Multimedia

Water resources management of agro-ecosystems in the South Caucasus transboundary regions

Chapters :

Background

The transboundary region of the South Caucasus countries includes Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The population is represented by different religious and ethnic groups, which have agriculture as their main source of income. This region is located in arid and semiarid climatic zones, and therefore, the availability of water resources determines productivity. Due to the intensification of agricultural production, there is also an increased demand for water, which in turn has resulted in a series of local problems. The traditional methods used for surface irrigation have promoted the development of gullies and narrow ravines, causing extensive surface erosion. In addition, they have also caused secondary bogging and salinization. There is, therefore, a need for a radical change of the local situation, which can only be achieved by the introduction of state-of-the-art technologies for the management of agricultural crops.

The main objectives of this project

  • The development of a demonstration farm for evaluation of state-of-the-art irrigation water distribution techniques.

  • The development of scientific techniques for estimating water use of agricultural crops based on local weather conditions and the hydrophysical characteristics.
  • The creation of the South Caucasus Scientific Research, Information and Extension Center entitled “Water-Crop Security and Sustainability” for dissemination of the state-of-the-art irrigation scheduling technologies to stakeholders and end users in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The overall goal of this project is to enhance and improve the social and economic, demographic, ecological, and political security of the South Caucasus Transboundary region of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia using modern scientific and state-of-the-art technological innovation that will improve the long-term sustainability of irrigated agricultural production systems.

What is being done

As a result of this  NATO project, the following has been achieved:

  • Development of demonstration plots with drip irrigation in farmers’ field in Marneuli, Georgia. Drip irrigation resulted in yields that were 4 to 5 times higher than the yield of crops obtained under traditional irrigation. Furthermore, drip irrigation resulted in water savings up to 4 to 5 times compared to traditional irrigation.

  • Successful production of various agricultural crops, including tomato, bell pepper, eggplant, mini-corn, beet and onion. Farmer has received earliest yield (carrots and sugar beets) comparing with the whole region. The growing season on the plots, where drip irrigation and mulching were installed, was extended by 15 days.

  • Estimation of potential evapotranspiration for irrigation scheduling. Soil sensors have been installed for determination of soil humidity and temperature, in combination with monitoring of meteorological conditions. Based on evapotranspiration, crop coefficients and evaporation using the Blaney-Criddle method, the daily water requirement for each crop was calculated and a “Water-Crop” mathematical model has been evaluated.

More than 200 people visited the demonstration site in Merneuli. Based on discussion with the supplier of the drip irrigation system, there has been an increased interest by local producers to purchase drip irrigation systems for their farms as well as in purchasing the improved varieties that were used in the experiment.

The project was also featured in Euronews entitled “The Fruits of Peace”. For further information use the following link:
www.euronews.net/2011/01/27/the-fruits-of-peace/