Farmer's guide to cereals and pastures

in the cereal zone

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FARMING ZONES IN WANA

Farming zones in WANA

Overview of the zone

GUIDE  FOR FARMERS AND EXTENSION AGENTS

TECHNICAL BACKUP FOR EXTENSION PROGRAMS

POLICY MAKERS AND PROJECT PLANNERS

 HIGH   RAINFALL  ZONE

  ABOVE 500 mm

CEREAL  ZONE

     500 mm  to 200 mm 

    Medic overview

Deep ploughing overview

YOU ARE HERE

What cultivar?

 How does your medic grow?

   MARGINAL  ZONE 
   

  250 mm  to 150 mm

 Tenure and grazing management

RANGELAND

Below 200  mm

Rangeland overview

Action plan for flockowners

Water harvesting

GUIDE  FOR FARMERS AND EXTENSION AGENTS

The rotations compared

The cereal crop

Medic pasture

Farmer training kits

Zaghouan 4 rotation

FOUR COMMON ROTATION ON THE GROUND IN THE WANA REGION

SEASON

CEREAL - FALLOW

CEREAL - MEDIC

(Traditional rotation)

CEREAL - VETCH

CEREAL - GRAIN
LEGUME.

AUTUMN

Cereal crop sown

Cereal crop sown

Cereal crop sown

Cereal crop sown

WINTER

Cereal crop grows

Cereal crop grows

Cereal crop grows

Cereal crop grows

SPRING

Cereal crop matures

Cereal crop matures

Cereal crop matures

Cereal crop matures

SUMMER

Cereal crop harvested
Stubble grazed by livestock

Cereal crop harvested
Stubble grazed by livestock

Cereal crop harvested
Stubble grazed by livestock

Cereal crop harvested
Stubble grazed by livestock

AUTUMN

Weeds germinate naturally

Medic regenerates from seed
produced 18 months earlier.
No cultivation of the land
required.

Land cultivated and sown to
vetch or similar forage
legumes.

Land cultivated and sown to
grain legume such as lentils or
chick peas.

WINTER

Weeds grazed. Low stocking rate.

Medic pasture grazed. High stocking rate.

Grazed or more often left for
hay.

Grain legumes grow.

SPRING

Land cultivated for fallow

Medic grazed. Pods produced
for future regeneration.

Cut for hay.

Grain legumes mature.

SUMMER

Bare soil vulnerable to
erosion.

Pods and stubble grazed.

Stubble grazed.

Harvested.

Stubble grazed.

AUTUMN

Cereal cycle begins again.

Cereal cycle begins again

Cereal cycle begins again

Cereal cycle begins again


THE COMMON ROTATIONS OF the WANA REGION COMPARED

CHAPTER HEADING

SUMMARY OF CONTENTS

Soil erosion is the main sustainability issue for farming in the cereal zone of
the WANA region. The impact of the four rotations on soil erosion is examined.

The possible benefits of moisture storage still lingers on as an issue with
many farmers. This chapter shows how moisture storage (if it occurs) cannot justify the use of a long cultivated fallow.

Costs and returns are the major determinants of farmers profits. The cost of production for each rotation is examined both for small and large farmers.

Returns relate to the level of output and price. This chapter looks mainly at
output.

For small farmers with few resources and financial reserves risk is
particularly import. A balance needs to be struck between high profits and
risk.

Each rotation has an inherent level of weed control. Other weed control
measures can be applied (see later chapters) but the natural ability of the
rotation to "clean" the land or otherwise is an important part of the decision
making process.

The amount of labour and the time it is used are an important aspect of each rotation.

This chapter looks at the capital requirements for each rotation but machinery is treated separately (see below)

Machinery is a special part of the general capital requirements. It is
particularly difficult for small farmers.

We have assumed that the starting point for most farmers is the growing of a cereal crop. We have examined the conflict between the requirement of the cereal crop and the new crop, new forage or pasture being introduced into the rotation.

Small farmers are resource poor. In this chapter we have selected the aspects of the above comparisons that would be appropriate for small farmers.

This chapter provide a framework for selecting a combination of the four
rotations and other variations.

The Zaghouan 4 rotation is not included in the comparison. It is an innovation from Tunisia that cleverly overcomes many of the problems of medic on small farms.


THE ESTABLISHMENT AND MANAGEMENT OF MEDIC PASTURE.

CHAPTER HEADING

SUMMARY

A simple budget showing the costs and returns from a medic pasture is an effective means of convincing farmers of the benefits of medic.

If the extremes of over-grazing and under-grazing can be avoided medic
pasture has a much greater chance of success. Planning the area of medic in relation to the flock size is a most effective means of improving grazing management.

Establishing medic pasture using seed has been the tradition in the WANA region over the last 25 years and in Australia for 80 years or more. It is difficult and costly, particularly for small farmers who lack the proper equipment.

Establishing medic pasture using pods is an innovation that offers many
potential benefits particularly for small farmers. The method was first
developed by ICARDA in Syria in the 1990's and forms the basis of
the Zaghouan 4 rotation in Tunisia. Its potential in the WANA region is
considerable.

The parcour or rough grazing land occupies more than half of the cereal
zone in the WANA region. Pasture establishment using medic seed has been
difficult but pods may be a better option.

Grazing the green medic is vital to make a profit from the pasture, to control
weeds and to produce ample supplies of pods for future years. Farmers in the WANA region have developed innovations that take their grazing
management to higher levels of efficiency than those achieved in Australia.

Pods provide a valuable feed supply in summer and are needed for
regeneration. Farmers must find a balance between feeding their sheep and the regeneration of the pasture.

Measuring the pods on the ground is an important part of grazing management. We have made it a separate topic so it can be printed and used as an extension guide for farmers.

The medic pasture has completed its first year. The pasture regenerates with
the autumn rains. Farmers must decide whether to cultivate the land for
cereals (the classic medic - cereal rotation) or leave it for another year or
more. The options are discussed.

Making hay from medic is not as simple as it may seem. This chapter
discusses the options and innovative rotations for medic hay production.

Turning the medic pasture into livestock profits is the objective. This chapter shows how live-weights of sheep are increased, death rates reduced and lambing percentages increased. The new flock structure is more efficient and produces greater returns.

A check list of possible failures and what to do about them.

Better cereal yields and lower cost production

CHAPTER HEADING

SUMMARY

This is a practical guide to the use of shallow cultivation for seed bed
preparation and seeding. Shallow cultivation is essential for cereals after
medic in order to ensure regeneration. It is a low cost means of seeding
for cereal, grain legumes and vetches.

This chapter provides the economic justification for shallow cultivation.

Deep plough and cultivation is entrenched in the WANA region. The
technology is wasteful and costly.

This is an overview of deep ploughing and shallow cultivation.

Once the decision has been made to use shallow cultivation it is absolutely
essential to have the proper implements. These are simple and cheap. Their basic design principles are described.

Cultivation, hay production and rotations are the main methods of
controlling weeds in the WANA region. Herbicides have a role. Practical
problems are discussed.

The response of cereals to nitrogen fertiliser in the WANA region is erratic. This is explained and strategies developed to overcome the problem. Phosphate placement can also increase yield responses.

Mechanical harvesting is the main method of harvesting cereals in the
WANA region. The machines imported from Europe and North America
perform badly as they are designed for high yielding, damp crops.
Australian adaptions will improve efficiency in low to medium yielding
crops with short, brittle straw.

Even a modified harvester will not work efficiently on small farms, around
olive trees and with many types of cereal crops. The stripper is a genuine small scale machine suited to these conditions.

Using shallow cultivation will often require more weight on tractors. Why
and how?

Small farmers often employ contractors to carry out cultivation, seeding and
harvesting. This is expensive and various forms of group ownership provide
a low-cost alternative.

 

FARMER TRAINING KITS 
 
 

    These training kits are based on a series of film strips published by FAO. They have been revised. The original filmstrips are no longer available from FAO.

FAO also published a booklet which contained a black and white print of each colour photo and a caption. The booklet was available in English, French and Arabic.

While the booklets are also out of print it is possible to obtain photocopies from the FAO publishing section which may be of assistance to translators.

Training Kit No. 1. WHY GROW MEDIC?

Number of photos

Description

Suggested means of distribution.

Photos No 1 to 5   Go to Kit No 1.1

The failure of the fallow cereal rotation to provide adequate feed for sheep in winter and spring.

These are useful flip charts for extension agents.

Photos No 6 to 12  Go to Kit No 1.2

Medic as an alternative. More feed. Heavier sheep. Regeneration. Low cost cereals. 

These are useful flip charts for extension agents.

Photos No 13 to 23 Go to Kit No 1.3

What is medic? Where does it grow?

These are useful flip charts for extension agents.

Photos No 24 to 33 Go to Kit No 1.4

Getting started with medic

These are useful flip charts for extension agents.

Photos No 34 to 42 Go to Kit No 1.5

Shallow cultivation for the cereal crop

These are useful flip charts for extension agents.

Photos No 43 to 55 Go to Kit No 1.6

Better soil structure and less erosion with medic pasture.

These are useful flip charts for extension agents.


Training Kit No. 2.

ESTABLISHING A MEDIC PASTURE USING SEED

Number of photos

Description

Suggested means of distribution.

No 1 to 5  -   Go to No 2.1

A short summary of the "Why Grow Medic?" kit.

Useful points for discussion but duplicates earlier material.

No 6 to 13     Go to No 2.2

The resources needed to sow a medic pasture using seed.

These points can be discussed with farmers. Printing the photos is probably not necessary.

No 14 to 35   Go to No 2.3

The preparation of the land and sowing of the medic seed.

There are many practical techniques demonstrated. These photos could be printed in the form of a small booklet "How to sow medic?" or alternatively larger prints could be used as a flip chart.

 

Training Kit No. 3.

HOW DO YOU GRAZE MEDIC PASTURE?

Number of photos

Description

Suggested means of distribution

No 1 to 29  Go to No 3.1

A guide to grazing medic in the first season.

This is a useful starting point for grazing medic pasture. These photos could be printed as a booklet or as a flip chart.

No 30 to 43  Go to No 3.2

A quick summary of grazing medic pasture.

No 43 to 51 Go to No 3.3

MEASURING MEDIC PODS IN SUMMER
These eight photos explain how to count medic pods using a sampling disc. The same disc method can be used to count seedlings in a new medic pasture. It can also be used to measure grain loss behind the cereal harvester.

This photos guide is essential for many purposes in the medic system. It can be printed as a fact sheet on a few pages or a poster for display.

No 52 to 55 Go to No 3.4

REGENERATION AND HARD SEED
These photos explain the regeneration of medic from hard seed.

Can be printed as a fact sheet or poster.


Training Kit No 4

CEREALS AND MEDIC IN ROTATION

Number of photos

Description

Suggested means of distribution

No 1 to 7  Go to No 4.1

Cereals and medic in rotation. The basic implements needed for shallow cultivation are described.

These photos make a good back up to the 
Buyers' guide to scarifiers

No 8 to 17 Go to No 4.2

Preparing the seedbed for cereals.

These are useful flip charts for extension agents.

No 18 to 26 Go to No 4.3

Sowing the cereals and fertiliser. 

These are useful flip charts for extension agents.

No 27 to 30 Go to No 4.4

The dangers of deep ploughing a medic pasture.

These are useful flip charts for extension agents.

No 31 to 43  Go to No 4.5

Managing the cereal crop.

These are useful flip charts for extension agents.