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Water productivity through dual purpose (milk and meat) herds in the Tadla irrigation scheme, Morocco

Sraïri M.T., Rjafallah M., Kuper M., Le Gal P.Y.. 2009. Irrigation and Drainage, 58 (3) : S334-S345.

DOI: 10.1002/ird.531

This study aims to characterize water productivity in cattle farms facing severe water stress. Agricultural practices were monitored on six farms in a large-scale Moroccan irrigation scheme. Results showed marked variability in forage yields, milk production and live weight gain. Mean forage biomass yields represented less than two-thirds of their potential productivity. Alfalfa was the most common forage crop, and its yield was significantly correlated to the amounts of water used for irrigation. The annual mean milk yield per cow was low (2170 kg), whereas the average live weight gain per cow and its progeny was 308 kg. Off-farm feed provided variable amounts of virtual water which represented 33% of total water uses. Results showed that 1.7m3 of total water was needed to produce 1 kg of milk, whereas 9.1m3 were needed for 1 kg of live weight gain. The economic productivity of water through milk was less efficient than through meat (respectively s0.07 and s0.25m_3). Finally, the overall water productivity of cattle farming (both milk and live weight gain) was s0.14m_3 of water. Taken together, the results pointed to possible ways of improving water productivity, as many constraints were identified, from water management to farming practices.

Mots-clés : gestion des eaux; bovin; eau d'irrigation; stress dû à la sécheresse; plante fourragère; bovin laitier; bovin de boucherie; maroc

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