Turkey is located between 36º-42° N and 26°-45° E, forming a land bridge between Europe and Asia, divided by the Sea of Marmara. Total land area is 783 577 km2, of which 759 752 km2 are in Asia and 23 825 in Europe. The Asian part is called "Anatolia" and the European part "Thrace". The country is roughly rectangular and measures about 1 600 km from east to west, and about 600 km from north to south. It is surrounded by Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Iran in the east, Iraq, Syria and the Mediterranean Sea in the south, the Aegean Sea in the West, Greece and Bulgaria in the north west and the Black Sea in the north (Figure 1).
The population was estimated at 65 311 000 in 2000 and according to the World Factbook was 70,413,958 in July 2006 with a growth rate of 1.06%. The agricultural population is declining. Half of the population was involved in agriculture in 1983, but this is now 34 percent (22 205 740) (SIS -State Institute of Statistics, SPO - State Planning Organisation)
Figure 1. Map of Turkey
Table 1. Agriculture and forest area 2001 (SIS, 2002a)
Areas in different land use categories are shown in Table 1. Conditions in Turkey are favourable for animal husbandry. Traditionally most farmers raise a few cattle, some small ruminants and poultry to meet their domestic needs. There are 20 indigenous cattle breeds, 17 breeds of sheep and 5 breeds of goat (Akman et al, 2000). The ruminant population in 2001 was 10 907 000 head of cattle and buffalo (9 936 000 in 2004, and 35 693000 head of sheep and goats (31 700 000 in 2004). Statistics for livestock numbers; beef, veal, buffalo, sheep, goat meat and milk production; live animal, meat export and import for the period 1995-2004 are given in Table 2. About 25 percent of the cattle are of high yielding breeds, 30 percent crossbreds and 45 percent indigenous. Agriculture accounts for 13.8 percent of the gross national product and the share of the ruminant sector among all agriculture was 29.5 percent in 1999 (SIS, 1997; SIS, 2000; SIS, 2002a,b).
Most cattle are still under traditional management relying mainly on extensive grazing, and receiving poor quality feed, particularly in winter, and in most cases very little veterinary care except for vaccination. Similarly a high proportion of small ruminants are raised under traditional systems. Since 1990 the number of small ruminants has decreased, while cattle numbers are almost stable. This indicates a structural change in the livestock sector through a move to more intensive systems.
The total pasture area is estimated at 124 000 km2 but it is declining slowly for several reasons. Pasture is still the main source of feed; traditionally pasture areas belong to the state and are open for common use. The newly passed (1998) Pasture Law brings a new regime to pasture ownership (Büyükburc and Arkac, 2000). According to the Pasture Law, pastures will be assigned to municipalities or village communities once their boundaries are determined and certified. After certification is completed, carrying capacity and duration of grazing will be determined for each area, then the villages will be given the right to graze the previously determined and certified areas for a given period of time with the set number of animals.
Table 2. Turkey: Livestock numbers; meat+milk production and meat+milk imports and exports for the period 1996-2005.
Farm size is a limiting factor for agricultural productivity. Over 85 percent of enterprises are under 10 hectares(Table 3). This corresponds to 42 percent of the total cultivated land. Additionally, 57 percent of the enterprises have over 4 plots (Table 4). Land fragmentation is a serious drawback to mechanized agriculture and to increasing production.
Table 3. Distribution of agricultural enterprises according to land sizes *
Table 4. Number of plots per agricultural enterprise *
The status of plant genetic resources in Turkey
Due to its great variety in geomorphology, topography and climate, Turkey has large diversity of habitats so it is very rich in plant species and endemism. The number of native ferns and seed plant species is about 8 745 (Davis, 1988), 2 763 of which are endemic (32 percent) (Kaya et al., 1997). It is scientifically agreed that two of the Centres of Diversity and Centres of Origin - the Near Eastern and the Mediterranean - overlap at Anatolia. Turkey is a centre of origin of such cultivated plants as Linum, Allium, Hordeum, Secale, Triticum, Avena, Cicer, Lens, Pisum, Vitis, Amygdalus, Prunus, Beta etc. Turkey is also microcentre for Amygdalus, Malus , Pistachio, Prunus, Pyrus, Cucumis, Cucurbita, Lens culinaris, Lupinus, Medicago, Onobrychis viciifolia, Phaseolus vulgaris, Trifolium, Vicia faba, Vitis vinifera and Zea mays.
Pasture and Forage Plants :Forage crops are the main cultivated source of forage and raw material for the feed industry. Their production area is very small, only 3 percent of the total agricultural area of the country. Pastures have lost their productivity due to continuous and irregular grazing. Natural pasture is, however, the main plant genetic source for many species of legumes (Leguminoseae), grasses (Gramineae) and other families. Common vetch (Vicia sativa), bitter vetch (Vicia ervilia), the other 57 wild Vicia spp., chickling vetch (Lathyrus, 59 species), sainfoin (Onobrychis, 52 species), clover (Trifolium, 95 species), lucerne (Medicago, 30 species) and sweet clover (Melilotus, 10 species) are the main forage legumes. Turkey is also rich in grasses such as wheat grass (Agropyron spp.), fescues (Festuca spp.), and rye grass (Lolium spp.).
Forests trees: Trees in this group include the natural or cultivated ones used as firewood, or timber in industry. They also serve for protective (prevention of erosion and climatic, hydrologic and air pollution) and recreational purposes. Important forest trees are the following: pine (Pinus brutia, P. nigra, P. sylvestris, P. halepensis and P. pinea), fir (Abies nordmanniana subsp. nordmanniana, subsp. bornmulleriana, subsp. equitrojani, and Abies cilicica subsp. cilicica, subsp. isaurica), cedar (Cedrus libani), beech (Fagus orientalis), oriental spruce (Picea orientalis), lime (Tilia), red alder (Alnus spp.), junipers (Juniperus spp.), and oaks (Quercus, about 20 species). Poplar (Populus spp.) and eucalyptus (Eucalyptus) are the most important forest and timber trees .
Plant Genetic Diversity by Geographical Regions
East Anatolia :This region is very rich in forage and pasture plants and a gene centre for a number of them such as lucerne (Medicago), clover (Trifolium), vetch (Vicia), sainfoin (Onobrychis), and chickling vetch (Lathyrus). The area is generally at high altitude and the pastures are severely degraded by heavy grazing. The most persistent grass species of the pastures are fescue (Festuca) and wheat grass (Agropyron). Although this is the coldest part of the country and heavy grazing has been going on for many decades causing serious genetic erosion, it is still possible to find very valuable plants in the pastures. This is because the native pasture plants are highly persistent and very well adapted to the conditions of the area.
South Eastern Anatolia: The region is at the northern end of the "Fertile Crescent" which is considered the primary gene centre for cereals and food legumes. The area is very rich in wild relatives of wheat (Triticum), lentil (Lens), chickpea (Cicer) and some of the forage plants such as peas (Pisum), vetch (Vicia) and chickling vetch (Lathyrus). Pistachio (Pistacia), Euphrates poplar (Populus euphratica), oak (Quercus brantii), red pine (Pinus brutia), and wing-nut (Pterocarya fraxinifolia) are native to the area.
Mediterranean:This is the most important region for forest trees and wild plants. The rate of endemism is very high. Chickpea (Cicer), medicinal and aromatic plants (Sideritis spp., Origanum spp.), laurel (Laurus nobilis), caper (Capparis spinosa) and bulbous-tuberous plants (orchids) have priority in this region. The region is also very important for trees: cedar (Cedrus libani), Taurus fir (Abies cilicica), beech (Fagus), junipers (Juniperus) and olive (Olea).
Aegean and Marmara:As in the Mediterranean Region, there are many wild relatives of cultivated plants such as wheat (Triticum), chickpea (Cicer), broad bean (Vicia faba) and forest trees, as well as many endemic species. The Aegean region is very rich in orchids (Orchis), sweet marjoram (Origanum), ironwood worth (Sideritis), and walnut (Juglans regia), stone pine (Pinus pinea), Kazdagi fir (Abies nordmanniana ssp. equi-trojani), olive (Olea europea); almond (Amygdalus communis), and sweetgum (Liquidambar orientalis); the Marmara region is rich in chestnut (Castanea sativa), alder (Alnus), and hornbeam (Carpinus). Kazdagi Mountain (Ida) is one of the most important areas of the country from the viewpoint of genetic diversity.
Black Sea Region:This region is important for such forest trees as pine (Pinus), fir (Abies), spruce (Picea), lime (Tilia), fruits (Prunus, Cerasus, Pyrus), medicinal and aromatic plants, snow drop (Galanthus), autumn crocus (Colchicum), marjoram (Origanum) and some pasture plants.
Central Anatolia:Much of the grazing areas are covered with steppe vegetation. Lucerne (Medicago) and wheatgrass (Agropyron) show wide diversity. Milkvetch (Astragalus) are very typical plants of degraded pastures. The transitional zone between northern and southern Anatolia is very rich in endemic plants. Forest trees remaining are elm (Ulmus), black pine (Pinus nigra) and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris). Rose (Rosa), sage (Salvi), rock rose (Cistus) and many other shrubs and herbaceous plants are also native to the area. The Salt Lake area is very rich in plant species as well as endemism.
Factors Reducing Plant Genetic Diversity
It is generally accepted that the present dominant steppe vegetation in a great part of the country is the result of long term anthropogenic activity. Most of the area was once covered with forests. Turkey has been a pathway for many civilizations and hosted many of them. Change has become faster in the last century and is now of dangerous dimensions, especially due to the rapid population growth in recent decades. Particularly after the 1950s, mechanization of agriculture, industrialization and tourism have increased the pressure on biological diversity. The most important consequences of these effects are reduction and fragmentation of natural habitats.
Turkish soils are diverse and several soil groups have been recognized in different geographical zones. Major groups by region can be outlined as follows:
Black Sea coasts podsolic soils; Aegean and Mediterranean coasts Mediterranean Soils; mountains and high elevation areas with sufficient rainfall forest and rendzina soils; arid areas brown and reddish brown soils; semi arid areas lime free brown, chestnut and reddish chestnut soils; plains and adjacent slopes alluvial and colluvial soils, and finally volcanic areas volcanic soils. This is a quite a generalized outline and it does not cover the other minor soil groups.
Land use capability classes and their share in total land area are given in Table 5 (General Directorate of Soil and Water, 1978) Over two thirds of the country consists of classes VI and above.
Table 5. Land use capability classes and percent of land area of Turkey
Turkey is a high altitude country with an average altitude of 1 131 m. Low (0-250 m), medium (250-1 000 m) and high altitude areas (> 1 000 m) constitute 10.0, 34.5 and 55.5 percent of the total area respectively (Table 6).
Table 6. Distribution of area by altitude.
Turkeys topography exhibits significant variation where ecological factors change sharply over very short distance. The European section (Thrace) is a fertile hilly land. The Asian part (Anatolia) consists of an inner high plateau with mountain ranges along the north and south coasts. The plateau extends from the west to the Aegean coast, with many river valleys. Southern mountain range (Taurus) at the east curves round in an arc to the South East Taurus Mountain, embracing the outer plateau, the Fertile Crescent which is the northern extension of the Syrian Desert. The plateau falls gradually to sea level in West Anatolia, and terminates in a series of promontories which face the Aegean Sea.
Central Anatolia is a high plateau at an elevation between 800 and 1 000 m, with several mountains rising much higher. Towards the inner part, the plateau slopes gradually to a flat basin containing a large salt lake.
In the north of Anatolia, mountain ranges get higher and closer to the sea towards the east, allowing a narrow green, fertile belt. At many points of Black Sea region, mountain ranges rise to over 3 000 m. Altitude falls gradually towards the west of northern mountain range. Several rivers cut their way on to the plateau.
East Anatolia is higher and much more mountainous, the level of the plateau itself reaches over 1 700 m in the further eastern part. There are several volcanoes in the plateau rising up to over 3 000 m. The highest mountain of the country, Agri (5 172 m) is in the east of the region.
South East Anatolia is much lower and flatter than East Anatolia falling from 800 m in the north to 400 m at the Syrian border. Two major trans-boundary rivers, Firat (Euphrates) and Dicle (Tigris), are important water resources. The topography of the region is very suitable for construction of a series of dams to meet national energy and irrigation requirements. The region is flat in the south and hilly in the north. Karaca Dag (1 919 m), a basaltic mountain, is the highest point in the area.
The South Anatolian coastline is very steep with deep gorges separating the mountain range of Central Taurus massif which continues north-eastwards as the Anti-Taurus. The eastern arm continues southwards as the Amanus range which runs close to the Gulf of Iskenderun until it reaches the Syrian frontier at Akra Dag.
Thrace is topographically very heterogeneous. The Istranca mountains which border the Black sea are a low continuation of the northern range of Anatolia and are composed largely of schist. Most of this region is occupied by undulating plains drained by the river Ergene. On the northwest of the Sea of Marmara is the low sandstone range of Tekir Mountains which continues southwards into the Gelibolu Peninsula.
Being in the temperate zone and due to significant topographic and ecological variations over short distances, Turkey has a variety of climatic types. The average annual temperature varies between 18-200C on the south coast, falls to 14-150C on the west coasts and depending on the elevation, fluctuates between 4-180C in the interior. Highest temperatures are recorded in July and August. Average temperature during these two months is 270C on the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts; 22-240C on the Marmara and Black Sea coasts. Likewise interior parts of the country have hot summers. However, in the east Anatolian plateau and north eastern parts, summers are cooler. Substantial temperature variations are observed between the coast and the interior in winter. The winters are cold in the east and interior and relatively warm on the south coasts. Annual average temperature in January and February is around 00C in the east, 5-70C on the north and west coasts and 8-120C on the south coasts.
Turkey is subject to both a continental climate characterized by rainy weather throughout the year and also to a subtropical climate distinguished by dry summers. Heavy rainfall is general on the mountain slopes facing the sea. Moving towards the interior the rainfall generally decreases. Thus there is a substantial variation with respect to precipitation between parts of the coastline mountains facing the seas and those facing the interior regions. Autumn is the start of the rainy season, which continues until late spring on the Marmara, Mediterranean and Aegean coasts. The Black Sea coasts receive rain throughout the year; in this region, the amount of rainfall steadily decreases in an east-west direction from 2 000 to 600 mm/year. In the interior and South-eastern Anatolia, rainfall mostly occurs in spring. Throughout much of the area snow lies in winter above 1 000 m. In the east of Turkey, rainfall occurs in spring; winter temperatures are much lower then the rest of the country, particularly in the highlands of this region nearly the whole area is under snow from November to March or April. Although the west and south coasts are near the sea, they receive less rainfall then the Black Sea coasts. These regions are very dry in summer but humidity is higher than inner and eastern parts of the country.
Turkey is characterized by extreme geo-climatic diversity which permits the production of a wide range of livestock and crops. There are several publications concerning the climatic zones of Turkey. Depending on the method used up to 22 agro-ecological zones and several sub zones were determined. For practical reasons to reflect the similarities of pastoral and animal husbandry systems, the classification developed by State Institute of Statistics (SIS, 1994) will be used in this document. The SIS recognizes nine agricultural zones (AZ) in Turkey; (1) Central North, (2) Aegean, (3) Marmara and Thrace, (4) Mediterranean, (5) North East, (6) South East, (7) Black Sea, (8) Central East, and (9) Central South. The main characteristics of the agricultural zones (AZ) are as follows: (Figures in the map refer to Agricultural Zones)
Figure 2. Agricultural Zones of Turkey
AZ 1 - Central North:Continental climate with annual rainfall of 375 mm/yr. Rainfed cereals, food legumes and forage legume production. Extensive small ruminants, intensive dairy cattle.
AZ 2 - Aegean: Mediterranean climate with annual precipitation up to 800 mm/yr. Extensive small ruminant and beef cattle, intensive dairy cattle. Rainfed cereals, olives, figs, irrigated cotton.
AZ 3 - Marmara and Thrace:Cereals, sunflower, olives, vegetables. Important cattle region with many pure and cross bred animals for milk and meat production. Proportion of pasture areas are only 9 percent of total land area. Precipitation 700 mm/yr.
AZ 4 - Mediterranean:Western coastal area. Annual average rainfall up to 700 mm/yr. Rainfed and irrigated cereals, olives, cotton, citrus, maize. Livestock less important. Significant goat meat production.
AZ 5 - North East:Hilly and mountainous high elevation area. Coldest part of the country with 100-180 days of frost/yr. Pastures occupy 75 percent of the total land area. Extensive livestock production. Subsistence cereal production.
AZ 6 -South East:Large fertile plains in the southern part. The biggest irrigation project (GAP Project) under process. Extensive sheep production. Rainfed cereals and food legumes, irrigated cotton. Increasing use of irrigation.
AZ 7 - Black Sea:Annual average rainfall of 1 500 mm. Rainfed hazelnuts, vegetables, maize, tea. Significant local cattle production and extensive sheep raising.
AZ 8 - Central East:Rainfed cereal, food legume production. Extensive small ruminant production. Local and cross-bred cattle for milk. Annual average precipitation 400 mm, days of frost 80-120. Pasture areas cover 54 percent of the total land area.
AZ 9 - Central South:Extensive small ruminants, intensive dairy cattle. Rainfed cereals, food legumes and forage production. Annual precipitation 350 mm/yr, days of frost 80-100.
Turkey’s ruminant livestock resources in 2001 consisted of 10 761 000 cattle (in 2005 – 10,069,000), 28 492 000 sheep (in 2005 - 25,201,000) and 7 201 000 million goats (in 2005 - 6,609,000). Cattle numbers in Turkey have not changed significantly in the last 30 years while sheep, goat and buffalo numbers decreased steadily in the same period. The changes in ruminant numbers reflect the preferences of animal raisers.
Starting from the establishment of the Republic of Turkey, large ruminants have been preferred over other kinds of farm animals. Several steps have been taken by the government to increase large ruminant production; the main efforts have been given to genotype improvement. Initially local breeds were improved through selection; several breeds were thus treated. Then State Farms established programmes to distribute pure and cross-bred livestock to farmers. Later on artificial insemination centres were started by the government. In remote areas, where artificial insemination was not feasible, bulls of high yielding breeds were provided temporarily or permanently (free of charge) to villages. In the meantime several research and extension projects have been organized with local and foreign resources. Subsidies have been provided to inputs such as breeding material, medicine, feed and shelter, and animal health care. Animals were vaccinated free of charge against infectious diseases. Importation of pure breeds has been accepted practice by all governments. The general trend in the last 10 years is importation of pregnant animals. Consequently the share of pure and cross-breeds in Turkey has increased to 54.9 percent in 2000. Shares of pure, cross-bred, local cattle, sheep and goats by agricultural zone are given in Table 7.
Table 7. Share of pure, cross-bred, local cattle, sheep and goats by agricultural zones *
Figures in Table 7 reflect livestock production systems in each agricultural region. It is well known that pure and cross-bred cattle require better conditions than local breeds. About 71 percent of all the pure breeds are found in Central-North, Aegean, Marmara and Central-South where intensive cattle breeding is the best developed in Turkey. In areas like the North East, South East and Central-East, extensive animal feeding is the general practice . These regions are important sheep raising areas. About half of the sheep and local cattle breeds are found in these regions. Although the Mediterranean region has a big marketing potential for livestock products, being the centre of tourism, it is the least developed part of the country in this regard. This region still has 25 percent of the goats. This is because the topography of the area is suitable for goats which are the best adapted animal for maquis vegetation.
Pastures play a very important role in ruminant feeding. About 69 percent of crude protein, 62 percent of starch and 33 percent of roughage needs of the ruminant livestock are provided by pasture (Genckan et al, 1989). The rest of the feed is obtained from cultivated forages, concentrates, cereal and grain legume straw, agro-industry by-products and residues. The share of the forage crop production area in total arable lands is about 3 percent (Table 8). Although there has been a slight increase in recent years this figure is far behind the desired level. Table 9 summarizes the concentrate feed sources of Turkey.
Legislative arrangements for improvement of the ruminant sector
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) issued a Decision (Decision No 2000/467) on May 10, 2000, to support the ruminant sector in Turkey between 2000-2005. The Decision covers the following items.
a) Forage crops production projects approved by the MARA: For perennial forage crops up to 30 percent of total investment including equipment expenses (fertilizer and transport excluded) will be directly supported by the Ministry. The support will be up to 20 percent for annual crops. For the project to be eligible, the area sown to perennial and annual forages should be between 1-50 ha and 2.5-100 ha respectively.
b) Purchase of breeding animals: Farmers purchasing certified pure bred dairy cattle, raised by local holdings or General Directorate of State Farms will be directly supported up to 30 percent of the total cost.
c) Artificial insemination: Holdings receiving artificial insemination service will be supported up to 50 percent of the total artificial insemination costs.
d) Newly established artificial insemination enterprises: Equipment cost of newly established artificial insemination enterprises will be supported up to 50 percent of the total investment.
Table 8. Forage crop production between 1995-1998. *
Table 9. Concentrate feed sources of Turkey*
Pastures have been the basic source of forage for thousands of years. At the beginning of twentieth century when 12 000 000 people were living in Turkey, a relatively small number of animals were grazed on natural grazing and there was no serious pasture management problem. After the end of the World War 1, there were 440 000 km2 of natural grazing occupying 58 percent of the country. At the same time there were about 20 000 000 livestock units grazing on this vast area. After the second world war animal numbers remained almost the same, while grazing areas were reduced to 430 000 km2. Since then there has been a sharp increase in animal numbers and decrease in pasture area. Decrease in the pasture area has been due to mechanization of agriculture and ploughing of pasture to gain crop land. In 1980 rangeland areas had decreased to 217 000 km2 (Table 10). Stocking rate declined from 2.18 ha/AU in 1935 to 0.75 ha/AU in 1970 (Munzur, 1987). The same trend continued until the present time. Nowadays the number of animals grazing on Turkeys pastures is 3-4 times more than their carrying capacity.
Table 10. Changes in pasture area between
Because of long years of over-grazing the pastures have not only lost productivity but also their quality. The percentage of desirable plants in the botanical composition is 10-20 percent. Depending on the zone and grazing pressure, plant cover of the pastures is between 10-50 percent. As a result of the above mentioned negative impacts, pastures are far from being able to fulfil their main functions. Plant cover of the pastures in semi arid zones (south eastern and central part), has reduced dramatically and is now unable to hold the soil, causing severe wind and water erosion problems. Such areas total 5-7 000 000 ha. Pasture areas, dry matter yield and total dry matter production by the geographical regions are given in Table 11.
Table 11. Pasture area, DM matter yield and total production by geographical regions
Pasture degradation is the most important factor reducing productivity. This is because there are few incentives for individuals to reduce grazing pressure such as limiting number of animals, grazing period and timely grazing of pastures. Villages rarely plan pasture management and it is left totally to the shepherds. Pasture can be classified as degraded, degrading and productive. Degraded pastures are found on the least productive ecological systems and areas close to villages. They are the least productive resources and can not be improved and managed economically in the short term. Degrading pasture applies to the major portion and require very careful improvement and management techniques. The main attention should be paid to these resources because they constitute the major pasture areas. Productive pastures are found only on better soils and in more isolated areas with lower grazing pressure. This source is still capable of supplying sufficient roughage when properly managed (Fargher, 1993).
The social and economical circumstances of the population are changing rapidly. As a result of emigration from rural areas to big settlements, the number of people involved in agriculture declined to 34 percent in 2000. This is a result of changes in animal composition and more sedentary system causing shortage of labour force and the decreasing productivity of grazing areas. Young rural people spend up to ten months per year working in the big cities. Labour requirements are met either by hiring shepherds or modifying the animal husbandry system to more cost effective strategies needing less man power, such as dairy cattle. As the number of people declines in the rural areas, the specialist animal producers are increasing their animal numbers. This is to say that, compared to other agricultural sectors, animal husbandry is carried out in a more professional way.
The land tenure system is, and has been, one of the major constraints of grassland management. Common areas are grazed free of charge, therefore they are not managed properly. Boundaries of pastures are not clearly determined and assigned to village communities. In the absence of tenure, the users have no incentives to invest in rangeland resources. In accordance with the new Pasture Law, cadastral work to define the boundaries of pastures is continuing and is expected to have a positive impact on pasture management and rehabilitation.
Present conditions of natural pasture in various geographical regions of Turkey
Although Turkey faces several constraints on productivity of grasslands and forage crops, there is a great potential for developing forage sources. Historically the grasslands have been considered as the cheapest feed and therefore exploited excessively with no care for their sustainability. It is quite obvious that current animal numbers are in excess of the carrying capacity of the grasslands. Therefore all opportunities should be taken to improve the feed resources to reduce the grazing pressure. Researchers have determined means of improving feed resources including the best grassland rehabilitation and management activities and forage crop production systems, suitable for the various regions.
Fertilizing is one of the most effective inputs to increase agricultural productivity. Although the total national fertilizer consumption was 10 946 000 tons in 1998 (SIS, 2000), the amount used for pasture improvement is negligible. Several fertilizer experiments were carried out on natural meadow and pastures, mainly in the central and eastern parts of Turkey. The effect of fertilizers on the yield of natural pasture and meadows was examined in Central Anatolia by Alinoglu and Mülayim (1976). Encouraging results were obtained in meadow areas. Green forage yield increase was up to 8 t/ha with N100, P60 and K20. In addition to yield increase, fertilizer had a positive effect on the quality of hay. While hay yield increased with fertilizer application on natural pasture, the response to fertilizers was not economically feasible. In another experiment fertilizing natural pasture in the same area was successful together with a rest treatment (Büyükburc, 1983). Hay yield of the pasture was 3-4 times greater than the control plots with N100, P100 application together with a complete rest treatment in spring. Eastern Anatolian pastures responded more strongly to fertilizers. Application of P50 in autumn together with N75 in spring resulted in over six-fold increase in productivity (Büyükburc et al., 1990). Gökkus and Altin (1986) state that harrowing the pasture before fertilizer application results in better uptake of nutrients by the plants. In other experiments, depending on the quality of the pastures, Altin (1975) recommends N50-100 and P40-80; Manga et al. (1986) N60, P30-60 for the recovery of Eastern Anatolian pastures. It is also recommended that fertilizer is only effective on pastures in reasonable condition under suitable management practice. Efficient fertilizer use depends on the quality of the pastures; to get an adequate response the pasture should be in good condition and grazing pressure should be at the correct level.
Research results indicate clearly that, in some parts of the country, fertilizer application is quite an effective way of improving the productivity of the pastures and meadows; however it is still not widely accepted in the country because of the land ownership regime. Pastures are considered common areas so the farmers do not invest in fertilizers for this purpose. The government fertilizes pastures on a limited scale for extension but it has never been taken up by the farmers.
6.2. Rotational grazing
Rotational grazing is a basic principle of pasture management. This is generally ignored by the farmers because the pastures are the cheapest feed sources. Adequacy or lack of feed as well as lack of legislation to enable sustainable management of pastures are other points. Another negative factor is that rotational grazing requires an extra fencing investment depending on the topography of the area. Although the herdsmen are well aware of the benefits of rotational grazing, they continue to graze all the parts of the grasslands from early spring until winter. The effect of rotational grazing on the yield and rangeland vegetation was investigated by several researchers.
Recovery of degraded pastures requires longer than expected. A trial was conducted on a degraded pasture of Central Anatolia to discover the effect of resting from grazing for various periods up to eight years in comparison with grazing. Under continuous grazing, the amount of grasses, legumes and other plants remained unchanged between 48-51 percent, 10 percent and 37-40 percent respectively. The percentage of grasses decreased to 34 percent, while legumes and plants belonging to other families reached 14 percent and 52 percent respectively after eight years conservation. Another finding was that the annual plants were replaced by perennials. In the mean time plant cover, which was originall6y 12 percent reached 24 percent at the end of eight years of protection (Alinoglu, 1971).
6.3. Artificial pasture establishment and reseeding
Artificial pasture establishment is one way of increasing productivity of grazing areas. Several trials have been conducted to find the seeding rates and best mixtures for different climatic regions. In a study conducted under Ankara conditions, mixture of intermediate wheatgrass (Agropyron intermedium), smooth brome (Bromus inermis) and lucerne (Medicago sativa) was recommended as the best mixture. Tosun et al. (1977) carried out a study in East Anatolia to determine the best artificial pasture establishment technique. After seven years the best practice was drilling a mixture of lucerne (M. sativa), sainfoin (O. sativa), smooth brome (B. inermis), intermediate wheat grass (A. intermedium) and sheeps fescue (F. ovina) on a perfectly prepared seed bed. Hay yield of artificial pasture was three times more then natural herbage. While liveweight gain from the natural pasture was 22 kg/ha in one grazing period, it was over 60 kg/ha on artificially established pasture. Overseeding was not successful because seedlings of the sown forages could not compete with the native herbage. In another experiment reseeding of natural pasture was successful together with harrowing, burning and fertilization (Gökkus, 1987).
6.4. Fallow reduction and forage production from fallow areas
Reduction of fallow was a major concern of Governments in the past 25 years. Several rural development and fallow reduction projects, carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, gave fruitful results in increasing forage crop and food legume production. One reason for fallowing the land is the difficulty of soil preparation after the cereal harvest. Cereals are harvested at the end of summer in the major cereal areas so farmers tend to start soil preparation after the first rains come. Annual forage legumes have tremendous potential in this regard since they leave the soil free at the beginning of summer with sufficient moisture for seed bed preparation for the following crop. As a result of several research and extension projects the area of fallow declined to 4 900 000 ha in 1998 compared to 8 400 000 ha in 1979. Generally fallow reduction projects had a considerable effect on food legume production but the share of forage crop areas was below the desirable level. Karagöz et al. (1991) state that it is possible to obtain over 3 t/ha hay from barley and vetch mixtures in Central Anatolian fallows without decreasing the cereal yield. Similar results were obtained in the same region by Kurt and Tan (1984), Tan (1984 a). Annual forage and cereal mixtures sown as the main crop, yielded almost the same amount of dry matter as the fallow sown mixtures (Tan, 1984 b), this proves that fallows can be used economically to produce fodder.
6.5. Establishment of temporary or seasonal grazing areas
Arable areas provide an excellent source of temporary or seasonal grazing but fallows are more practical for this purpose. While the distance of the field from the farm is an important factor for establishing temporary pasture, it was proved in some experiments that it is a feasible way of forage crop production (Munzur et al., 1991). The best mixture for a seasonal pasture was 40 percent cereal and 60 percent vetch (Munzur, 1978). Karabulut et al. (1989) state that it is possible to obtain a liveweight gain of up to 10.5 and 9.5 kg with lambs and ewes, on a spring sown legume cereal mixture on fallows in Central Anatolia.
Lucerne, Medicago sativa, has long been grown Turkey. Being one of the gene centres of the crop, it is found naturally in almost all regions, particularly in eastern and central Anatolia. There are lucerne fields up to 50 years old in the east. The variety "Kayseri" is the oldest registered and most widely used one. It gives 3-4 cuts under irrigated conditions. Introduced coastal types give up to 12 cuts per year on the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts, but these are mainly cotton areas and lucerne cultivation is almost negligible here. Average hay yield of lucerne is about 7 T/ha in Turkey. Traditionally, it is the major fodder crop of the irrigated areas. It is generally grown as the main feed source for the most valuable animals. Lucerne is also cultivated under rainfed conditions at the eastern part of the country, but yields are very low so its area is very limited.
6.7. Fodder conservation
Lucerne is replaced by sainfoin, Onobrychis viciifolia, under rainfed conditions where it is more productive than alfalfa and seed production is much easier. Sainfoin is very palatable, less exacting in terms of seedbed preparation and it does not cause bloat of ruminants when grazed or fed green. Despite the several advantages over lucerne under dryland conditions, it has a serious drawback in that sainfoin loses its productivity in a short time due to damage caused by several insects. The main three insects involved are Bembecia scopigera, Dipsosphecia ichneumoniformis and Sphenoptera carceli (Tamer and Özer, 1990). The insects nest in the upper part of the root system and cause significant decrease in yield in the second and third years after establishment. Most of the plants die in the fourth year greatly reducing the hay yield so sainfoin is considered a three year crop in Turkey. Research and breeding studies have not succeeded in solving this problem. In spite of this disadvantage, the farmers are satisfied with the yield of the plant and sainfoin acreage remains almost stable. It gives one (rarely two) cuts per year. Average hay yield of sainfoin is about 3.8 t/ha.
The main hay sources in Turkey are sown forage and meadows. Cereal and food legume straw are also widely used hay sources for winter feeding. About 644 000 ha of meadows are harvested for hay. Unlike the pastures, meadows are owned by individuals. They are cut once a year. Annual yield of the meadows ranges between 2.5-3.5 t/ha. Average yield is 2.8 t/ha and total hay harvested from meadows is 1.9 M t/yr. Meadows are traditionally mown by scythe. They are raked after drying and stored in different manners: generally hay is stored in barns as stacks; in eastern Anatolia another method of storage is rotating the hay bundles into ropes of almost equal size and weight. It is now becoming common to use machinery for mowing and baling. Sown fodders are mown by scythe in smallholdings and hay is carried to the barns to be stored in stacks. Vetch is generally grown for seed production. The crop is generally harvested by sickle before it is fully dry, and piled up on the field. After drying the piles are threshed by tractor- operated threshers. Although much of the leaf is lost during threshing, vetch straw provides a valuable feed for winter. Large enterprises and state farms are fully equipped with seeders, mowers and balers.
Silage making is not very common in Turkey. Although ways and means of making silage from different forage crops [including several mixtures of them, as well as agricultural by-products such as sugar beet pulp, rose hip pulp, fruit juice by products and so on] have been tested and successful results obtained and extensive demonstration activities have been performed by extension specialists, silage making has not been a commonly accepted farmer practice. It is restricted to big private and government enterprises and a few farmers.
The Pasture Law (Law No: 4342)
The condition of pastures has been a concern of the government. The Great Assembly of Turkey enacted The Pasture Law (Law No: 4342) in 1998. This Law brings a series of new regulations to major issues of pastures such as: ownership regime, rights of use, control mechanism for management systems and so on. Objectives of the Law are as follows (Büyükburc and Arkac, 2000):
Principles and activities anticipated by The Pasture Law
The new law removes the gaps in the previous regulations on use of natural grazing by giving shared responsibilities and power to Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and to the users. Pasture Commissions and Technical Committees were set up at Provincial Agricultural Directorates to supervise pasture management and improvement. Likewise, village communities or pasture management commissions are planned to be established at the villages. Another important innovation with the Law is that a Pasture Fund has been set up to provide a source of finance for management and improvement of grazing land. The Law provides new regulations for the renting of grazing land. It aims to improve the grazing areas to raise productivity and pasture research units were set up at research institutes to that end. Nomadic grazing was given due attention by regulating the movement and grazing rights of herders. The Law recognizes the importance of Non Governmental Organizations and their role in conservation of natural resources. Therefore collaboration with NGOs is foreseen.
General Directorate of Agricultural Production and Development. Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. The General Directorate has a mandate on use, management of natural grazing; execution of pasture rehabilitation projects. It has several production stations. Contact person: Dr. Ahmet Bülbül, Director General. Milli Müdafa Cad. 20/9, Kizilay, Ankara. Tel: + 90 312 4252275, Fax: + 90 312 4252016.
General Directorate of Agricultural Research. Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. Responsible for fodder crops and pasture research. Has the mandate over the research institutes distributed all over Turkey. Contact person: Dr. Selahattin Mermer, Director General. Bagdat St. No:208, PO Box:78, Y.Mahalle, Ankara. Tel: + 90 312 3441380; Fax: + 90 312 3153448
General Directorate of Support and Organizations. Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. Agricultural extension agent of The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. Directs the Provincial Agricultural Directorates. Contact Person: M. Akif Paksoy, Director General. Cinnah St. No:16, Tel: + 312 4668286; Fax: + 90 312 4278619.
Central Research Institute for Field Crops. Ministry of Agriculture
and Rural Affairs (Previously Grassland and Animal Husbandry Research
Institute). Carries out forage crops, animal husbandry, pasture management
and improvement research. Contact person:
East Anatolian Agricultural Research Institute. Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. Carries out forage crops, animal husbandry, pasture management and improvement research. Contact person: Dr. Lütfü Tahtacioglu, Director. Gez Köy Civari, Ilica Yolu Üzeri, Erzurum. Tel: + 90 442 3271276; Fax: + 90 442 3271364.
Aegean Agricultural Research Institute. Ministry of Agriculture and
Rural Affairs. Carries out forage crop, animal husbandry, pasture
management and improvement research. Contact person: Dr. Ahmet Ertug
Firat, Director. PO Box: 9, 35661, Menemen, Izmir.
General Directorate of Forests. Department of Afforestation and Sylviculture.
Ministry of Forestry. Responsible body for grazing areas in forest
zones. Contact Person: Mr. Erdogan Özer, Director General. Orman G.
M. Tesisleri, No:11, Gazi, Ankara. Tel: + 90 312 2125600;
General Directorate of Environmental Protection. Ministry of Environment. Contact Person: Ms. Serap Kuleli, Director General. Eskisehir Yolu, 8. Km. 06530, Ankara. Tel: + 90 312 2854994, Fax: + 90 312 2862271.
Turkish Foundation for Erosion Struggle and Afforestation. NGO, mainly focused on erosion control and afforestation. Carries out pasture rehabilitation projects. PO Box: 213, Levent, Istanbul. Tel: + 90 212 2811027; Fax: + 90 212 2811132.
Akman, N., K. Özkütük, S. Kumlu and S. M. Yener. 2000. Cattle Raising in Turkey and its Future. In: Vth Technical Congress of the Agriculture, 17-21 Jan., 2000. P:741-764. Chamber of Agricultural Engineers.
Alinoglu, N. 1971. Investigation on the effect of grazing and complete rest treatments on pasture vegetation. Grassland and Animal Husbandry Research Institute Pub. No: 4. Ankara.
Alinoglu, N., M. Mülayim. 1976. Investigation on effects of some fertilizers on green forage yields of natural pasture and meadow in Ankara conditions. Grassland and Animal Husbandry Research Institute Pub. No: 54. Ankara.
Altin, M. 1975. Effect of N, P and K fertilizers on hay, crude protein yield, crude ash ratio and botanical composition of natural pasture and meadows under Erzurum conditions. Atatürk Univ. Pub. No: 159, research Series No: 95. Erzurum.
Avcioglu, R., E. Acikgöz, H. Soya and A. Tan. 2000. Forage Crops Production. In: Vth Technical Congress of the Agriculture, 17-21 Jan., 2000. P:566-585. Chamber of Agricultural Engineers.
Büyükburc, U. 1983. Investigation on the effects of fertilizers and rest treatments on the pasture of Yavrucak Village. Grassland and Animal Husbandry Research Institute Pub. No: 79. Ankara.
Büyükburc, U., S. Sengül and L. Tahtacioglu. 1990. Improvement possibilities of natural pastures of Erzurum Province. In: Serin, Y. and A. Gökkus. Results of pasture and forage crops researched carried out at Eastern Anatolia. P:8. 2 Atatürk University Agricultural Faculty Press. Erzurum.
Büyükburc, U. and Z. Arkac. 2000. Preservation and Utilization of Grasslands. "An evaluation in the Framework of the New Pasture Law". In: Vth Technical Congress of the Agriculture, 17-21 Jan., 2000. P:335-342. Chamber of Agricultural Engineers.
Davis, P. H. Ed. 1965 1988. Flora of Turkey and East Aegean Islands. V.1- 10. Edinburgh University Press. Edinburgh
FAO Production Yearbook, 1998. V 52. ISBN 92-5-004288-4.
FAO Trade Yearbook, 1997. V 51. ISBN 92-5-004195-0.
FAO webpage 2006 < http://faostat.fao.org/ >
Fargher, J. D. 1993. Turkish Livestock Strategy Study. Rangeland and meadow resources, major constraints and options for improvement. Workshop on the Development of the Livestock Subsector in Turkey. Ankara, June 1993. (Draft Summary)
Genckan, M.S., R. Avcioglu, H. Soya and O. Dogan. 1989. Problems concerning pasture utilization, conservation and development in Turkey and their solutions. In 3rd Technical Congress of Turkish Agricultural Engineering. 8-12 Jan. 1990. 53-61. Turkish Chamber of Agricultural Engineers and Ankara University Agricultural Faculty. Ankara.
General Directorate of Soil and Water. 1978. Soil resources of Turkey. General Directorate of Soil and Water. Ankara.
Gökkus, A. 1987. Experiment on herbage, crude protein yield and botanical composition of several amelioration practices applied pastures. DOGA TU. Agric. For. Journal. 11(2):348-361.
Gökkus, A. and M. Altin. 1986. Effect of various pasture rehabilitation practices on herbage, crude protein yield and botanical composition. DOGA TU. Agric. For. Journal. 10(3):333-342.
Karabulut, A., M. Munzur and H. Öztürk. 1989. Fattening performance of lambs and ewes grazing several mixtures sown on fallow areas. Central Research Institute for Field Crops. Pub. No:1989/6. Ankara.
Karagöz, A., M. Munzur and A. Tan. 1991. Possibilities of growing annual forage legume+cereal mixtures on fallow areas. 2. Grassland-Meadow and Forage Crops Congress. 28-31 May 1991. P:430-438. Aegean University. Izmir.
Kaya, Z., E. Kün and A. Güner. 1997. National Plan for in situ conservation of plant genetic diversity in Turkey. Ministry of Environment. Ankara.
Kaymakci, M., A. Elicin, E. Tuncel, E. Pekel, O. Karaca, F. Isin, T. Taskin, Y. Askin, H. Emsen, Özder, E. Selcuk and R. Sönmez. 2000. Small Ruminant Raising in Turkey. In: Vth Technical Congress of the Agriculture, 17-21 Jan., 2000. P:765-793. Chamber of Agricultural Engineers.
Kurt, Ö. and A. Tan. 1984. Forage production on fallow areas by spring and late spring sowing methods. Grassland and Animal Husbandry Research Institute Pub. No: 93. Ankara.
Manga, I., M. Altin and A. Gökkus. 1986. Experiments on the effect of long years fertilization on the yield, vegetation and some soil properties of Erzurum natural pastures. DOGA TU. Agric. For. Journal. 10(2):235-244.
Ministry of Rural Affairs and Cooperatives. 1978. Land presence of Turkey. General Directorate of Soil and Water. Ankara.
Munzur, M. 1978. Experiments on the optimum seed rates of some vetch-cereal mixtures, suitability to grazing and herbage yield in Ankara. Grassland and Animal Husbandry Research Institute Research Activities. Grassland and Animal Husbandry Research Institute Pub. No: 97, P:29-31. Ankara.
Munzur, M. 1987. Fodder Development, Rangeland Rehabilitation and Management. Grassland and Animal Husbandry Research Institute. Ankara, Turkey.
Munzur, M., A. Tan and A. Karagöz. 1991. Possibilities of grazing annual legume and cereal mixtures sown on fallow areas. 2. Grassland-Meadow and Forage Crops Congress. 28-31 May 1991. P:172-180. Aegean University. Izmir.
Muthoo, M and T. Onul. 1996. Agriculture in Turkey. FAO. ISBN 975-8153-00-5
Official Newspaper No 24045. 10 May 2000. Ministerial Committee Decision. Decision on Support of Animal Husbandry. (Decision No: 2000/467).
Official Newspaper No 23272. 28 February 1998. Pasture Law. Law No: 4342.
Official Newspaper No 24067. 2 June 2000. Announcement on the Implementation Principles for Decision on Support of Animal Husbandry, Decision No: 2000/467. (Announcement No: 2000/22).
State Institute of Statistics. 1994. General Agricultural Census, 1991. Results of the Agricultural Holdings (Households) Survey.
State Institute of Statistics. 1997. Agricultural Structure. Production, Price, Value..
State Institute of Statistics. 1999. The Summary of Agricultural Statistics.
State Institute of Statistics. 2000. Statistical Yearbook of Turkey, 1999.
State Institute of Statistics. 2002a. The summary of Agricultural Statistics 1982-2001.
State Institute of Statistics. 2002b. Statistical Yearbook of Turkey,2001
Tamer, A. and M. Özer. 1990. Investigations on the bio-ecology and control of Bembecia scopigera (Scopoli)(Lepidoptea:Sesiidae) that damages sainfoin in Ankara Province. Doga, Turkish Journal of Agriculture and Forestry. 14(1990), 149-180. Ankara.
Tan, A. 1984 a. Hay yield of some annual legume-barley mixtures sown at spring and fall during the fallow year in Corum Province. Grassland and Animal Husbandry Research Institute Pub. No: 91. Ankara.
Tan. A. 1984 b. Hay yield of some annual legume-oats mixtures in Ankara dry land conditions. Grassland and Animal Husbandry Research Institute Pub. No: 90. Ankara (In Turkish).
Tosun, F., I. Manga, M. Altin and Y. Serin. 1977. A study on the improvement of dry land ranges developed under the conditions of Erzurum (East Anatolia). XIII. International Grassland Congress, Leipzig, GDR, 18-27 May, 1977, 607-610.
Website of Central Research Institute for Field Crops is under preparation.
Agricultural Economic Research Institute
General Directorate of Agricultural Research
General Directorate of Forestry
GIS and Remote Sensing Center of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.
Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, WWW. 2000.
State Institute for Statistics
The Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey
For further information on grasslands and forages in Turkey contact:
This profile was written in March 2001 by Dr. Alptekin Karagöz who provided an update in January 2003.
[Editing was undertaken by J.M Suttie and S.G. Reynolds and livestock data were modified by S.G. Reynolds in October 2006]