Adaptation of Medicago rigidula to a cereal–pasture rotation in north-west Syria
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A. M. Abd El Moneim, Phil S. Cocks. (27/3/2009). Adaptation of Medicago rigidula to a cereal–pasture rotation in north-west Syria. The Journal of Agricultural Science, 107 (1), pp. 179-186.
The ley-farming system (integrated cereal and livestock production in which cerealsrotate with self-regenerating pastures) is considered to be of great potential benefit to north Africa and west Asia. In the colder parts of this region (of which north Syria is typical) its application is limited by poor adaptation of commercial medic cultivars (mainly Medicago truncatula and M. littoralis). An extended selection programme hag identified M. rigidula as adapted to the soils and climate of the region but nothing is known of its adaptation to the ley-farming system itself. An experiment which included 23 selections of M. rigidula and one each of M. rotata and M. noeana was conducted over 3 years during which herbage production, seed yield, and the fate of seeds were observed during the 1st year when pastures were established, the 2nd year when wheat was sown, and the 3rd year when the pasture regenerated. Of the 400–800 kg seed/ha produced in the 1st year an average of 87% remained in the soil in spring of the 3rd year. The weight of seed regenerating in the 3rd year varied from 30 to nearly 170 kg/ha, and herbage production, especially in winter, depended heavily on the number of regenerating seedlings. The most productive regenerating pastures produced nearly 2 t/ha of dried herbage by 1 January, and more than 6 t/ha for the whole growing season. The results showed that there was sufficient residual and newly produced seed at the end of the 3rd year to be sure that subsequent regeneration would result in similar herbage yields in the 5th year, and that the pasture was assured of long-term persistence. The significance of this for livestock production is discussed, and it is concluded that the results should encourage further investigation of grazing management and socioeconomic factors seen as constraints to introducing the ley-farming system to north Syria.
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