Simulating Crop Productivity in a Triple Rotation in the Semi-arid Area of the Aral Sea Basin

Abstract

Farmers face increased risks and vulnerability to the effects of climate change and land degradation on crop production due to the lack of information and impact assessment. This is especially true in the Khorezm, an irrigated agricultural region near the Aral Sea Basin (Uzbekistan) which represents eight million of irrigated land in Central Asia. Water scarcity requires research and introduction of alternative crops into a common winter wheat–cotton rotation. Mung bean (Vigna radiata) is considered as a drought-tolerant crop that could be implemented in Khorezm and other similar drought prone areas. The main objective of this study was modeling the triple rotation sequenced the winter wheat (WW), summer mung bean (MB) and cotton (C) as a single cropping system. Specific objectives were to (1) update the parameterization of the irrigated winter wheat and cotton modules in CropSyst to identify the key variables impacting the triple rotation (WW–MB–C) on overall crop yield; (2) to parameterize and validate the developed (CropSyst-based) model using controlled triple rotation data and (3) carry out scenario analyses to capture the influence of soil fertility levels and irrigation water shortage on crops growth, development and yields. The results revealed, for the first time, the impact of different soil-ecological factors such as high soil fertility (HSF) and low soil fertility (LSF) varying levels of irrigation water availability on crops in the triple crop rotation. Compared to LSF simulated yields of winter wheat and cotton under HSF were increased with 0.58 Mg ha−1 for WW grain and 0.21 Mg ha−1 for cotton while mung bean grain yields were not affected by different soil fertility levels. Scenario analyses showed the possibility of reduced (by 20%) irrigation for triple crop without the effect on yield. However, compared to full irrigation scenario, reduction of irrigation for 40 and 60% could decrease the rotation crops yields up to 33% and 40%, respectively. The developed model could be useful to increase the understanding of the nexus of food, energy and water in Khorezm and comparable regions of Central Asia, and to inform decision-making about sustainable use of available water resources.

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Acknowledgements

The German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF; Project Number 0339970A) and the Ministry for Schools, Science and Research of the State of Nordrhein-Westfalia funded this study. Model calibration for treble crop rotation was undertaken as part of and funded by, the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems led by the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and with financial contribution from Russian Federation. The opinions expressed here belong to the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Dryland Systems, ICARDA, or CGIAR. We would like to thank Dr. Jacek A. Koziel for his valuable comments on the manuscript. This paper includes research results made possible by the ZEF/UNESCO project entitled: Economic and Ecological Restructuring of Land- and Water Use in the Khorezm Region, Uzbekistan.

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Correspondence to Nazar Ibragimov.

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Ibragimov, N., Djumaniyazova, Y., Khaitbaeva, J. et al. Simulating Crop Productivity in a Triple Rotation in the Semi-arid Area of the Aral Sea Basin. Int. J. Plant Prod. 14, 273–285 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42106-019-00083-3

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Keywords

  • CropSyst
  • Water scarcity
  • Wheat–mungbean–cotton rotation
  • Climate change