Barley–legumes rotations for semi-arid areas of Lebanon
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Sui-Kwong Yau, M. Bounejmate, John Ryan, Riad Z Baalbaki, A. Nassar, R. Maacaroun. (1/8/2003). Barley–legumes rotations for semi-arid areas of Lebanon. European Journal of Agronomy, 19 (4), pp. 599-610.
In arid and semi-arid areas of West Asia and North Africa, including the northern Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, farmers have been increasingly practicing continuous barley cultivation. The objectives of the study were to (1) determine whether barley monoculture is unsustainable1, (2) ascertain if barley and total dry matter yields can be increased and sustained by including a legume crop in the rotation, and (3) determine which barley–legume rotations are more productive. The trial was set up in a randomised complete block design with two replicates under rain-fed conditions in 1994–1995 at the Agricultural Research and Educational Center (33°56′ N, 36°5′ E, 995 m above sea level). Eight two-phase barley-based rotations were compared: barley in rotation with barley, lentil, common vetch, bitter vetch, common vetch for grazing, medics for grazing, common vetch for hay, and common vetch with barley for hay. Seed and straw were harvested from barley and legumes in the first four rotations. Relative to the trial mean, seed and straw yield under barley monoculture slumped in 1997–1998 and did not recover since then. Infestation of wild barley was a cause of this yield decline. Barley–legume rotations yielded 44–80% more barley grain and 27–53% more barley straw than the barley monoculture over the 6 years (1995–1996 to 2000–2001). Furthermore, in the legume phase, common and bitter vetch gave higher seed yield than barley monoculture. Thus, all barley–legume rotations, except barley–medics, yielded more total dry matter than barley monoculture on the basis of per rotation cycle. Among the barley–legume rotations, the barley-common vetch for seed rotation gave the highest and most stable dry matter yield. In conclusion, barley monoculture was unsustainable, but barley yields could be increased and sustained by including legumes in the rotation. Farmers in semi-arid areas of Lebanon should discontinue practicing barley monoculture and adopt a barley–legume, such as common vetch, rotation.
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