Barley-salt-bush intercropping for sustainable feed production in a dry Mediterranean steppe environment
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Michael Jones, Z. Arous. (25/12/2001). Barley-salt-bush intercropping for sustainable feed production in a dry Mediterranean steppe environment. journal of agronomy and crop science, 184 (4), pp. 253-260.
Dry rangelands in the Syrian steppe have been degraded by overgrazing and incursions of barley cultivation. Replanting with Atriplex spp. (salt-bush) is recommended for rehabilitation; but, for land already ploughed, growing barley between atriplex hedges may be the best compromise, providing complementary feed sources and soil protection against wind erosion. The trial described here measured the biomass output of barley and atriplex browse material in a range of treatments, in which hedge dimensions and crop-strip widths were varied in partial factorial combination. Results over 6 years showed little interaction between hedges and barley crop, but growing the two together tended to buffer total feed output against annual fluctuations due to rainfall variability. An apparent decline in atriplex vigour towards the end of the study period drew attention to the need to optimize browsing pressure on the shrubs. Altogether, the indications are that barley-atriplex systems have potential to provide sustainable production in currently degraded steppe areas, but essential conditions for success will be full control of land access and skilled management of atriplex shrubs.