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Farming in the North Caucasus

The farming regions of the North Caucasus include:

  • Krasnodar Territory;
  • Stavropol Territory;
  • Rostov region;
  • Dagestan;
  • Kabardino-Balkaria;
  • North Ossetia;
  • Chechnya;
  • Ingushetia.

In total, agricultural land accounts for 20 million hectares, of which more than 16 million hectares is arable land.

Natural and climatic conditions

Climate

In the forest-steppe part of the North Caucasus and in the foothills, the average annual precipitation is 800 mm. In the zone of unstable moisture the sum of precipitation during the year is 450-600 mm, it includes the Stavropol Upland, flat areas of Krasnodar Territory, Chechnya, Kabardino-Balkaria, Ingushetia and North Ossetia.

The arid steppe zone with precipitation of 300-450 mm per year occupies most of the Rostov Region, northern areas of the Stavropol and Krasnodar Territories.

In the dry steppe subzone average annual precipitation is 200-300 mm, includes eastern parts of Rostov Region and Stavropol Territory. The sum of active temperatures is 3200-3700 °С.

In the steppe and southern areas of the forest-steppe of the North Caucasus are characterized by frequent droughts. Much of the land is subject to wind erosion of soils. Dust storms are most frequent in the Armavir corridor (Stavropol and Krasnodar regions). Wind speed during dust storms can reach 25-30 m/s, accompanied by significant soil blowing out up to 100-200 t/ha.

In areas with rugged terrain, water erosion occurs, with soil washing out up to 15-30 t/ha.

Soils

The soil cover of the North Caucasus is mainly represented by southern, ordinary, carbonate, leached black earths with humus content from 3 to 8% with light to medium loamy granulometric composition. Solonchak and solonetzic soils can be found.

In the south of the steppe part, southern loamy black earths are spread, the thickness of the humus horizon is 50-70 cm and the humus content is 4-5%. In the far south, along the northern shores of the Black Sea, dark chestnut and chestnut soils with lower humus content and humus horizon are found in a thin strip. There are patches of solonetz and chloride solonchaks.

Relief

The north of the region is dominated by flat terrain, moving southward it transitions to foothill and mountainous terrain. The relief features of the North Caucasus contribute to the development of wind erosion in the plain part and water erosion in the foothills and mountainous areas. Joint erosion takes place in regions with a flat relief, where strong winds and 450-550 mm of rainfall are manifested.

Vegetation

The high proportion of ploughed land in the North Caucasus determines the predominance of cultivated plants in the vegetation. In the less developed mountain and steppe areas – natural vegetation.

Among agricultural crops the largest share belongs to cereals, the main of which is winter wheat. In crop rotations, more than 50% of the area is devoted to it. Industrial crops account for 8-9.5% in Rostov and Stavropol Krai, and 15-20% of arable land in Krasnodar Krai. The share of fodder crops is 25-30%.

According to long-term observations, in the steppe and southern forest-steppe regions of the North Caucasus the best overwintering and development of winter crops are provided in cereal-fallow and cereal-fallow-row crop rotations, including fields of bare or strip fallow.

The main tasks of the farming system

Tasks of the farming system in the North Caucasus:

  • creating a favorable water regime of soils, overcoming the negative effects of droughts, especially in the steppe areas;
  • ensuring conditions for high and stable crop yields on the basis of farming intensification;
  • reproduction of soil fertility;
  • protection of soils from wind and water erosion;
  • optimizing the structure of areas under crops.

The main features of farming in the North Caucasus are frequent droughts and manifestation of wind and/or water erosion, which determines the peculiarities of farming systems. The soil-protective complex includes field-protective afforestation, afforestation of sands, ravines, and river and lake shores.

Crop rotations system

In the conditions of moisture deficit in Stavropol Territory and Rostov Region, the basis of crop rotation schemes is a section with bare fallow, cereal-fallow, cereal-fallow-row crop rotations of short rotation prevail. In Krasnodar Krai, cereal-row, row, and cereal-grass-row crop rotations with large saturation with sugar beet and other row crops are used. Long rotation in such crop rotations is explained by the inclusion of crops that require a long break in sowing and the desire to reduce the area under perennial grasses and bare fallows.

The main task in the introduction and development of field crop rotations for all soil and climate subzones of the North Caucasus is to provide winter wheat with optimal predecessors, the best of which is bare fallow.

On sloping lands with a slope of more than 3° bare (black) fallow is replaced by the sowing of perennial grasses or annual crops of continuous sowing.

Among the seeded fallows the greatest efficiency is shown by sainfoin for one mowing and legume-cereal, such as pea-oat, spring vetch, winter wheat and winter vetch. Positive effect of seeded fallows appears on condition of timely harvesting of a fallow crop, qualitative soil preparation and accumulation of sufficient moisture reserves.

In addition to seeded fallows, leguminous crops are good predecessors of winter cereals. Crop rotations with leguminous crops yield the highest yield of grain per hectare.

Widespread predecessors of winter wheat in the region are row crops harvested for silage, such as corn and sunflowers. However, an important disadvantage of these predecessors is the low supply of moisture and nitrogen at the time of sowing winter crops. The receipt of sprouts of winter wheat is negatively affected by excessive looseness of the soil after plowing, especially after late plowing.

Sugar beet, as a rule, in crop rotations is placed after winter wheat, going on a bare or seeded fallow. Repeated sowing of sugar beet or corn on grain, sunflower and other strong drying soil predecessors is not allowed.

After sugar beet is often placed corn for silage or spring barley. Sunflowers are cultivated at the end of crop rotation, return it to its previous place not earlier than 7-9 years, as otherwise the crops are very strongly affected by gray mold and infestation.

Sample crop rotations for crop rotation systems in the North Caucasus:

  • cereal-fallow:
    • 5-field: 1 – bare fallow, 2-3 – winter wheat, 4 – millet, 5 – winter, spring barley or oats;
    • 6-field: 1 – bare fallow, 2-3 – winter wheat, 4 – bare fallow, 5 – winter wheat, 6 – spring cereals or castor.
  • cereal-fallow-row;
    • 5-field: 1 – bare fallow, 2-3 – winter wheat, 4 – corn for silage, sorghum, 5 – spring, winter barley, millet;
    • 8-field: 1 – bare fallow, 2-3 – winter wheat, 4 – row crop silage (corn, sunflower, sorghum), 5 – winter, spring barley, 6 – bare fallow, 7 – winter wheat, 8 – sorghum for grain;
    • 8-field: 1 – bare fallow, 2 – winter wheat, 3 – spring barley with sainfoin, 4 – sainfoin, 5 – winter wheat, 6 – row crop for silage, 7 – winter wheat, 8 – sunflower;
  • cereal-row:
    • 8-field: 1 – leguminous, 2-3 – winter wheat, 4 – sunflower, 5 – seeded fallow, 6 – winter wheat, 7 – corn for grain, 8 – castor beans;
    • 9 – field: 1 – seeded fallow, 2 – winter wheat, 3 – sugar beet, 4 – leguminous, 5 – winter wheat, 6 – sunflower, 7 – corn for silage, 8 – winter wheat, 9 – spring barley with grass sainfoin;
  • row:
    • 8-field: 1 – peas, 2 – winter wheat, 3 – potatoes, sugar beet, 4 – corn for silage, 5 – winter barley, spring cereals, 6 – corn for grain, 7 – sunflower, 8 – spring cereals;
    • 9 – field field: 1 – seeded fallow, 2 – winter wheat, 3 – sugar beet, corn for grain, 4 – corn for silage, buckwheat, 5 – winter wheat, 6 – corn for grain, 7 – corn for silage, 8 – winter barley, 9 – sunflower.

On slopes subject to wind and water erosion, soil-protecting crop rotations with contour organization of territory and banded arrangement of crops are introduced. For example: 1 – perennial grasses, winter wheat, 2 – perennial grasses, potatoes, 3 – perennial grasses, oats + grasses, 4 – winter wheat, perennial grasses, 5 – potatoes, perennial grasses, 6 – oats + grasses, perennial grasses.

Corn and sorghum, perennial and annual grasses, winter and spring cereals are cultivated in fodder on-farm crop rotations.

Tillage system

In arid areas on soils with light granulometric composition, soil-protecting tillage is used to ensure that stubble is retained on the surface, which protects the soil from wind erosion and allows more moisture to be accumulated.

In areas of wind corridors, such as the Armavir corridor, flat-cut tillage is used.

In conditions of sufficient moisture on heavy soils, plowing is carried out at different depths, as well as alternating plowing with flat-cut and surface tillage, depending on the technology of cultivation.

Tillage of bare fallow

Tillage of bare fallow in the strongly arid eastern and southern regions begins with post-harvest loosening of soil with a needle harrow БИГ-3. Within 2-3 days after the first anti-erosion tillage by cultivators КПЭ-3,8 or КПШ-9 at a depth of 10-12 cm is carried out. Until late fall, when the rains fall, harrowing is carried out, which allows to better preserve the stubble and accumulate more moisture. With regrowth of weeds the field is cultivated КПЭ-3,8 or КПШ-9 on 12-14 cm. The main tillage of the fallow falls on the first ten-day period of October by deep loosening cultivators, type КПГ-250 or КПГ-2-150, to a depth of 25-27 cm.

In spring the harrowing and cultivation on 14-16 cm by flat-cut cultivators КПШ-9 in aggregate with rollers ЗКК-6А is carried out which allows to well divide the sowing layer of the soil.

The following tillage of the fallow is conducted by cultivators, the type КПП-2,2 or КПШ-9 at 10-12 and 8-10 cm. Presowing cultivation is carried out to the depth of sowing of winter wheat seeds 6-8 cm. When precipitation falls, harrowing by БИГ-3 is carried out to destroy surface crust and preserve moisture. Wheat is sown with grain core drills across the direction of the prevailing erosion-dangerous winds.

Technology of early fallow preparation. Stubble is not tilled in autumn, so it well protects the soil from wind erosion during winter and early spring and promotes the accumulation and preservation of moisture. Plowing of early fallow is completed no later than the end of April.

The number of surface tillage of fallows in summer depends on soil conditions, rainfall and weediness of fields. In erosion-prone areas it should be aimed at a minimum.

Layered tillage at different depths shows a greater effect than tillage at the same depth. In spring, after top harrowing, with mass growth of weeds, the first deep cultivation should be done on 10-12 cm with heavy cultivators КПЭ-3,8 or КПШ-9. For control of perennial weeds the polydisc-tillers are used at the depth of 12-14 cm and anti-erosion cultivators КПШ-9. Later fallow and rod cultivators are used, gradually reducing the depth of cultivation. The last cultivation is carried out to the seed sowing depth of 5-6 cm.

Deviations in the technology of fallow tillage leads to large losses of moisture, poor clearing of fields from weeds, the development of erosion processes and a significant decrease in yield. Typical mistake in preparation of bare fallows is excessive loosening.

Tillage for winter crops after non-fallow predecessors

The main tasks of tillage for winter crops after non-fallow predecessors are timely first tillage, moisture retention, elimination of clumping and weed elimination. It is important not to allow a break between harvesting the preceding crop and the first tillage.

In this case it is reasonable to start tillage in some vacant parts of the field without waiting for the whole field to be harvested. In this case it is necessary to achieve an optimum formation of the arable layer by harrowing and rolling.

After seeded fallows and leguminous crops the main tillage is carried out taking into account the soil moisture, the species composition of weeds, the possibility of crumbling of the cultivated layer. If crumbling enough good, plowing is carried out at a depth of 14-16 cm combined plowing units or polydisc-tillers ПЛ-10-25 with cutting the top layer needle harrow БИГ-3.

When the soil dries out for winter crops mouldboard plowing replaces the qualitative shallow tillage to a depth of 10-12 cm. For that the harrows БДН-3, БДТ-7, erosion control cultivators КПЭ-3,8 and flat-cut cultivators КПШ-9, КПП-2,2 in combination with harrows БИГ-3 are used.

The high efficiency in preparation of the soil for winter crops after the non-fallow preceding plants is provided by combined tillage aggregates АКП-2,5, which in one pass combine the technological operations of surface loosening, undercutting the soil to a depth of 10-14 cm by the flat-cutter, leveling and rolling. The topsoil layer is not overturned, is well undressed to a fine lumbly structure and leveled, on the surface of the field there is 60% of the stubble unembedded, forming a mulching layer.

Fertilizer system

For all regions of the North Caucasus it is important to suspend the reduction of humus reserves in the soil through the use of organic and mineral fertilizers, grass seeding, sideration and embedding of crop residues. This is especially relevant in the Rostov region, where, as a result of long-term non-compliance with the law of return, significant mineralization (dehumification) of black earth soils has occurred and a negative balance of organic matter is observed.

According to the Stavropol Research Institute of Agriculture, in a 5-6-field crop rotation, the deficit of organic matter per rotation is on average 21-25 t/ha. Mineral fertilizers can reduce the deficit by 2-3 t/ha. Well-prepared manure at the rate of not less than 60 t/ha completely eliminates it. Therefore, to maintain deficiency-free balance of humus it is necessary to apply not less than 8-10 t/ha of manure or 6-8 t/ha of manure with sufficient mineral fertilizers annually. It is necessary to take into account the mineralization of organic matter in the fallow period.

For all regions of the North Caucasus the use of fertilizers for winter wheat gives good results: the yield increase from mineral fertilizers on fallow lands reaches 1.1-1.3 t/ha, non-fallow precursors – 0.8-1.0 t/ha. Sugar beet, sunflower, leguminous, corn, sorghum, alfalfa give a good yield.

In the fertilizer system, the action of the basic fertilizer is calculated for several years of rotation of crop rotations or sections of the crop rotation. For most crops, it is effective to use a row method of application of phosphate fertilizers. Nitrogen top dressing is better to perform on the fields, sufficiently provided with mobile forms of phosphorus. With a low content of phosphorus in the soil is more effective to make nitrogen-phosphorus fertilizer. To improve the quality of grain, fertilize wheat during earing.

Rational and justified system of fertilizers allows you to obtain high and stable crop yields, while increasing soil fertility and product quality.

Soil protection complex

The North Caucasus is a region of active wind and water erosion. Droughts are frequent, especially in June and July. Annual plowing, sharp temperature fluctuations in winter and spring lead to the fact that the soil loses cohesion, resistance to wind and water.

Dust storms cause soil drift, blowing out the seeds, and cutting into young crops. At intervals of 1-4 years, they are observed in the central part of the North Caucasus, in the Armavir wind corridor and adjacent areas. Wind speed during dust storms reaches 30 m/s and soil losses in absence of soil protection measures amount to 100-300 t/ha, which means 1-3 cm layer is blown off, while in some fields in the central part of the region 1000-2000 t/ha or 10-20 cm are lost.

There are 14 main wind corridors on the territory of the region, the total area of which is about 2,2 million hectares, including 1380 thousand hectares in Rostov region, 490 thousand hectares in Stavropol region and 310 thousand hectares in Krasnodar region.

In the wind corridors along with deflation there is water erosion, which is most noticeable in Rostov region, in the foothills and mountainous areas.

In years of droughts and dust storms, yields fall by 1.5-2 times. For Stavropol Krai and Rostov Oblast, droughts vary greatly in time of onset, intensity and duration.

For the regions of the North Caucasus an adapted soil-protection complex has been developed, which became the basis of new land management projects, including anti-erosion organization of the territory of enterprises, soil tillage and crop seeding technology, agroforestry, hydraulic structures to regulate meltwater and rainwater runoff, irrigation.

Soil protection complex for arid regions:

  • introduction of cereal-fallow crop rotations of short rotation with strips of fallow across the prevailing winds with a width of 50-100 m;
  • planting of field-protective forest strips every 250-300 m;
  • tillage with preservation of stubble residues on fallow and arable land;
  • sowing of cereal crops by stubble seeders;
  • arrangement of irrigation systems for sowing forage crops and forest plantations;
    reclamation of saline soils.

Plant protection system

In the regions of the North Caucasus and southern Ukraine, winter wheat crops are damaged by bread beetles and sawflies. Winter moth, Meadow Moth, Turtle Bug, grain flies and aphids, thrips, blister beetles and rodents are widespread.

Widespread diseases of cultivated plants include cereal blight, powdery mildew, root rot of cereals, and false powdery mildew of sunflowers. In some years, some types of rust appear on cereals.

The general measures of the plant protection system for the North Caucasus against pests and diseases and eradication of weeds are:

  • high culture of farming, consisting in the implementation of a set of agro-technical and cultural measures – crop rotation, quality tillage and harvesting, destruction of weeds and sprouts of crumbled seeds of cultivated plants, disinfection of seeding material;
  • improvement of the plant protection service, organization of permanent control over the appearance of pests and diseases, weed infestation on the fields;
  • rational use of means of chemical protection of plants, compliance with the safety requirements of work with agrochemicals and environmental protection requirements;
  • introduction of biological methods of plant protection;
  • observance of plant quarantine measures.

Sources

Farming. Textbook for universities / G.I. Bazdyrev, V.G. Loshakov, A.I. Puponin et al. – Moscow: Publishing House “Kolos”, 2000. – 551 с.