"Fodder production demo village - reactivation of non-cultivated arable lands" project courses
At the end of 2022, with support of GIZ, we started the "Fodder production demo village - reactivation of non-cultivated arable lands" project in the Balak settlement of the Sisian consolidated community, Syunik Marz.
The project aims to use effective replicable methods to rehabilitate natural fodder areas and decrease pressure on pastures by cultivating non-used arable lands for fodder production. It will also ensure sustainability by using high-value local varieties of seeds for fodder production and providing agrobiodiversity conservation, climate adaptation, and income. The project will include complex pilot areas using different methodologies for improvement. Overall, 123 ha of land will be rehabilitated and improved in the community, from which 20 ha are pastures, 20 ha are hay meadows, and 83 ha are arable lands.
Within the framework of the project, during the months of February-April, the agronomists of "Shen" NGO carried out a multi-content intensive training program for the members of the "Balak Community Pasture Users Association" cooperative and the new regional agronomist.
Seed production of barley, sainfoin, and alfalfa in seed fields
Quality seed is essential in improving natural habitats, rehabilitating uncultivated arable land, and providing high-quality fodder to livestock farms.
On February 24, during the course discussion "Seed production of barley, sainfoin, alfalfa in seed fields," we presented to the members of the "Balak Community Pasture Users Association" the features of cultivation of seed fields, the steps of organizing seed cultivation of barley, sainfoin, and alfalfa. The cooperative members were mainly interested in pre-sowing soil cultivation, fertilization, sowing rate, seed requirements, and disinfection.
Training of the Regional Agronomist
On March 1, the new regional agronomist underwent training in the technology of improving arable land and pastures in the head office of "Shen" NGO. We presented to him the technologies offered by the project regarding the cultivation of arable land, sainfoin, alfalfa, and barley, as well as the technology of improving pastures.
Description of arable land, pasture, and grassland improvement technology
On March 3, at the course "Description of arable land, pasture, and grassland improvement technology," the members of the cooperative got acquainted with the technologies of experimental sowing of alfalfa, sainfoin, and barley offered within the framework of the project, as well as the technology of improvement of pastures and grasslands. In this course, the main questions were related to the use of tillage, in-sow fertilization, seed disinfection, normal foliar seed nutrition, and weed control.
Use of modern agricultural machinery, tillers, and other implements in sowing and harvesting grain crops
On March 30, the course "Use of modern agricultural machinery, tillers, and other implements in sowing and harvesting grain crops" was held. Our agronomists presented the characteristics and work features of the modern agricultural equipment and tillers to the cooperative members.
Within the framework of the project, for the first time in the Balak settlement, the use of tillers and other implements was presented in the process of improving the sowing and planting of grain crops. Through an economic calculation, the agronomists showed that using such techniques increases the quality of grain crop cultivation and reduces costs. In the second part of the course, we showed the participants the work of the tiller in the field.
Varietal composition of provided seeds of barley, sainfoin, alfalfa, and their cultivation features
On April 6, a course discussion was organized for the cooperative members, "Varietal composition of provided seeds of barley, sainfoin, alfalfa, and their cultivation features."
This time, we invited researcher A. Harutyunyan from "Gyumri Breeding Station" CJSC as a trainer. He presented to the participants the features of the cultivation of "Sisian local" sainfoin, "Nutans 115" spring barley, and "Aparan local" alfalfa varieties obtained from the "Gyumri Breeding Station" for seed production. The cooperative members also got acquainted with the peculiarities of cultivating seed fields. The trainer emphasized seed production's requirements and agrotechnical features: pre-sowing soil cultivation, fertilization, sowing rate, conditions for seeds, and seed disinfection.
This was a unique training as the farmers received highly professional knowledge and skills in the seed production process. In fact, the cooperative members were trained as seed producers as a result of this training.
It is noteworthy that both men and women participated in all the mentioned courses among the members of the "Balak Community Pasture Users Union" cooperative. They actively asked our trainers-specialists their questions and received detailed answers. At the end of all the courses, the participants received informative materials corresponding to the topics.