Deep plowing of soil for sowing legumes and cereal crops has traditionally been used in rainfed areas of Kamashi district, Kashqadarya Region of Uzbekistan. In the fall of 2014, Knowledge Management in CACILM II project set up a demonstration plot on 3 hectares of Abror Shoymurodov’s farm in a rainfed land in Navruz village to test the technology package on conservation agriculture and cultivation of winter wheat and winter chickpea using a direct-sowing seeder. The main type of farming activity of the 27-year-old’s family of six is livestock breeding. They gain additional income from cultivating cotton and cereal crops.
Chickpea has been cultivated in Uzbekistan since old times. However, cultivation of winter chickpea is a new practice, which became possible as a result of research and field works that identified cold-resistant varieties suitable for arid lands.
Previously, Shoymurodov used to cultivate chickpea using traditional technologies. “At first, we'd plow the soil, and in March, depending on weather conditions, we’d seed the peas,” he says. By mid-April, peas would sprout, but because of hot weather and lack of rain in Kashkadarya, the crop wouldn’t receive enough moisture, which is why harvest was poor.
In November 2014, he was introduced to no-till technology and planted 20 kg of winter chickpea seeds provided by CACILM II on 0.3 hectares of land using direct sowing at the depth of 7-8 cm. By February, peas sprouted, having survived cold winter, and produced over 210 kg of yield, which is notably more compared to traditionally sowed crops.
Winter chickpea is suitable to climatic conditions of Kashkadarya province and ripens by the time to cultivate the following crops, providing farmers with possibility to use the land more than once a year and increasing their income. “Using the traditional method, we were unaware of this opportunity, since chickpea used to mature late, and sowing other plants would be carried out in the following year only,” Abror notes.
Chickpea is an excellent precursor for most agricultural crops. Yields of winter wheat after chickpea increase like they would from a fallow field, given the main conditions are ensured: the level of development of nodules of bacteria, required moisture and soil aeration.
Additionally, winter chickpea enriches soil with nitrogen by accumulating it. Therefore, soil fertility increases and the crop yield increases significantly.
“Winter chickpea, unlike ordinary pea, has a strong root system, which is important for further survival of the crop,” says Tolib Berdiyev, fellow researcher of Uzbek Soil Science and Agrochemistry Institute in Tashkent. “In addition, two seedlings grow from one seed, which results in double yield.”
It perfectly winters with late-autumn sowing maintaining short-term drop in temperature to minus 25 degrees Celsius. After thawing, spring sprouts withstand snow and freezing down to minus 16. Adult plant does not die at minus 8.
One year later, in November 2015, Abror continued his experiment with chickpea and increased the area to 2 hectares to cultivate the crop, planting over 120 kg of seeds. Despite the difficulties with direct seeder, and heavy precipitation in spring, which caused intensive growth of insects and weeds, the farmer was able to collect over 1 ton of harvest, or 8 centners per hectare. He plans to use part of his yield to plant more hectares next season and sell the other part for seeding to farmers in the region.
Acting as an information repository and knowledge hub, this website helps to increase the use of innovations developed by the well-established CACILM Project in Central Asia. Its synthesis, compilation, and dissemination of current research provide a secure knowledge base that policymakers and other stakeholders can access and utilize to develop sustainable strategies capable of addressing the region’s severe land degradation.