Diversified crops (oil crops specifically important for rain-fed fields)

Published: 22 January 2020
Last edited: 22 January 2020

Planting different annual crops in a particular order over several years on the same field, also known as crop rotation helps to ensure long-term soil sustainability as the crops have different requirements in terms of nutrients. This prevents the accumulation and propagation of soil-borne diseases and pests. In Tajikistan, many farmers prefer cultivating the same cash crops, e.g. cereals in rain-fed areas, instead of applying crop rotation as in short-term this produces more income. In order to avoid the long-term negative effects, oil crops (flax, sunflower, and safflower) and pulses (chickpeas, green peas, and lentils) can be used to promote crop rotation and diversification. Pulses fix nitrogen and thus improve soil fertility. Crop rotation can be combined with the no-tillage practice for having an even better effect.  

An example of a three-year rotation could be:

-  Year 1. Cereal crop, e.g. winter wheat

-  Year 2. Legumes, e.g. lentil, chickpea

-  Year 3. Oil crop, e.g. safflower 

Rotation of annual crops with perennial fodder plants as alfalfa or esparcet may also be considered, as these have a very positive effect on soil fertility.

Classifications

Category
Education, training and other capacity development activities
Scale of implementation
Local
Subnational

Enabling factors

  • Many farmers noticed that their harvest is decreasing and infestation by pests and diseases increased in their rainfed fields if they are continuously cultivating cereals and therefore are eager to try crop rotation.
  • Oil crops and legumes attract pollinators, improve family diets and are marketable.
  • Some species of oil crops and legumes as safflower and lentils need only a little water for growth and are resistant to high temperature, therefore they are resilient to climate change

Lessons learned

  • Special machinery should be available for cultivating alternative rainfed annual cops, e.g. single axle tractors with sickle bar for harvesting oil crops as safflower
  • In case of oil crops which have to be processed as safflower it is necessary to produce a certain amount of harvest so that transportation to a mill is worth it.