Perennial Herbaceous Fodder Plants for Intact Canopy Cover [Tajikistan]

technologies_1000 - Tajikistan

Completeness: 65%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Technology

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:
SLM specialist:
Name of project which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Pilot Program for Climate Resilience, Tajikistan (WB / PPCR)
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
CDE Centre for Development and Environment (CDE Centre for Development and Environment) - Switzerland
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
NCCR North-South (NCCR North-South) - Kyrgyzstan

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

The cultivation of perennial herbaceous fodder plants to be used to fertilise unproductive cropland, and as permanent crops to be used to increase farm fodder production.

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


Perennial herbaceous fodder plants such as alfa-alfa and esparzet are cultivated for fodder production and to fertilise unproductive cropland. Esparzet and alfa-alfa are often grown on steep slopes not suitable for annual cropping and on unproductive cropland as green manure. Alfa-alfa and esparzet can be harvested for 6-10 years without tillage.

Purpose of the Technology: These crops fix nitrogen, so they help fertilise the soil so that farmers can plough or harrow the land after 5-10 years to grow annual crops again.Alfa-alfa and esparzet can be harvested for 6-10 years without tillage (depending on the soil characteristics and inclination).

Establishment / maintenance activities and inputs: As yield from perennial herbaceous fodder plant fields starts declining around 4-6 years after the initial cultivation, farmers make up for declining yields by applying additional seeds. Alfa-alfa and esparzet can be harvested twice a year (3-4 harvests a year if irrigated), which results in a significantly higher annual farm fodder production in comparison to ordinary haymaking fields.

Natural / human environment: Some farmers reported problems in growing esparzet or alfa-alfa on slopes with an inclination of more than 30%. However, various examples have shown that these perennial herbaceous fodder plants can be cultivated on steep slopes of up to 60%. On steep slopes an extra amount of seeds must be applied to offset those lost downslope by washing before germinating. Alfa alfa and esparzet are effective in reducing soil erosion since their cultivation leads to an more intact ground cover throughout the year. Furthermore, not needing to tillage for up to ten years helps conserve the soil resources.

2.3 Photos of the Technology

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment



Region/ State/ Province:


Further specification of location:

Faizabad Rayon

Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • evenly spread over an area
If precise area is not known, indicate approximate area covered:
  • 1-10 km2

2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • during experiments/ research

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.1 Main purpose(s) of the Technology

  • reduce, prevent, restore land degradation

3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied



  • Annual cropping
  • Perennial (non-woody) cropping
Annual cropping - Specify crops:
  • fibre crops - flax, hemp, other
  • cereals - wheat (spring)
  • fodder crops - alfalfa
  • vegetables - other
  • esparzet
Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 1

Longest growing period in days: 210Longest growing period from month to month: Mar - Aug


Major land use problems (compiler’s opinion): severe soil erosion (gullies and rills) and subsequent fertility decline on the cropland and overgrazed pastures

Major land use problems (land users’ perception): fertility decline, soil erosion and washing downslope of seeds before they can sprout.

Type of cropping system and major crops comments: If perennial herbaceous fodder plants are used as green manure, farmers will try to grow annual crops again 6-10 years after the initial cultivation. If crop yields remain low, farmers resort to growing herbaceous fodder plants as permanent crops.

3.4 Water supply

Water supply for the land on which the Technology is applied:
  • rainfed

Water supply also mixed rainfed - irrigated.

3.5 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • improved ground/ vegetation cover

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

agronomic measures

agronomic measures

  • A1: Vegetation/ soil cover
  • A7: Others
vegetative measures

vegetative measures

  • V2: Grasses and perennial herbaceous plants
management measures

management measures

  • M1: Change of land use type

Main measures: agronomic measures

Type of agronomic measures: green manure

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

soil erosion by water

soil erosion by water

  • Wt: loss of topsoil/ surface erosion
  • Wg: gully erosion/ gullying
chemical soil deterioration

chemical soil deterioration

  • Cn: fertility decline and reduced organic matter content (not caused by erosion)

Main type of degradation addressed: Cn: fertility decline and reduced organic matter content

Secondary types of degradation addressed: Wt: loss of topsoil / surface erosion, Wg: gully erosion / gullying

Main causes of degradation: deforestation / removal of natural vegetation (incl. forest fires) (Deforestation in the lower slopes), over-exploitation of vegetation for domestic use (Early in spring and late Fall grazing have led exploitation of natural grassland, because grass doesn't develop further.), overgrazing (Extensive grazing in the major issues in the region), change of seasonal rainfall (Lesser rainfall days), population pressure (Population increase puts more pressure on the natural resources, such as forests and grassland.)

Secondary causes of degradation: floods (Floods become common over the last 10 years)

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
  • reduce land degradation
  • restore/ rehabilitate severely degraded land

Main goals: rehabilitation / reclamation of denuded land

Secondary goals: mitigation / reduction of land degradation

4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology

Technical specifications (related to technical drawing):

Technical knowledge required for field staff / advisors: low

Technical knowledge required for land users: low

Main technical functions: improvement of ground cover, increase in nutrient availability (supply, recycling,…)

Secondary technical functions: increase in organic matter

Green manure
Material/ species: esparzet, alfa alfa
Remarks: sowing: 55kg/ha (esparzet), 15kg/ha (alfa alfa)

4.2 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

Specify currency used for cost calculations:
  • USD
Indicate average wage cost of hired labour per day:


4.4 Costs and inputs needed for establishment

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Equipment tools ha 1.0 10.0 10.0 100.0
Plant material seeds ha 1.0 30.0 30.0 100.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 40.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology in USD 40.0

Duration of establishment phase: 0 month(s)

4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. sowing spring / at initial cultivation
2. harrowing of land spring / only at initial cultivation (perennial plants)
3. harrowing of land spring / only at initial cultivation (perennial plants)
4. sowing spring / at initial cultivation
5. harvesting (haymaking) summer / two harvests: first harvest in June, second harvest in August
6. applying of additional seeds spring / when yields start declining (4-6 years after initial cultivation)

4.6 Costs and inputs needed for maintenance/ recurrent activities (per year)

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour harrowing of land ha 1.0 18.0 18.0 100.0
Labour haymaking ha 1.0 12.0 12.0 100.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology 30.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology in USD 30.0

Machinery/ tools: harrow, scythe

4.7 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

costs per hectare under following assumptions: esparzet: 50kg/ha (price per kg: 0.65 USD) or
alfa alfa: 15kg/ha (price per kg: 2 USD)

5. Natural and human environment

5.1 Climate

Annual rainfall
  • < 250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1,000 mm
  • 1,001-1,500 mm
  • 1,501-2,000 mm
  • 2,001-3,000 mm
  • 3,001-4,000 mm
  • > 4,000 mm
Agro-climatic zone
  • sub-humid
  • semi-arid

growing period 180-210 days

5.2 Topography

Slopes on average:
  • flat (0-2%)
  • gentle (3-5%)
  • moderate (6-10%)
  • rolling (11-15%)
  • hilly (16-30%)
  • steep (31-60%)
  • very steep (>60%)
  • plateau/plains
  • ridges
  • mountain slopes
  • hill slopes
  • footslopes
  • valley floors
Altitudinal zone:
  • 0-100 m a.s.l.
  • 101-500 m a.s.l.
  • 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
  • 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
  • 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
  • 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
  • 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
  • 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
  • > 4,000 m a.s.l.
Comments and further specifications on topography:

Altitudinal zone: Also 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.

Landforms: Also valles floors

Slopes on average: Also steep

5.3 Soils

Soil depth on average:
  • very shallow (0-20 cm)
  • shallow (21-50 cm)
  • moderately deep (51-80 cm)
  • deep (81-120 cm)
  • very deep (> 120 cm)
Soil texture (topsoil):
  • medium (loamy, silty)
  • fine/ heavy (clay)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • medium (1-3%)
  • low (<1%)
If available, attach full soil description or specify the available information, e.g. soil type, soil PH/ acidity, Cation Exchange Capacity, nitrogen, salinity etc.

Soil fertility: very high

Soil drainage / infiltration: medium - good

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Market orientation of production system:
  • subsistence (self-supply)
  • mixed (subsistence/ commercial)
Off-farm income:
  • > 50% of all income
Relative level of wealth:
  • average
  • rich
Level of mechanization:
  • manual work
  • mechanized/ motorized
Indicate other relevant characteristics of the land users:

Annual population growth: 1% - 2%

5% of the land users are rich and own 15% of the land.
75% of the land users are average wealthy and own 70% of the land.

Off-farm income specification: In general, all farmers (including those applying SWC technologies) are highly dependent on off-farm income which in most cases is earned in Russia either by themselves or by their relatives.

Level of mechanization: Ploughing is carried out by tractor whenever possible, but animal traction als existent.

Market orientation of production system subsistence (self-supply): subsistence, but surpluses sold

5.7 Average area of land used by land users applying the Technology

  • < 0.5 ha
  • 0.5-1 ha
  • 1-2 ha
  • 2-5 ha
  • 5-15 ha
  • 15-50 ha
  • 50-100 ha
  • 100-500 ha
  • 500-1,000 ha
  • 1,000-10,000 ha
  • > 10,000 ha

Average area of land owned or leased by land users applying the Technology: Also 0.5-1 ha

Households with 1-2 ha are depending on available work force, labour is limiting factor

5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights

Land ownership:
  • state
Land use rights:
  • leased

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown

Socio-economic impacts


fodder production

Comments/ specify:

two (if irrigated three) harvests possible

fodder quality


production area

Comments/ specify:

loss of anual cropland for food crop production

Income and costs

farm income


Socio-cultural impacts

conflict mitigation


Ecological impacts


soil cover


soil loss

Other ecological impacts

soil fertility




6.3 Exposure and sensitivity of the Technology to gradual climate change and climate-related extremes/ disasters (as perceived by land users)

Gradual climate change

Gradual climate change
Season increase or decrease How does the Technology cope with it?
annual temperature increase well

Climate-related extremes (disasters)

Meteorological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
local rainstorm well
local windstorm well
Climatological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
drought well
Hydrological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
general (river) flood not well

Other climate-related consequences

Other climate-related consequences
How does the Technology cope with it?
reduced growing period well

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
Short-term returns:


Long-term returns:


How do the benefits compare with the maintenance/ recurrent costs (from land users' perspective)?
Short-term returns:


Long-term returns:


6.5 Adoption of the Technology

If available, quantify (no. of households and/ or area covered):


Of all those who have adopted the Technology, how many did so spontaneously, i.e. without receiving any material incentives/ payments?
  • 91-100%

100% of land user families have adopted the Technology without any external material support

Comments on spontaneous adoption: estimates

There is a little trend towards spontaneous adoption of the Technology

Comments on adoption trend: Instead of leaving unproductive cropland uncultivated, some farmers have recently started cultivating alfa alfa or esparzet. Often esparzet is preferred by farmers to alfa alfa, since espartzet-hay is easier to feed to animals because of its hollow stem.

6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
increase of fodder production
fertilises unproductive cropland
easy to feed to cows in winter
in comparison to ordinary hayfields, two to three harvests are possible
only a few inputs required
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
increase farm production of good quality fodder

How can they be sustained / enhanced? If land is irrigated three, (instead of two) harvests are possible each year
reduces soil erosion through an intact ground cover being present throughout the year

fertilizes soil through nitrogen fixation

easy to implement, easy to maintain
involves only little costs for establishment, almost no inputs for maintainance
can be used to improve canopy cover on uncultivated (abandoned) cropland
no tillage necessary for 6-10 years

How can they be sustained / enhanced? additional application of seeds when yields start declining

6.8 Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks of the Technology and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the land user’s view How can they be overcome?
loss of possible cropland higher return from fodder production than for limited crop production on degraded land
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
loss of land which could have been used for production of food crops cultivate perennial herbaceous fodder plants especially on land which is unsuitable for production of annual crops
increase of farm fodder production allows farmers to have more animals which ultimately will lead to further overgrazing of pastures keep animals in stables - cut and carry system

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

Links and modules

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