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Accueil du site → Master → Israel → Yields of wheat and barely land-races in the Negev highlands in relation to sheep manure and Bedouin kitchen ash : evaluating ancient desert agro-ecosystems

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (2017)

Yields of wheat and barely land-races in the Negev highlands in relation to sheep manure and Bedouin kitchen ash : evaluating ancient desert agro-ecosystems

Van der Roest, Danielle Rebekka Miriam

Titre : Yields of wheat and barely land-races in the Negev highlands in relation to sheep manure and Bedouin kitchen ash : evaluating ancient desert agro-ecosystems

Auteur : Van der Roest, Danielle Rebekka Miriam

Etablissement de soutenance : Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Grade : Master of Science (MS) 2017

Résumé partiel
The landscape of the central Negev Highlands is characterized by many remains of ancient agricultural systems that utilized runoff/floodwater to irrigate terraced fields situated in valleys to enable farming in the desert. Investigations of such ancient agricultural terraced fields at Horvat Haluqim show that in the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age, people did manure these fields with kitchen refuse (plant ash) and animal dung. The hypothesis was that the combination of animal dung and kitchen plant ash may have been the most beneficial fertilizer combination for the growth of cereal grains in ancient times in the runoff/floodwater capturing terraced fields of the central Negev Highlands.

The objective was to investigate the effect of sheep dung and plant ash, derived from Bedouin cooking fires, on the growth and yield of wheat and barley. The study focused on two wheat varieties (Triticum Aestivum spp.) and one barley variety (Hordeum Distichum), which have been grown by Bedouin for decades in the central Negev Highlands in ancient terraced wadi fields that receive runoff/floodwater. The elemental composition of the cereal grains was determined and particularly the stable isotope values of Nitrogen 15 (δ 15N) as important instrumental data for comparison between the various fertilizer treatments and also to compare between selected terraced fields farmed by Bedouin.

The three cereal varieties were sown in pot experiments during the growing season 2014-2015, placed inside a greenhouse. Four different fertilizer treatments were used : (1) no fertilizer, (2) sheep dung, (3) Bedouin kitchen ash, and (4) a mix of both sheep dung and Bedouin kitchen ash. In addition, the same cereal varieties were also collected from the ancient terraced wadi fields of the Nahal Divshon area, farmed today by Bedouin. The Bedouin family using these fields applied neither fertilizers to the soil nor pesticides. The fields received runoff/floodwater from the surrounding natural catchment area, without additional irrigation. Several yield characteristics were measured for both the pot experiments and the terraced wadi fields. The isotopic composition δ 15N of the selected samples of cereal grains was determined and concentration of elements was measured by ICP-MS.

The addition of Bedouin kitchen ash had a significant beneficial effect on the number of grains per plant, and on the mass and dimensions of the grains. The addition of sheep dung showed a beneficial effect on the dry mass of the plant, the amount of ears and the amount of grains. On the other hand, the addition of dung resulted in the smallest grains and the lowest grain mass. The mixed fertilization resulted in the fewest number of grains per plant for both wheat varieties and the second fewest number of grains for barley ; it produced the largest grains in all dimensions and the highest grain mass. The addition of sheep dung to the soil had a clear tendency to increase the δ 15N values of the grains. Interestingly, the treatment with only Bedouin kitchen ash resulted consistently in rather low δ 15N values of grains than without any fertilizer treatment. The combination of ash and dung showed an irregular impact on the δ 15N values of grains. Variation in δ 15N values was not related to differences in grain size. This study showed that stable isotope analysis of nitrogen is reliable for the detection of sheep dung application to the cultivated fields, but not for ash fertilization.

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Page publiée le 21 décembre 2022