MART-AZR Project Research Report for 24: Barley Production under Subtropical Conditions in Upland Baluchistan: Agronomic and Socio-Economic Considerations
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D. J. Rees, F. Rehman, A. Samiullah, Nagy J. G, G. Farid Sabir, Keatinge J. D. H. S. H. Reza. (23/3/1999). MART-AZR Project Research Report for 24: Barley Production under Subtropical Conditions in Upland Baluchistan: Agronomic and Socio-Economic Considerations. Punjab, Pakistan: Arid Zone Research Institute**.
The main dryland agricultural activity in upland Baluchistan is sheep and goat production using rangeland grazing as the main source of feed supply. Barley is grown as a supplementary feed on rainfed and "water-harvesting land" but the area planted to wheat is much greater than that for barley. Annual rainfall varies from 150 to 350 mm, and the exceedance probability of receiving 300 mm varies from 10 to 30X for most of upland Baluchistan. Rainfall during the grain-filling period is usually low resulting in frequent and severe crop water stress. Air temperatures vary considerably with elevation, with periods of frost ranging from a few days to over three months in winter, and summer temperatures varying from 35 to 40 C. The agricultural soils are generally fine-textured, highly calcareous, and low in nitrogen, phosphate, and organic matter. The results of a series of surveys of farmers' practices, yield expectations and production problems are presented. Barley is perceived as a lower-yielding crop than wheat, but the main reason for sowing more wheat than barley is for food security. The results of a multi-Iocational barley variety/fertilizer trial conducted on farmers' fields over three years are presented. Crop water use efficiencies varied from 9 to 14 k g ha-1mm-1• Application of· fertilizer increased biological yield and crop water use efficiencies, but not enough to pay for the fertilizer, even in a "wet" year. The variety "Arabic abiad" from Syria demonstrated a consistent increase in "environmental stability" and water use efficiency compared to the local check, resulting in an overall increase in the economic gross benefit of 20X. Even with full adoption of the new barley variety, it is unlikely that farmers will increase the area sown to barley at the expense of land sown to wheat. Changes and improvements to the whole crop-livestock system will be probably be required before the farmers will make any major shift away from growing poor crops of wheat for subsistence to growing better yielding crops of barley for improved livestock production. The nature of some of these changes are outlined.
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