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Rehabilitation of abandoned crop land by sowing legume-grass mixtures

Since 1958, more than 2 million hectare of pastureland were ploughed for crop production in Mongolia. After 1990 when Mongolia shifted to market economy about 1,4 million hectare of that crop land were abandoned. Rehabilitation of abandoned crop land would be important an ecologically (prevention of erosion) and economically (production of forage). However self-restoration of abandoned crop land is too limited under the harsh climatic conditions of Mongolia.
The objective of this study was to develop a technology to introduce perennial grasses and legumes into abandoned cropland to gain additional pasture land for the production of fodder and to reduce soil degradation due to wind (and water) erosion.

From 2006 to 2008, in two ecological zones (forest steppe and steppe) performed the field experiments on rehabilitation of abandoned crop land were carried out. Legume-grass mixtures (Medicago varia, Elymus dahuricus, Agropyron mongolicum, Stipa sibirica) were sown with different types of seeders after different treatments of soil cultivation and weed control. Field germination and spring re-growth of the sown perennials and weed biomass were measured.
The highest germination rates were recorded from sowing method with the Russian SKP-2.1 seeder probably due to the reduction of competition from weeds as a result of cutting roots at 5 cm below ground.
In the second year after sowing, some seedling survived in the area sown by the Russian SKP-2,1 seeder while no survivors were counted in the area sown by John Deere.
None of the tested methods showed any success in the steppe zone.
Biomass of weed measured in August was reduced by 18-57% on plots with a cover crops and ploughing.
Sowing legume-grass mixtures by the Russian SKP-2.1 after ploughing resulted in a higher number of seedlings that survived and weed biomass reduced by ploughing.
The results indicate a first but small success in the forest steppe.

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