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From weed to wealth? Prospects for medic pastures in the Mediterranean farming system of north-west Syria


  • Nordblom, Thomas L.
  • Pannell, David J.
  • Christiansen, Scott
  • Nersoyan, Nerses
  • Bahhady, Faik


Medic (Medicago spp.) pastures are widely grown in rotation with dryland cereal crops in Mediterranean climate zones of Australia. Attempts since the 1960's to introduce this system to Mediterranean west Asia and north Africa (the native region of medic) have not lead to significant adoption; farmers in the region recognize medic, but as a weed and natural pasture plant. This first detailed economic evaluation of the rotational medic system was conducted using a whole‐farm linear programming model based on the agricultural system of north‐west Syria. The model represents in detail impacts of rotation on yields, labor requirements of alternative farm activities, availability of family and hired labor, subsistence income requirements, livestock feed sources and uses at different times and a choice of sheep stocking rates. Biological data for the analysis are based on a large six‐year cropping and grazing experiment near Aleppo on terra‐rossa soil with rainfall mainly in winter and averaging about 330 mm annually. The trial compared a dryland medic‐wheat system and traditional two‐year rotations of wheat with: fallow, watermelon, lentil and vetch. Results indicate that, given current prices and yields from the trial, medic is less profitable than traditional rotations. The model was used to investigate situations in which medic would be economically preferred. Selection of a medic rotation by the model was found to be particularly sensitive to the area of the farm and the price of labor. On small farms, labor availability per hectare is high, favouring the production of labor intensive crops such as lentil and watermelon. On larger farms, labor costs of these enterprises are substantial, increasing the relative profitability of medic, especially if labor prices increase. Interestingly, the relative desirability of medic is more sensitive to its impact on subsequent wheat crops than to the level of pasture production. We also found that modest increases in the prices of
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Suggested Citation

  • Nordblom, Thomas L. & Pannell, David J. & Christiansen, Scott & Nersoyan, Nerses & Bahhady, Faik, 1994. "From weed to wealth? Prospects for medic pastures in the Mediterranean farming system of north-west Syria," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 11(1), pages 29-42, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agecon:v:11:y:1994:i:1:p:29-42

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    Cited by:

    1. Pannell, David J., 1997. "Sensitivity analysis of normative economic models: theoretical framework and practical strategies," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 16(2), pages 139-152, May.
    2. Pannell, David J. & Nordblom, Thomas L., 1998. "Impacts of risk aversion on whole-farm management in Syria," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 42(3), pages 1-21.
    3. Thomson, Euan F. & Bahhady, Faik A. & Nordblom, Thomas L. & Harris, Hazel C., 1995. "A model-farm approach to research on crop-livestock integration -- III. Benefits of crop-livestock integration and a critique of the approach," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 31-44.
    4. Kusumastuti, Ratih Dyah & Donk, Dirk Pieter van & Teunter, Ruud, 2016. "Crop-related harvesting and processing planning: a review," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 174(C), pages 76-92.
    5. Marco Percoco & Geoffrey Hewings & Lanfranco Senn, 2006. "Structural change decomposition through a global sensitivity analysis of input-output models," Economic Systems Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(2), pages 115-131.
    6. Petersen, E. H. & Pannell, D. J. & Nordblom, T. L. & Shomo, F., 2002. "Potential benefits from alternative areas of agricultural research for dryland farming in northern Syria," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 93-108, May.

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