Climate-Smart Crop Models

Climate-smart crop models adapted to the environmental, social and economic conditions in the BSB region

AGREEN project applies the method “Crop Modeling” to experiment with endemic crops, adapted to specific environmental, social and economic conditions in the Black Sea region. To that end 3 of the project partners have developed 6 climate-smart crop models for different crops to be tested on plots in Bulgaria, Turkey and Georgia.  The purpose of this experiment is to provide the 6 climate-smart crop models to farmers,  professionals and other stakeholders in order to demonstrate the opportunities to rely on endemic sorts to adapt to climate change and still secure marketable produce and to promote the benefits of the conservation and sustainable agriculture in the Black Sea region.

Below are published the research reports that will be experimented under the AGREEN project in order to suggest practical solutions for making agriculture more efficient and productive while reducing its negative impact on the environment.

GROWING TRITICALE NO-TILL VS. CONVENTIONAL GROWING

TRITICALE EXPERIMENT NO-TILL VS. CONVENTIONAL GROWING (BULGARIA)

Under constantly changing climate and locally specific meteorological conditions, the proper choice of a crop that would express resistant nature in a variety of locations is of key importance for optimal productivity and economic efficiency. At the same time, the ever-growing population increases the demand for high-quality food and forage resources.

In this respect, one way of achieving highly efficient production is to grow crops, which, on the one hand, have various applications as resources, and are, on the other hand, resistant to a wide range of stress factors and need comparatively low input of energy, plant protection products and fertilizers. One such plant that can completely meet these requirements is triticale.

Triticale is the first cereal crop that is entirely the product of human activity. Although the initial idea was to develop a hybrid between wheat and rye, at the contemporary stage of the crop development, triticale can be described as a separate biological species possessing traits entirely different from its initial parental forms. The modern hexaploid triticale cultivars are characterized by exceptionally high productivity of grain, which can reach over 1200 kg/da. Such figures are significantly higher than the yield from common winter wheat and come close to the yields obtained from maize. Since these yields are obtained with considerably lower input than in wheat and maize, this is an indication of the high production efficiency of triticale as a cultivated plant. However, triticale is of limited production in modern agriculture. This crop is not traditional neither for Bulgaria nor for Dobrudzha region in spite of its good food and forage properties. Triticale remains a crop neglected by the farmers and the processors of raw materials since the consumer demands are low and its marketing as a grain resource is underdeveloped.

GROWING OKRA IN ORGANIC AGRICULTURE SYSTEM

OKRA EXPERIMENT GREENHOUSE GROWING VS. GROWING UNDER FIELD CONDITIONS (BULGARIA)

Okra is among the most ancient cultural vegetable plants, that has been grown on the territory of Egypt 2000 years B.C. Presumably, the crop has been introduced in Bulgaria from Asia Minor, and its production is nowadays traditional for the country, though it is limited exclusively and only to private gardens. The large-scale production of okra for the market is rather limited and is concentrated only in the southern regions. On the territory of Dobrudzha, the growing of okra as an industrial crop has no traditions.

One of the main reasons for this is the lack of irrigation systems and the comparatively dry climate in comparison to the other regions. At the same time, the conditions of North Bulgaria are characterized by lower temperatures until considerably later in spring (the beginning of May), which is also a limiting factor for the distribution of the crop due to its high requirements for temperature.

Nevertheless, okra is widespread in backyards and gardens all over the country, including Dobrudzha region, as a vegetable plant of secondary importance. Usually 10 to 20 plants are grown, which are sufficient to meet the demands of a single household. A tendency is observed, however, of using okra of non-local origin to prepare home-made preserves and for food in restaurants and catering establishments. This is an opportunity to develop a local market for this crop, provided that it can be successfully grown in industrial fields on the territory of Dobrudzha.

WALNUT GROWING UNDER DIFFERENT IRRIGATION CONDITIONS

WALNUT EXPERIMENT GROWING UNDER DIFFERENT IRRIGATION WATER CONDITIONS (TURKEY)

Water, which covers a large part of the earth, has an indispensable importance for living things. However, only a small part of the water resources is usable. Unfortunately, the amount and quality of existing limited clean water resources are decreasing day by day due to population growth, rapid urbanization and rising living standards, agricultural practices based on heavy fertilizer and pesticide use, industrial activities and climate change.

In order to protect natural resources, the use of optimum soil and water resources has become mandatory. In the studies carried out, it is expected that the temperature will increase as a result of global warming, the precipitation will decrease, and therefore decrease in agricultural production. As a result of this situation, it is necessary to make optimal use of existing production facilities for a sustainable production.

World walnut production is spread over an area of 1.1 million hectares as of 2018. 3.6 million tons of walnuts are produced on this area. Turkey, which has a highly variable climate and a rich fruit growing culture, has a very important place in walnuts, as in most fruit species.

In this study, it is planned to carry out irrigation trials on walnut tree in order to protect water resources and maximize efficiency.

SUNFLOWER GROWING UNDER SUPPLEMENTAL IRRIGATION APPLICATIONS

SUPPLEMENTAL IRRIGATION APPLICATIONS IN SUNFLOWER GROWING (TURKEY)

The sector where the effects of climate change will be seen the most is expressed as the agricultural sector. It is expected that there will be decreases in plant production in both rain-related and irrigated agricultural areas. It is necessary to change the way of production and to organize more productive systems for the effective use of water resources that are decreasing with the effect of increasing population and climate change. The decrease in the yield of plants that have strategic importance for our country, such as sunflower, under the influence of climate change, can only be eliminated by drought-resistant varieties, soil moisture preservation methods and irrigation activities. In the studies carried out, it is expected that the temperature will increase as a result of global warming, the precipitation will decrease, and therefore decrease in agricultural production. In this case, it is thought that it will have a restrictive effect, especially in the production of summer products. Climate change brings with it an increase in the current irrigation water requirement. As a result of this situation, it is necessary to make optimal use of existing production facilities for a sustainable production.

Sunflower is a field plant with good adaptability, can be grown in rainfed conditions, and higher yield and quality can be achieved if irrigated conditions are provided. Although the growing conditions of sunflower are relatively low, it is one of the most preferred oil plants due to its high oil content.  The inability to provide sufficient production against the demand experienced in sunflower oil reveals that some inputs and techniques are not used adequately in production.

It is known that large increases in yield can be achieved with conscious irrigation for sunflowers produced in summer in regions with low rainfall. In this research, it is aimed to maximize the yield with minimum irrigation water in the sunflower plant, which is widely grown in our region, but we are dependent on foreign sources, especially due to insufficient production in oil production.

SYNTROPIC AGRICULTURE

CROP MODELLING FOR SYNTROPIC FARMING (GEORGIA)

The effects of climate change highly challenge the productivity of the agricultural sector. In this respect the stallholders are the most affected. They are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change — decreased yields threaten their livelihoods. There is an urgent need to identify approaches which strengthen development efforts and enhance the adaptive capacity of farmers.

Suggested model of syntropic farming is a model that enables farmers to withstand climate change impacts and produce more for own food security and additional income. The Syntropic farming is a type of regenerative agriculture developed by Ernst Götsch (Switzerland) in Brazil. Through understanding of complex systems of the nature the Syntropic agriculture imitates natural regeneration of forests, enabling people to create dynamic and economically viable ecosystems that restore degraded soil biodiversity, while also integrating them with productive agricultural systems. This is an agroforestry approach designed to mimic a forest: first of all, like in a forest, plants are densely placed to maximize both horizontal and vertical space, which enables the system to capture the sun’s energy in a best possible way.

The syntropic farming gives possibility to produce food and/or cash crops, and therefore is a good model for smallholder farmers. For example, they can grow fruits as cash crop and grow stable plants between the fruit trees for food security. In addition, the syntropic farming helps to rehabilitate and regenerate the land. The positive results of syntropic farming are the following: healthy soil, profitable harvests, carbon sequestration, efficient land use, diverse farming, increased resources, ecosystem regeneration, low dependency on external inputs (including irrigation), and increased financial returns.

ORGANIC WHEAT GROWING MODEL

ORGANIC WHEAT GROWING MODEL (GEORGIA)

The effects of climate change — global warming, intense periods of heavy rain and longer dry periods, highly challenge the productivity of the agricultural sector. Farmers and farm communities around the world experience frequent loses due to altered meteorological conditions, floods, droughts, as well as weed and pests’ outbreaks brought about by the climate change. Farmers need to choose crop varieties well adapt to local conditions and resistant to drastic environmental changes.

Organic production system in combination with use of heritage wheat species can be a solution for stable harvests and food security for smallholder farmers from dry areas affected by the climate change. The model proposes use of cover crop — an ancient well-known method, in order to suppress weeds, reduce water consumption and increase soil nitrogen.

According to the model, it is planned to sow clover as a cover crop in the fields with cereals, in particular, heritage wheat. The aboriginal variety of autumn soft wheat — “Akhaltsikis Tsiteli (red) Doli” and endemic species of spring wheat — “Dika” are selected for this model. These ancient wheat species are known for their high nutritive qualities; they are highly adapted to local soils and changing weather conditions, are resistant to pests and disease and give stable harvests in low input systems and, therefore, have a potential to significantly contribute to food security of smallholders.

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