Land And Water Resources Research Program

Balochistan, province of Pakistan is by far the largest in size and the smallest in population. Upland Balochistan is located in South-Western (220N to 320N, 660E to 700E) Pakistan. The climate of upland Balochistan is continental semi- arid Mediterranean, with annual precipitation varying from 200 to 350 mm and a variable proportion of this total fall as moisture of snow and rain in the mid winter period or as intense showers in summer. Cereal crops in particular wheat are grown by most dryland farmers as dual purpose crop, with the grain is used for human consumption and the straw as animal feed. In Balochistan two types of dryland systems are prevailing.




Balochistan, province of Pakistan is by far the largest in size and the smallest in population. Upland Balochistan is located in South-Western (220N to 320N, 660E to 700E) Pakistan. The climate of upland Balochistan is continental semi- arid Mediterranean, with annual precipitation varying from 200 to 350 mm and a variable proportion of this total fall as moisture of snow and rain in the mid winter period or as intense showers in summer. Cereal crops in particular wheat are grown by most dryland farmers as dual purpose crop, with the grain is used for human consumption and the straw as animal feed. In Balochistan two types of dryland systems are prevailing. 

Khushkaba: It is a type of farming in which only localized (with in field) run off is generated and crop suffer moderate to severe moisture stress during crop cycle. 

Sailaba: It is a type of farming in which water is harvested through ephemeral streams, and crop complete its life cycle on the stored moisture. 

Yield expectations are low, ranging from only 100 to 800 Kgha-1 in Khushkaba and 1000 to 1500kg ha-1 in sailaba farming. Farmers expect cultivation 3 – 5 years out of 10 years. In this high risk environment agricultural inputs are minimal. 

In the arid uplands of Balochistan, environmental stresses are the main yield limiting factors in crop production. Major stresses are cold and drought in winter and the combined effects of drought and heat and a short growing season during spring. 


Agronomic Response of Spring Wheat In Upland Balochistan. 

Studies on spring planting material were tested at different sites of upland Balochistan. Out of 104 exotic entries, 9 superior genotypes were screened out with high yielding potential, having early maturity, drought tolerance, and resistant to yellow rust (Puccinia striiformis). The exotic selected genotypes had better tolerance to drought and heat stress than the local land race and produced more grain and straw yield. Selected genotypes have great potential to spring planting particularly for the areas of Quetta, Mastung, Kalat, Pishin and Muslim Bagh areas. 

The Dryland Arable Farming System of Balochistan. 

Barley Production under Sub-Optimal Conditions in Upland Balochistan 

The livelihood of poor dryland farmers is livestock dependant. Livestock is being grazed on open range lands. Due to over- grazing, rangelands are degraded to a maximum. Barley is practiced as supplemental feed in irrigated areas. Three years trial data showed that water use efficiency (WUE) of barley varied from 9-14 Kgha-1 mm-1. Fertilizer helped in increasing WUE and biological yield, but was not economical to pay cost of fertilizer. Improved variety Arabic abiad (Syria) gave an increase of 20% in economic gross benefit. Change in crop-livestock system is required to shift the farmers from poor yielding wheat crop to better yielding crop of barley in dryland for sustainability of system and improved livestock production. 

Comparison of Wheat and Barley Under Dryland Wheat 

Results of the study reveal that water use efficiency of the local wheat land race was 8.7 kg ha-1 mm-1. Application of Phosphorous and Potassium fertilizers had little effect on yields. Nitrogen fertilizer application increased straw and grain yields of the local land race by 29% and 24%, respectively. Net returns for wheat production and returns for labor were low. 


Growth and yield of a number of Syrian land races and varieties were compared to local land race on farmer’s fields under dry land conditions. Rainfall during the crop growth varied from 32 to 220 mm, and grain yields varied from 10 to 1250 Kg ha-1, averaging 350 kg ha-1. The Syrian land races generally produced higher grain yields than the local. Application of Nitrogen and Phosphate fertilizer increased yields in almost all the trials. 

The water use efficiency of the local barley land race was 11.2 Kg ha-1 mm-1, and when adjusted for differences in water availability, the barley yields were 35% higher than from dry land wheat. 

Development of Seed Drill for Rain-fed Farming system 

Soil moisture is a limiting factor in dryland crop production system. Animal drawn single row planter being used in dryland was time consuming and was not economical. Sowing at proper time plays an important role in dryland. The Oyjord planter was altered and developed for the scientific need. A tractor drawn 2-6-row semi-automatic, fully adjustable (seed rate, seed depth, and row spacing) and mounted type planter developed and tested successfully. This planter is useful for silt loam and silt clay- loam soils being found in valley bottoms of Balochistan. 

Agronomic Testing Of Wheat, Barley and Food & Forage Legumes

The on-farm testing of potential wheat, barley, food and forage legume varieties were carried out to observe the response of lines at different locations in upland Balochistan. 


The data of two years reveal that, TDM of Local was recorded as the highest  5601 Kg ha-1 whereas  AZRI-96 and ICW were the second and third with 5118.5 Kg ha-1and 5035 Kg ha-1, respectively. In biomass, Sariab-98 was the highest with 14507 Kg ha-1 where as ICW and L-Zamindar were second and third in terms of biomass with 13885 Kg ha-1 and 10877 Kg ha-1, respectively. Where as in grain production, AZRI-96 was highest with 1480 Kg ha-1 while Local and Sariab-98 remained second and third with 1420 and 1337 Kg ha-1, respectively. 


According to the data TDM of Wadi-e- Hassa (W.H) was recorded as the highest with 6666 Kg ha-1 where as R-99 and A.Aswad were recorded 6504 Kg ha-1 and 6472 Kg ha-1, respectively and remained second and third. The biomass of W. H was also highest 14497 Kg ha-1 as compared to R-99 and Arabic Aswad (A-As) 6504 Kg ha-1 and 6472 Kg ha-1 respectively. From grain yield point of view Arabic Aswad remained on top with 3363 Kg ha-1, whereas, Wadi-E-Hassa and R-99 remained second and third with grain yield of 2722 Kg ha-1 and 2654 Kg ha-1, respectively.

Food and forage legumes

Vicia produced highest TDM i.e; 5727 kg ha-1, where as LL2000 and Shir-AZ produced 4985 Kg ha-1 and 4095 kg ha-1 respectively; local land race produced lowest TDM i.e 2842 kg ha-1. From grain point of view Vicia remained on the top with grain yield of 1269 kg ha-1, while LS 2000 and LL2000 produced 1263 Kgha-1 and 1227 kg ha-1 respectively; where as Sher-AZ produced lowest grain yield.

Effect of Seed Rate and Row Spacing on  yield of Lentil

A trial was conducted to determine the appropriate seed rate and row spacing in lentil in Khushkaba, as new lines of lentil were introduced that were bold seeded and the appropriate seed rate and row spacing was known. Therefore, two seed rates of 40 and 60 kg ha-1 and two row spacing 30 cm and 50 cm were selected. Interaction of both seed rate and row spacing also reveals that 30 cm row spacing with seed rate of 60 Kg ha-1 produced highest grain yield i.e 656 Kg ha-1, whereas row spacing of 50 cm with seed rate of 60 Kg ha-1 produced more grain yield as compared to row spacing of 30 cm and seed rate of 40 Kg ha-1.

Water Harvesting and Nitrogen Fertilizer Application to Improve Water Use Efficiency

Nitrogen fertilizer application negatively affected the crop yield. Therefore, it is suggested that fertilizer should only be effective in wet years. Economic response to nitrogen can be expected only, if water availability is in the order of 300 mm, sustainability is only 5-25% of years under rainfed conditions in upland Balochistan. The simple water harvesting technology 1:1 on silty clayloam soils gave considerable yield increase, and in sandy loam soils this ratio must be 3:1. The results suggest that considerable increase in upland Balochistan is possible with combination of water harvesting and nitrogen fertilizer use.

Response of inoculation on food and forage legumes

Inoculation with Rhizobium Leguminosarum increased straw and herbage yields when water stress was less severe. It suggests that considerable yield can be increased in both food and forage legumes. Higher production could be achieved by development and extension of this technology, restricting inoculum use to years when soil water availability at planting is high.


1)  Importance and improvement

The average annual rainfall of Balochistan is 150-200 mm, which is not sufficient to obtain good crop of wheat. Trials were carried out to improve the water use efficiency at five different locations in upland Balochistan. The results of the data suggest that application of Phosphorous, improved tillage and improved water harvesting (ridging, ephemeral stream diversions and bunding) are advantageous in improving Water Use efficiency (WUE).

2)  WUEp of wheat varieties

The experiment was designed to evaluate the water use efficiency of different varieties. Data show that total precipitation of the year was 262 mm. In this precipitation wheat variety AZRI- 931 performed well in total dry matter (TDM) and grain yield, and water use efficiency was also best as compared to other wheat varieties.

AZRI-932 ranked third in TDM, but second in grain yield. Whereas, local land race remain second in TDM and third in grain yield. From water use efficiency point of view, AZRI-931 remained at the top with12.3 WUEp kg ha-1 in TDM and 4.1 in grains. AZRI-932 performed poor in water use efficiency in TDM, but performed well in water use efficiency of grains.

Catchment Basin Water Harvesting

Catchment basins were established on gentle slop (0.5-1o) in valley bottom soils by mold- board plowing for the upper portion of fields by removing weeds and pulverizing the soil with heavy wooden plank mounted on a three point hitch behind the tractor.

Catchment basin water harvesting is recommended for the valley bottom soils for productivity, improvement and yield stability where traditional form of water harvesting is not possible. Result suggested that only less than and equal to 227 mm annual rainfall in 50 % of the years. If 50 or 67 % of the field was compacted for catchment which comes to 1:1 and 2:1 respectively. An additional 101 and 201 mm of runoff is expected which gives annual receipts of 328 and 528 mm. 1:1, 2:1 and control were compared on farmers field in Dusht, Mastung and Kovak areas during 1986/89 trials. Higher yields were experienced in both 1:1 and 2:1 treatments. Data indicated that 43 mm additional water storage in 1:1, 67 mm in 2:1 and runoff efficiencies of 55 % in 1:1 and 43 % in 2:1.


The Khushkaba, sailaba farming system of upland Balochistan is indigenous and needs to be coordinated with the scientific information. Archive met data was imported and AZRC developed software package “BELINDA” used to develop different probabilities for research and planning.

The uncertain rainfall and temperature regimes of upland Balochistan are highly risky for sailaba and Khushkaba farming systems, rains are deficient, summers and winters are severe, crop also suffer terminal cold and yellow rust. The detail analysis of Khuzdar and Lorali shows 40% of median rainfall during July and August, permitting autumn sowing in six (Lorali) or seven (Khuzdar) years out of ten.

Less then 10% for Quetta, autumn cereals can be expected two or three years out of ten. Cumulative probabilities of spring sowing for Quetta are 93% while it is <60% for Lorali and Khuzdar. Low temperatures delays spring plantation while terminal cold destroys local wheat in Kalat to Lorali areas. Temperature data suggests that at Quetta, spring plantation should be started after 20th January, where as at Khuzdar and Loralai there is no serious restriction for winter sowing. Spring varieties having drought and cold resistance, short season, capable of rapid germination are recommended for the areas. Crop varieties with considerable winter hardness are required for elevation of 1500 meter or above (since Quetta is 1587 m high). Khuzdar and Loralai (1231 & 1431) represent a traditional zone in this respect. Over all old Loralai including Barkhan and Musakhail districts have better rainfall distribution.


i)   Alteration and Development of Oyjord Seed drill for ridge furrow sowing in dry lands.

ii)  Catchment Basin Water Harvesting technologies for dry lands. 
iii) Introduction of inoculation for lentils in drylands. 
iv) Introduction of Fertilizers in Uplands of Balochistan.


Key Reference :

Muhammad Ramzan Rafique
Muhammad Ramzan Rafique

I am from a small town Chichawatni, Sahiwal, Punjab , Pakistan, studied from University of Agriculture Faisalabad, on my mission to explore world I am in Denmark these days..

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