Algeria is an arid or semi-arid area where rainfall rarely exceeds 400 mm/year. Intensive crops are not possible and livestock represents the main element of their production systems. Sheep which make up this livestock feed mostly on grains, by-products of cereals, as well as vegetation left to fallow.
Using Legumes in Fallow
In these dry areas, fallow crops are an essential element of erosion reduction. For many years the importance of leguminous forages has been recognised in these areas. Legumes enrich the soil with organic and nitrogenous materials, reducing root diseases and the presence of nematodes in cereals, limiting soil erosion and promoting water binding in the soils. They also have the advantage of being directly grazed by small ruminant livestock.
The use of legumes is particularly adapted for the genus Vicia (V. sativa, V. ervilia, and V. villosa). Their association with a forage cereal (oats, barley or triticale) is common and the quality of produced hay is excellent.
The fallow is often followed by a cereal crop of barley or wheat in more humid areas.