Barley and Vetch yields from dryland rotations with varying tillage and residue management under Mediterranean conditions
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With increasing land-use pressure in semi-arid, dryland Middle Eastern agriculture, fallow-based cereal production has given way to cropping intensification, including legume-based rotations along with conservation tillage and on-farm straw disposal. Such agronomic developments can only be biologically and economically assessed in multi-year trials. Thus, this 10-year study examined the influence of tillage systems (conventional and shallow or conservation) and variable stubble management, including compost application, on yields of barley and vetch grown in rotation. Barley yielded higher with compost applied every two or four years than with burning or soil-incorporating the straw and stubble. Barley straw and grain yields were generally higher with the mouldboard plough. Similarly with vetch, treatments involving compost application yielded significantly higher than burning or incorporating the straw and stubble. Despite yearly differences between crop yields, the pattern of treatment differences was consistent. Thus, the cereal–vetch rotation system is sustainable, while excess straw could be used as compost with benefit to the crop. Though there was no clear advantage of the shallow conservation-type tillage, the energy costs are less, thus indicating its possible advantage over conventional deep tillage in such rotational cropping systems.
- ICARDA