Giorgi Khosroshvili, a farmer from Dedoplitskaro municipality in Kakheti region of Georgia has been growing wheat, barley and corn for 15 years. Having substantial experience in agriculture Giorgi was among the first farmers to agree to try out the new, no-till* technology for wheat production offered by the EU and FAO agronomists, under the EU-supported ENPARD programme. The project supports Georgian farmers in the Kakheti region to produce more and higher quality wheat with less expenses, using a no-till method.
Giorgi recalls that he was approached by extension officers who offered him this new technology, that has never been tried in the region before. Even more – the wheat on Giorgi’s plot was proposed to be seeded in springtime, as opposed to autumn, a traditional time for planting wheat in Georgia.
Owning a total of 130 hectares of land, the farmer proceeded with caution, trying it out only on one hectare. FAO extension specialists visited him at his plot and consulted the farmer for the whole duration of the work. The EU and FAO provided the necessary equipment for no-till and seeding, free of charge. The method also represents less carbon emissions from utilization of tractors.
The results surprised both Giorgi and his neighbouring farmers, who want to try out the new method now as well.
“I was able to save up to 20% of costs on fuel and mechanization services, as the no-tillage method requires less inputs in overall,” Giorgi said. “We planted the crop on my plot in late February – early March, it’s the first time it has been done here in Kakheti and the results speak for themselves, you can see how big the crops are now. So, I can say that the new technology works”, Giorgi states. Adding that in the coming autumn season he plans to expand the area with no-till approach to ten hectares.
Since the harvest is good, Giorgi plans to use no-till for even larger plots next year, as do his neighbors. The bigger the plot is, the more money farmers can save on the mechanization costs. No-till can be used for various crops traditionally harvested in Georgia such as wheat, rye and barley.
“FAO and EU provide constant support to Georgian farmers in introducing new technologies and cost-efficient solutions to agriculture. The methods that our agronomists showcase can bring more harvest with less costs to Georgian farmers, but also with less impact to the environment,” said Javier Sanz Alvarez, Coordinator of FAO-EU Projects in Georgia.
Indeed, no-till technology is part of conservation agriculture methods. It is not only cost-efficient, but also protects the soil from erosion and reduces the risk and impact from short droughts that are quite common in Kakheti.
“Moreover, the farms don’t need to burn the chaff anymore as the no-till method reuses chaff for mulching, allowing for moisture conservation in soil and reduce the impact of rain, less weeds and therefore higher yields after a second and third year of practicing the technology, hence it is a perfect Conservation Agriculture solution for Kakhetian farmers” said Allan Pineda, FAO Agronomist.
Giorgi’s plot is just one of many EU and FAO supported demonstration plots throughout Georgia. Cutting edge technology is used not only for wheat, barley and corn in Kakheti, but for the vegetables in mountainous regions as well, lacking good agricultural land. FAO agronomists in close cooperation with Georgia’s Ministry of the Environmental Protection and Agriculture organized Farmers Field Schools and numerous training for the farmers all around the country.
*No-till method prepares land for planting crops without excessively disturbing the soil. It prevents quick evaporation, and combats erosion. This method keeps organic materials in the soil that helps to recycle nutrition elements, protecting beneficial flora and fauna in the soil, altogether creating additional pores in the ground and keeps the levels humidity. No-till method is not only cost-efficient, but also protects the soil from erosion and reduces the impact from droughts. Moreover, the farms don’t need to burn the stubble anymore.