HABEN ASGEDOM1, MATHIAS BECKER2, FRANCIS TURKELBOOM1
1International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), NRMP, Syria
2University of Bonn, Plant Nutrition in the Tropics and Subtropics, Germany
The Khanasser valley is located at the border of the agricultural area and the steppe of Northern Syria. It serves as a benchmark site for an integrated research in the dry areas in Western Asia and Northern Africa, conducted by ICARDA, BMZ/GTZ and the University of Bonn. Low soil fertility (pH > 8.3, P < 4.1 mg kg-1 Oslen, Zn < 0.5 mg kg-1), inadequate rainfall (200-250 mm), monocropping, high weed infestation, and emerging land shortages limit the widespread production of rainfed barley as animal feed (sheep fattening) in the valley bottoms at low external input use. In 2004 we studied the interactions among soil moisture, nutrients availability, and natural resources management practices on barley production in relation to land use and physical characteristics of the valley slopes.
The dynamics of soil moisture (TDR) and nutrient availability (ion exchange resins) in barley plots were monitored as a function of the distance from the slope (10, 25, 100 and 200 meters). Partial nutrient flows in the farming system (crop, household and animal husbandry) were analysed using PLAR approaches (Participatory learning and action research - a kit for resource flow as an investigation tool). Finally, the effect of low-input nutrient management options (seed priming with water P/Zn; mineral P application at 60kg ha-1 and the use of animal manure at 2 t ha-1) on nutrient balances and barley performance were evaluated at field level. The effectiveness of technical options will be assessed in relation to physical characteristics of the valley and socio-economic determinants of the households.
Keywords: Hordeum vulgare, nutrient management, phosphorus, seed priming, zinc