Scientific research

Land amelioration by growing Glycyrrhiza glabra L. (licorice)

Author: Knowledge Management in CACILM Phase II, ICARDA.

Definition of technology:

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra L.) possesses high environmentoptimizing function, enriching soil with organic matter and improving physical and chemical properties and biological activity of the soil, provides the basis for sustainable reproduction of fertility of degraded saline soils.

Brief summary of technology:

In Uzbekistan, 49% of irrigated land is affected by salinity and there are many degraded, abandoned areas. An alternative to the modern practice of land desalinization, which requires the use of irrigation water in high quantities and in turn aggravation of soil properties, can be a biological method of restoring fertility by growing licorice.

Licorice increases the contents of agronomically valuable waterresistant soil aggregates by 70-80%, reduces the bulk density to optimal (1.3-1.4 g/cm3). The roots penetrating to a depth of 3.5-4 m, transpire huge amounts of saline groundwater, lowering their levels and contributing to land desalinization till slightly saline degree. Humus content increases from 0.7% to 1.5-1.64% (depending on the plant age), and enriching soil with nutrients through the accumulation of nitrogen (in leaves), phosphorus (in stems) and potassium (in seeds).

Licorice is planted by a vegetative method (rhizomes) on degraded or low-productive land, where the production of other crops is unprofitable. Crop management is minimal (fertilizer, cultivation, irrigation). Licorice wins a competition with weeds, including reeds. In one place licorice can grow for more than ten years. At the end of the crop rotation, the rhizomes are removed and the field is prepared for cultivation of the other crops. Removing the strong rhizomes that penetrate to a great depth is difficult.

Accompanying benefits of growing licorice for ameliorative purposes is to make profit from selling the roots and aboveground biomass, which possess medicinal properties, valuable fodder qualities for feeding animals. With proper care, the roots can be harvested already on the third year, the harvest will be equal to 10 t/ha. Profit may be ca. 11 million Uzbek soum from 1 ha.

Location: Galaba farm”, Syrdarya province.

Area of technology application: 100 ha.

Stage of intervention: alleviation / reduction of land degradation.

Main land use issues and the main causes of land degradation:

One of the main causes of land degradation is salinization and waterlogging of the soil, loss of organic matter, compaction, destruction of the structure due to the use of outdated agricultural technologies and methods of irrigation, water scarcity, etc. Restoration of fertility is accompanied by a considerable expenditure of labor and material resources and are not always environmentally friendly.

Main technical features of technology:

Decrease of soil bulk density, land desalinization, lowering the groundwater levels, increase of the humus contents and nutrients, improve soil structure and its biological activity.

Type of land use Conservation measures

Fully irrigated arable land.

Cultivation of perennial (non-forest) crops - Вм(Cp).

Vegetative measures:

В2: Grass and perennial herbaceous plants.

Environment

Habitat Anthropogenic environment

Average annual rainfall: 200-400 mm.

Altitude (meter above sea level): 100-350 m.

Landscape: valley, flat.

Slope (%):1-5%.

Soil fertility: low and very low.

Humus content in arable horizon: less than 1%.

Natural soil drainage/infiltration: average.

Size of land area (ha): 30-55 ha.

Landholder: farmer and dehkhans.

Land ownership: land lease (farmers), private ownership (dehkhans).

Water use rights: through water user associations (WUA), and state manage the irrigation systems on relevant payment.

Market orientation: subsistence economy (selfsupport), free market.

Assessment

Impact of technology

Main advantages:

- restoration of degraded land fertility;

- high cost recovery;

- valuable medicinal properties;

- multi-purpose use in various industries;

- potential for use in animal husbandry and beekeeping;

- environmental benefits;

- economic attractiveness;

- demand in the world market.

Main disadvantages:

- difficulty of preparing soil for other crops after the licorice rotation due to regrowth of licorice roots and contamination of crops.

Acceptance/adoption of technology: In the Soviet era licorice was commercially grown in large areas in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, in the association “Soyuzlakritsa”. Currently grown in Karakalpakstan. In Syrdarya region licorice cultivation is implemented on 105 ha in the frame of the ADB "bright spots" project.

Reference(s): Based on materials of the workshop on land reclamation by growing licorice in 19.11.2014 (prof. Kushiev H., prof. R. Kurvantaev, prof. L. Gafurova, Z.Gafurov Dr. I.Rudenko, Platonov, D.Mahkamova).

Name of person(s) collected this description: Tatyana Hamzina, Chief specialist on soil reclamation studies and irrigation regime. UZGIP LTD.

Address: 44, Navoi str., Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

Tel.: +998 90 9945654

Email: tatyana_khamzina@mail.ru

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