Overview Objectives

Increasing the output of dairy products in the Tibet Autonomous Region of the Peoples’ Republic of China (TAR) is identified by local and central government as a high development priority. Current milk supply is well below demand and deficits are predicted over the next decade. Grain production in TAR, whilst sufficient to satisfy demand for human consumption, will also need to be increased to support supplementation of livestock diets (particularly dairy cattle). This project is directed at increasing household income and industry productivity and at developing community-based initiatives in dairy, crop and fodder production for farmers in the central valleys of TAR (Shigatse, Lhasa, Shannon and Linzhi Prefectures). The objective of the project is to understand and utilise the key factors affecting the adoption of improved technology, this includes identifying the attitudes of farmers, practical constraints and opportunities in implementation of recommendations, and initiating strategies and structures for extension.

Progress Reports (Year 1, 2, 3 etc)

The overall objective of the present project is to improve the incomes of Tibetan farmers on mixed crop/livestock farms by identifying ways of boosting grain, fodder and dairy production and facilitating the adoption of this technology on farms. The project builds on two earlier projects in Tibet: CIM/2002/093 ‘Intensifying grain and fodder production in Central Tibet farming systems’ and LPS/2002/104 ‘Increasing milk production from cattle in Tibet’. Specific aims in this, the first year of the project, were: the establishment of research programs to improve methods of grain, fodder and dairy production; on-farm evaluation of methods to boost cereal, fodder and dairy production; and the enhancement of research and extension capacity in Tibet. Over the course of the year progress was made in most areas of project work, though some activities planned for the year could not be undertaken due to constraints on travel to Tibet.
Firstly, progress was made towards understanding Tibetan farming systems and constraints to grain and dairy production. Surveys on agricultural practices on 45 farms conducted by project team members in the latter stages of the agronomy project (CIM/2002/093) were analysed during 2008, allowing typical agricultural practices to be reported, and constraints to production and opportunities to improve productivity discussed. This survey is included in a paper accepted for publication in Crop and Pasture Science (title: Agriculture in central Tibet: an assessment of climate, farming systems and strategies to boost production): this provides an important baseline document for this and other agricultural development projects in Tibet.
Experiments were established at the Tibet Agricultural Research Institute in 2008 to evaluate different varieties of triticale as winter sown fodder crops, and the productivity of different varieties of oats and maize as spring sown fodder crops. Further to work initiated in CIM/2002/093 concerning crop nutrition, the nutritional status of wheat and barley crops in 16 fields across Tibet’s cropping zone was assessed. Preliminary results indicate K, Mg and Zn to be marginal or deficient in many areas, suggesting that amendments with these nutrients should be a focus for future agronomic work. Animal house experiments investigating the productivity of different cattle breeds were designed during early 2009 and will commence by the middle of the year.
A crucial aspect of this new project is the emphasis on extension of technology to farmers. To this end, demonstration sites were established at two locations during 2008, at Chang Dru village, Naidong County, and at Dazi village, Medrogongga County. Two new technologies have so far been demonstrated in these areas: zero-till seeding of vetch as a double crop was demonstrated over an area of 50 ha in Chang Dru village in July 2008; and zero-till sown cereal crops have been established for winter wheat at Dazi. Zero-till sown double crops of vetch were popular with farmers at Chang Dru, and produced around 3 t/ha of quality vetch hay that farmers stored on roof-tops and farm walls. As of May 2009, zero-till sown wheat crops had established well at DaZi. The site at Chang Dru village is being used for demonstrating best practice livestock production in 12 farming households in 2009.
Over the past year, surveys were designed that focus on extension networks and household economics. These were pre-tested in two households during May 2009 and are scheduled for implementation in August 2009 - a year later than planned due to travel constraints.
Finally, progress was made during the project’s first year in the development of research capacity among staff from the Tibet Agricultural Research Institute and the Tibet Livestock Research Institute. Three project staff members are currently the recipients of John Allright Fellowships for Masters study in Australia: Ms Wang Li and Ms Xiang Ba are studying for Masters degrees in Animal and Veterinary Science at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, and Ms Pubu Drolma for Masters in Plant Health and Biosecurity at The University of Adelaide.

The overall objective of the project is to improve the incomes of Tibetan farmers on mixed crop/livestock farms by boosting grain, fodder and dairy production achieved through the adoption of technology on farms. The project builds on two earlier projects in Tibet: CIM/2002/093 ‘Intensifying grain and fodder production in Central Tibet farming systems’ and LPS/2002/104 ‘Increasing milk production from cattle in Tibet’. Specific aims addressed in 2009 (the second year of the project) were: the establishment of research programs to improve methods of grain, fodder and dairy production; on-farm evaluation of methods to boost cereal, fodder and dairy production; and the enhancement of research and extension capacity in Tibet. Over the course of the year excellent progress was made in all areas of project work, despite some catch-up activities resulting from travel constraints in 2008 that limited Australian personnel entering Tibet.
Experiments were established at the Tibet Agricultural Research Institute in 2009 to evaluate different varieties of triticale as winter-sown fodder crops, and the productivity of different varieties of oats and maize as spring-sown fodder crops. Further to work initiated in CIM/2002/093 concerning crop nutrition, the nutritional status of wheat and barley crops in 16 fields across Tibet’s cropping zone were assessed. Results from this survey indicate K, Mg and Zn to be marginal or deficient in many areas and a field-based response trial showed biomass and grain yield responses to foliar applied K fertiliser. Further work on K in particular will be carried out in an extensive field experiment established in April 2010. An animal house experiment comparing the productivity of different cattle breeds was undertaken during 2009. Further, an improved practice monitoring technology demonstration was initiated at 2 locations, firstly on the 13 trial farms in Chang Dru village, and secondly at a large scale commercial dairy (both in the Tsedang area). At these 2 locations the continual monitoring of feed and milk data on a daily basis, with varying feed rations, was monitored through 2009.
A crucial aspect of this new project is the emphasis on extension of technology to farmers. To this end, demonstration sites were established at two locations in 2008, at Chang Dru village, Naidong County, and at Dazi village, Medrogongga County. Two new technologies have so far been demonstrated in these areas: zero-till seeding of vetch as a double crop was demonstrated over an area of 50 ha in Chang Dru village in July 2008; and zero-till sown cereal crops have been established for winter wheat at Dazi. Zero-till sown double crops of vetch were popular with farmers at Chang Dru, and produced around 3 t/ha of quality vetch hay that farmers stored on roof-tops and farm walls. In 2009, zero-till sown wheat crops were established at Dazi.
Over the past year, surveys were designed that focus on extension networks and household economics. These were pre-tested in two households during May 2009 and the extensive survey was completed in August 2009. Extensive development of a household model incorporating the socio-economic and farming systems information gathered from the surveys and associated fieldwork occurred in the second half of 2009.
Finally, progress was made during the project’s second year in the development of research capacity among staff from the Tibet Agricultural Research Institute and the Tibet Livestock Research Institute. Three project staff members are currently the recipients of John Allwright Fellowships for Masters study in Australia: Ms Wang Li and Ms Xiang Ba are studying for Masters degrees in Animal and Veterinary Science at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, and Ms Pubu Drolma for Masters in Plant Health and Biosecurity at The University of Adelaide. Tim Heath who spent 4 months as an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development on the project in Lhasa in 2009 helped other TARI and TLRI staff to improve methods of agronomy and language skills, as well as assisting with agronomy experiments and farm surveys. It is planned to host another Youth Ambassador to assist on the project in 2011.

The overall objective of the project is to improve the incomes of Tibetan farmers on mixed crop/livestock farms by boosting grain, fodder and dairy production achieved through the adoption of technology on farms. The project builds on two earlier concurrent projects in Tibet: CIM/2002/093 ‘Intensifying grain and fodder production in Central Tibet farming systems’ and LPS/2002/104 ‘Increasing milk production from cattle in Tibet’. Specific aims addressed in 2010 (the third year of the project) were: the establishment of research programs to improve methods of grain, fodder and dairy production; on-farm evaluation of methods to boost cereal, fodder and dairy production; and the enhancement of research and extension capacity in Tibet. Over the course of the year excellent progress was made in all areas of project work.
Experiments were established at the Tibet Agricultural Research Institute in 2010 to evaluate different varieties of triticale as winter-sown fodder crops, and the productivity of different varieties of oats as spring-sown fodder crops. Crop Nutrition experiments were carried out at TARI and at several locations across the project area. Further to work initiated in CIM/2002/093 concerning crop nutrition, the nutritional status of wheat and barley crops in 16 fields across Tibet’s cropping zone were assessed. Results from this survey indicate K, Mg and Zn to be marginal or deficient in many areas and a field-based response trial showed biomass and grain yield responses to foliar applied K fertiliser. Further work on K in particular was carried out in extensive field experiments in 2010 with some responses noted but some trials were non-responsive. An animal house experiment comparing the productivity of different cattle breeds under varying feed rations was undertaken during 2010. Further, an improved practice monitoring technology demonstration was initiated on the 15 trial farms in Chang Dru village. At this location the continual monitoring of feed and milk data on a daily basis, with varying feed rations, was monitored through 2010 and is continuing in 2011.
A crucial aspect of this new project is the emphasis on extension of technology to farmers. To this end, demonstration sites were established in 2010, to show the fodder producing ability of winter sown Triticale. In 2009, zero-till sown wheat crops were established at Dazi. In 2010, follow-up interviews were conducted with households in Mozhugongka, Bailing and Naidong previously interviewed in 2009 to gather detailed information for use in the modelling of household crop-livestock systems. This was supplemented with interviews and information sourced from new households as well as from other sources such as local leaders and agribusiness enterprises. The information has been used to further develop the household model and to refine the scenarios to be investigated by the model. The model is now at an advanced stage of development and capable of examining the impacts on households of the innovations identified elsewhere in the project. Additional funding has been allocated for this part of the project in 2011 allowing Australian staff to spend more time in Tibet transferring the model to the local researchers and extension staff.
Finally, progress was made during the project’s third year in the development of research capacity among staff from the Tibet Agricultural Research Institute and the Tibet Livestock Research Institute. Two project staff members successfully completed John Allwright Fellowships (JAFs) for Masters Study in Australia: Ms Wang Li completed her Master’s degree in Animal and Veterinary Science at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, and Ms Pubu Drolma completed her Masters in Plant Health and Biosecurity at The University of Adelaide. These two staff members have now returned to Tibet and are proving valuable contributors to ongoing project work. Ms Xiang Ba is still on track to complete her Masters Degree in Animal and Veterinary Science at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga. Another project staff member from TARI (Jin Tao) was successful in obtaining a JAF for 2011 and is currently undertaking intensive English training prior to applying to The University of Adelaide for PhD entrance.
The start of 2011 involved a key project workshop in Adelaide for the project combined with the associated ACIAR project LPS/2005/129 ‘Mineral Response in Tibetan Livestock’ The week long workshop brought together 10 local staff from Tibet and all Australian project personnel from both projects. It was a great opportunity to bring together all staff and ensure a successful start to the final year of the project as well as to discuss opportunities for the future and collaboration between the two projects

During this reporting period a major review of progress for this project LPS/2006/119 ‘Integrated crop and dairy systems in Tibet Autonomous Region, PR China’ was completed by external reviewers. The review panel consisted of Prof Dennis Poppi (School of Animal Studies & Veterinary Science, University of Queensland), Prof David Connor (Emeritus Professor, University of Melbourne) and Mr Wang Jian (Office of Poverty Alleviation and Integrated Agricultural Development of Tibet Autonomous Region). Peter Horne (ACIAR program manager for LPS division) was also present during the review process along with the majority of Australian and local project personnel. The review was carried out in TAR between July 31 and August 11, 2011. It comprised presentations by project personnel, visits to project sites, and discussions with individuals.
The external review concluded that the project had achieved most of its objectives, already had a good record of publication, and could see signs of adoption of the results in cropping and animal nutrition practices in the field. However the reviewers also felt that, in reality, much data remained to be analysed, interpreted in context and prepared for publication for various audiences. Having lost much of the first year of the project because Australian members were unable to enter TAR, data collection was to continue in the final year (2011). Given that, and a detailed but ambitious plan to complete and publish all data from the project the reviewers supported a proposed extension of the project from the original completion date of March 31, 2012 to the end of 2012, with funding to support essential travel and other activities for effective interaction between key staff members.
In response to this the project team prepared and gained approval for a proposed extension, aimed at achieving clearly defined goals for publication and distribution of information from the project. The project extension activities will disseminate as widely as possible to key stakeholders and the broader agricultural and scientific community the findings of the socio-economic, agronomic and livestock issues investigated.
During 2011 experiments were established and sampled at the Tibet Agricultural Research Institute to evaluate different varieties of triticale as winter-sown fodder crops, and the productivity of different varieties of oats as spring-sown fodder crops. Also, crop nutrition experiments were carried out at TARI and at several locations across the project area. Demonstration on-farm trials were also undertaken at a number of locations. Data for milk production and feed offered at the household field sites were collected till October 2011.
Progress was made during the reporting period in the development of research capacity among staff from the Tibet Agricultural Research Institute and the Tibet Livestock Research Institute. Three project staff members have successfully completed Masters’ degree programs in Australia, funded by John Allwright Fellowships (JAFs), and have now returned to Tibet where they are sharing knowledge and skills gained with colleagues, and planning the publication of work completed during their respective Masters Studies in Australia.
The CAEG-Tibet model and manual was refined, translated in full into Chinese. Training sessions in the use of the model were held with TLRI and TARI staff and ownership of the Chinese version has been transferred. Model data and parameters were updated and extended through inputs from project researchers, and dedicated fieldwork especially in Duopuzhang. This was used to run detailed model scenarios (forage/livestock in Duopuzhang, cropping in Bailang). Results were presented to reviewers, TLRI, TARI and various government staff in Naidong and Duopuzhang. The model is now being used to generate data for project publications (agronomy and dairy).
A project workshop to formalise the planned activities during the project extension was held at the start of 2012 in Adelaide with all Australian project partners attending as well as the retired project leader Professor David Coventry, and the prospective AYAD Bonnie Flohr. During the workshop there was also a skype/phone hook up with staff from TARI. The workshop resulted in a detailed schedule for implementation of activities by key individuals and/or groups in order to ensure completion of project outputs. A solid and achievable training and publication plan was devised. A paper from the project has been accepted for the Australian Agronomy Conference in October 2012 entitled ‘Integrated agronomic and economic analysis of fodder options for Tibetan farming systems’. Other papers are in various stages of preparation.
The project successfully applied for an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development program funding and is very fortunate to have Bonnie Flohr volunteering and working on the project in Tibet for 6 months in 2012. Bonnie has some key experiments sown in Tibet based on grazing cereals (following on from Honours work she completed in Australia in 2011). Bonnie will not only complete this work but will also be a key contributor working with project partners to achieve mutual goals. A small number of Australian project staff will visit Tibet in 2012 for a short period of time to workshop with local staff on data handling, interpretation and formulation of key messages from the outputs for appropriate media (extension activities and scientific publications). Two local staff will also visit Australia late in 2012 for training in scientific writing, use of the CAEG Tibet model and to contribute to publications from project activities.

Project Outcomes

This project aimed to improve Tibetan farmers’ incomes, through boosting grain, fodder and dairy production. The research gained an understanding farmers’ issues associated with poor livestock health and low farm productivity. On-farm and on-station trials examined the performance of various fodder (including vetch, triticale, oats and maize) and cereal crops (wheat and barley) using different farming strategies. Animal house and on-farm experiments assessed the health and productivity of different cattle breeds in response to different types and rations of feed. Project outputs include recommendations and interventions from the research, capacity building of research and extension staff, and the formation of effective information transfer pathways that promote change on-farm. Australian research assessed management options for cereal and cereal/vetch forage crops for hay and silage production. Recommendations for future research are provided.

Project ID
LPS/2006/119
Project Country
Inactive project countries
Commissioned Organisation
University of Adelaide, Australia
Project Leader
Dr Ann McNeill
Email
ann.mcneill@adelaide.edu.au
Phone
08 8303 8108
Fax
08 8303 6717
Collaborating Institutions
Industry & Investment NSW, Australia
Tibet Academy of Agricultural and Animal Sciences, China
Tibet Livestock Research Institute, China
Tibet Agricultural Research Institute, China
University of Queensland, Australia
Department of Primary Industries and Resources, South Australia, Australia
Project Budget
$1,664,503.00
Start Date
01/04/2008
Finish Date
31/03/2012
Extension Start Date
01/04/2012
Extension Finish Date
31/12/2012
ACIAR Research Program Manager
Dr Peter Horne