Assessment of long-term barley–legume rotations in a typical Mediterranean agro-ecosystem: grain and straw yields uri icon

abstract

  • Traditional Mediterranean rainfed cereal/fallow systems are being replaced by cereal monoculture due to land-use pressure. Food or forage legumes in rotation with cereals are an alternative sustainable cropping system. Complex cropping systems can only be assessed by long-term trials. This 11-year rainfed barley-based rotation trial in northern Syria assessed rotation effects on yields of barley and legumes, with particular emphasis on the management of vetch. The mean order of barley grain yields from the rotations was: vetch for hay, vetch for grazing > fallow = medic = vetch for seed > lentil, and continuous barley. Straw yields followed a similar pattern. Nitrogen (60 kg ha(-1)) increased grain (39%) and straw (65%) yields. The N fertilization of barley had no carryover effect on the alternative legume crops. Although there were no significant differences in seed or straw yield between lentil and vetch, seasonal rainfall influenced overall yields. Total biomass yields were in the order of vetch, medic and lentil. There is a compelling case for annual vetch paired with barley in rotations for the Mediterranean region. Thus, barley/vetch rotations can potentially enhance barley yields and improve soil quality, and provide valuable fodder for small ruminants as well in the region's agricultural systems.

publication date

  • 2012
  • 2012