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Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (2012)

IMPROVING CROP PRODUCTION BY FIELD MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES USING CROP WATER PRODUCTIVITY MODELING : CASE STUDY OF TEF (Eragrostis tef (Zucc.) Trotter) PRODUCTION IN TIGRAY, ETHIOPIA

TSEGAY Alemtsehay

Titre : IMPROVING CROP PRODUCTION BY FIELD MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES USING CROP WATER PRODUCTIVITY MODELING : CASE STUDY OF TEF (Eragrostis tef (Zucc.) Trotter) PRODUCTION IN TIGRAY, ETHIOPIA

Auteur : TSEGAY Alemtsehay

Université de soutenance : Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2012

Présentation
Increasing food production to feed the fast growing world population particularly in developing countries relies on two options : either increase the arable land or improve the productivity of the existing cultivated land. This research focuses on the highly populated highlands of Tigray (northern Ethiopia), where improving the productivity of land is the only option for sustainable food production. In the drought-prone and highly degraded highlands of Tigray, rainfed cereal production is restricted by low and highly variable rainfall with common occurrence of dry spells during the cropping season on the one hand, and low levels of soil fertility on the other hand. Water saving techniques and applying inorganic fertilizers to intensify the staple food production are essential to maximize the productivity of the land. Elaborated strategies developed by crop growth models can be used for designing and better understanding the impact of the aforementioned strategies.
In this study the water productivity model AquaCrop, developed by FAO, was used as a tool to test different field management strategies for improving productivity of tef under the local environmental conditions in the highlands of Tigray. The model estimates yield by relating crop transpiration with biomass and yield production and allows the users to simulate yield under various conditions.
Tef (Eragrostis tef (Zucc.) Trotter) is an endemic cereal crop and staple diet in Ethiopia. It is highly preferred by the farmers not only in view of its adaptability to a wide range of environmental conditions but also for its high market value of both grain and crop residue (straw). However, low productivity is often reported mainly due to water and fertility stress.
Considering this context, a research project was designed with field experiments in Randomized Complete Block Design (RCBD) with split plot arrangement, conducted in 2008, 2009 and 2010 at two sites located in the south-east and east of Tigray in two soil types. Five levels of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) fertilizers (no input, 50%, 75%, 100% and 150% of the recommended doses) were applied to both rainfed and irrigated plots.

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