far? Most likely, this is a problem of dissemination of knowledge. It's just that farmers who specialize in animal husbandry and fodder do not have reliable information about such opportunities. Because if there is an opportunity to get more harvest, why not take advantage of it? After all, there is little land for the production of feed, feed is always in great short supply.
Table No. 1. Area under fodder crops
In the republic (thousand hectares)
Total area under fodder crops
Area under fodder crops of farms
Total area under fodder crops
Area under fodder crops of farms
Source: Agriculture of Uzbekistan, Statistical Compendium. Tashkent 2011.
The new GEF SGP project aims to disseminate this technology for more efficient use of land for fodder production while restoring soil fertility and preventing further degradation. The technology is proposed for implementation by the Samarkand Agricultural Institute in close cooperation with the Payaryk district branch of the farmers' association and the Fayzullaev Aziz A. farm.
This technology has 2 components: more feed and better for the soil. We will try to cover both components.
More fodder is obtained by introducing into the composition of the existing crop rotation (winter wheat, corn) a 4-field short rotation crop rotation, shown in diagram No. 1.
Scheme No. 1. Cyclicity of a 4-field crop rotation
The above 4-field intensive fodder crop rotation for 1 year gives:
1st field in 1 ha: 6,000 k.u. + 8,040 + 2,520 + 5,000 = 21,560 k.u.
2-field in 1 ha: 11,000 + 6,000 = 17,000 k.u.;
3-field in 1 ha: 18,400 + 2,760 + 6,300 = 27,460 k.u.;
4-field in 1 ha: 10,720 + 3,360 + 6,000 = 20,080 k.u.;
Total from 4 ha: CU 21,560 + CU 17,000 + CU 27,460 + CU 20,080 = CU 86,100
On average, from 1 ha of 4 full crop rotations 86,100 k.u./4 ha = 21,525 k.u.
In fact, 21,525 k.u. are produced from 1 ha, which is more than 2.8 times more fodder units compared to the existing fodder crop rotation (7,580 k.u.). Such a difference is obtained by increasing the amount of the crop, diversifying crops and saturating the crop rotation with repeated, stubble crops.
A perfectly logical question from a farmer might be about costs. After all, it seems that the number of operations is increasing, and consequently the number of expenses. How much income will cover expenses? The project will answer this question by conducting a full economic analysis of the technology. Although even now we can say with confidence that the balance of profitability will be positive. Follow the development of the project.
In addition to obtaining an additional crop, it is equally important to improve the quality of the soil and stop its degradation. It is difficult to calculate in monetary terms, but there are methods and experiments that show how much additional yield each additional point of soil quality gives. In fact, the better we make the soil, the healthier the ecosystem becomes, the better and more sustainable the farmers' crops will be in the future, which means the country's food security will be more stable.
Soil quality improves due to the following factors:
1) The project will use the technology of conservation agriculture or, as it is otherwise called, no-seeding crops. This technology reduces costs by 30-40%. But more importantly, this technology allows you to restore the microfauna of the soil, and therefore increase its fertility. Individual elements of this technology are also noted below.
2) Mulching crop residues allows you to return organic matter to the soil, increasing the content of humus in the soil and beneficial microorganisms, improving soil structure.
3) The technology is set in such a way that the soil is always covered with a green cover, which creates its shading, weakens the heating of the soil, and reduces the upward flow of mineralized groundwater. Weakened heating also increases the downward current, which allows irrigation water to better flush salts deeper into the soil, which contributes to soil desalination from harmful salts and, accordingly, a decrease in water consumption for irrigation. The same principle of constant shading of the soil surface was also used by us in the phytomelioration project in Karakalpakstan (see the article above in the same issue).
4) Laser leveling of the land also, in addition to saving water, helps to prevent the accumulation of salts in the soil;
5) Use in circulation of a legume-cereal mixture of legumes that have a branched, densely woven root system, which allows the accumulation of root residues in the arable layer, which enriches the soil with organic matter.
6) The same root residues create conditions for better accumulation of moisture and accumulation of winter precipitation, being a good protection against wind and water erosion. The accumulation of such residues improves the water-physical properties of the soil in the root layer, protecting it from excessive evaporation of moisture and salinization.
7) The use of legumes allows increasing the accumulation of atmospheric nitrogen by nodule bacteria, which also improves soil fertility.
In addition, this technology is important in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere from soil cultivation (nitrous oxide) and can serve as a good technology for farmers to adapt to the coming climate aridity and water scarcity, due to its moisture-saving properties.
And what happens?
The project is starting, but expectations are already high. We expect, and hope that our expectations will be met, that this technology:
• will allow to preserve, restore and increase soil fertility and protect them from wind and water erosion in the future;
• will increase the return/productivity of 1 irrigated hectare, producing much-needed fodder for animal husbandry;
• will reduce the cost of fodder production due to many factors (saving irrigation water, burningcho-lubricants, economies of scale).
The final results will be visible after the completion of the project. But even now we can say that this is a good, strategically important technology that requires special attention and, with positive results in the Samarkand region, distribution throughout the country.
The GEF SGP is ready to help disseminate this technology in other regions of Uzbekistan.