In the late 1960s Bashir Joudeh, an influential Libyan farmer, visited SA to examine the dryland ley farming system.
In 1974 The South Australian Government entered into an agreement with the Executive Authority of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamaharia to apply the South Australian ley farming system within the development area managed by the Jebel El Akhdar Authority. This was an area between Benhgazi and Tobruk where 2000 Libyan farmers had been settled and to which, by this stage, Mr Bashir Joudeh had been appointed Director.
The South Australian Government’s contract was to develop a land use master plan for the area, and to instigate its implementation. These activities took place over the period 1974 to 1980.
At the centre of the agreement was the establishment and operation of a 1000ha. farm at El Marj to demonstrate the dryland ley farming system in an area with average rainfall of 360mm. During the period of the agreement, South Australian experts undertook a variety of other activities in addition to the farming operations, including an agronomy experimental program, soil conservation works, land use capability mapping, collection of statistics from surrounding farms, research into legume varieties, shearing instruction and agricultural extension on both an individual and group basis. These services were provided by approximately 50 agricultural scientists, seed and machinery technologists and farmers.
Corriedale sheep were sent to the project from Australia, but it was quickly evident that advances in productivity would be best made by improved selection and management of local sheep breeds.
The Libyan Story
Food from an empty bowl
Croweaters. That's what our forefathers were called for going to South Australia to scratch a living.
For some, their hardship was in vain, but others continued to search for ways of making a fairly infertile land productive and profitable - and their succcess under such circumstances is now capturing world wide interest.
Our rolling wheatlands were once covered with that same scrub which trims the roadsides. Consider this fact, and the low rainfall, and it is no wonder people ask how it's done.
Now, more than ever before, people from other parts of the world are not just asking how it's done but wanting to do it. They want to share this unique technology developed by the croweaters.
The key technological adcance has been the use of leguem pastures in rotations, which results in nitrogen being supplied to cereals.
People overseas want such things as our ploughs, harvesteers, fencing materials, pasture seeds, and cereal seeds. More importantly, they need our expertise when undertaking a venture based on the South Australian dryland farming system, and this is being provided through consultancy services.
Leading in the provision of consultancy services in South Australian Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, supported by practising farmers and private industry.
The benefits of selling our technology are felt at home through the increase in sales of machinery, pasture seeds, or other products developed in this State. Such trade is important not only for the export dollars it earns but also for the local employment opportunities it generates.
Sometimes the best way to grasp new technologies is to see them demonstrated. And an example of this is the El Marj demostration farm in Libya set up three years ago by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries after an agreement between the Premier, Mr. Dunstan, and the Libyan Minister of Agricultural Development, Mr Abdul Majeed Al Gaoud.
In signing the agreement Mr. Dunstan officially involved the department as well as local traders in a long term project to be beneficial to all parties concerned.
The realisation that South Australia has something to offer did not come suddenly. But positive steps by this State coupled with a need in other countries to improve productivity, has boosted the trade of expertise, machines, equipment and seeds in recent years.
This has relied on a team effort by State Government departments, business consultants, manufacturers, producers and suppliers.
The farming systems linking South Australian technology
With limited natural resources in a semi arid Mediterranena type climate, technology has developed which gets the most out of a little.
South Australian Technology, much of which has been developed by officers of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, is being applied in many parts of the world. In North African countries, for example, it has been found in many cases to be more profitable and productive tha the application of traditional European technology.
The State can be divided into three main zones based on rainfall.
The dry inland area is called the pastoral zone and here a low intensity grazing systems is based on a delicate balance of utilisation and conservation of the native vegetation of the steppe. The main production enterprise is sheep grazing, supplemented with some cattle raising.
The cereal zone is the intermediate rainfall area where production is based on growing cereal crops in rotation with annual legumes. This is a systems that integrated cereal and livestock production. It utilizes the nitrogen fixing properties of legume pastures to increase nitrogen content of the soil for cereal crops while supplying feed for large numbers of livestock. Specially adapted tillage methods, techniques of livestock management and soil conservation practices have been build into this farming system.
The higher rainfall zone in the southern portion of the State has a more reliable growing season. Farming is based on high intensity grazing of sheep and cattle together with some areas of hgih value crop production. the graziers in this region have developed a higher stocking system through the use of annual and perennial legume pastures.
Expert in South Australian agricultural technology are available for consultancy work in other countries. Arrangements can be made with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, 25 Grenfell Street, Adelaide, South Australia.