Barley Straw Use for Animal Feed and Soil Mulch in Ethiopian Highlands Mixed Crop-Livestock Systems
Barley straw serves as livestock feed and mulch for soil and water conservation in the mixed barley-livestock systems of the Ethiopian highlands. High demand for barley straw biomass in the system creates competition between the two uses. This study aimed to identify the determinants of the utilization of barley straw for mulch and feed. Data on the production and use of barley straw were collected from 236 households using a structured questionnaire. Use of the straw for the purposes of soil mulch at three levels, 0–15% (marginal mulching), 15–35% (optimal mulching), 35–100% (over-mulching), was analyzed using a multinomial logit model. The optimal proportion of barley straw used as soil mulch was positively affected by the educational level of the household head, family size, distance between cropping land and homestead, number of equines in the household and amount of straw production. Female-headed households were more likely to mulch less than the optimal amount of barley straw. In general, the more the farmer’s exposure to formal extension, the less the proportion of barley straw used for soil mulching. This study provides guidance for the proportional utilization of barley straw. This will contribute to the design of appropriate biomass utilization strategies in barley-livestock farming systems.
Keywords: barley; barley-livestock farming system; livestock; straw