Healthy barley despite drought under conservation agriculture
Barley on long-term conservation agriculture (CA) trial plot D5 at CIMMYT's headquarters, El Batán, Mexico, being grown in rotation with beans, under zero tillage on permanent beds, with retention of wheat/barley residues and removal of bean residues for fodder.
The plants are relatively uniform and healthy, in spite of the serious drought Mexico suffered in 2009, with a period of 40 days without rain following planting. All crops were affected to some degree, but those under CA were much more resistant. CIMMYT's long term trials consistently demonstrate that the combination of the three key elements of CA - zero tillage, residue retention, and crop rotation - gives the healthiest crops and the best yields, but this effect is particularly marked under drought conditions, where CA practices have clear advantages in retaining soil moisture and mitigating the effects of drought.
Barley was planted on D5 instead of wheat in 2009 because very little wheat is grown in the area of central Mexico around El Batán, whereas barley is grown for beer production, so it is of more interest to visiting local farmers.
Photo taken on 13 August 2009.
Photo credit: CIMMYT.