Under rainfed Mediterranean conditions the dominant crops are cereals and legumes, with the most common crops being barley (Hordeum vulgare) and vetch (Vicia sativa). These two species are grown in rotation, where the cycle length depends on the productivity and the value of the products in the market. In order to study the productivity of cereals and legumes growing in various rotation combinations, an experiment was conducted during the 1982–2000 period, at Athalassa. The experimental site had a calcareous soil and is located in the central plane of Cyprus. The average rainfall is 250 mm per year. The rotation treatments tested were: (a) continuous barley, (b) continuous vetch, (c) vetch–barley, (d) vetch–barley–barley, (e) vetch–vetch–barley–barley and (f) vetch–vetch–vetch–barley–barley. Barley plots were equally divided to accommodate two rates of N fertilizer (0 and 60 kg N/ha) which were applied at seeding. Production of both vetch and barley was lower in monocultures than when the two species were grown in rotation. Vetch yield was similar in all rotations, irrespective of the position in the cycle. Productivity of barley was increased by nitrogen application only when grown as a second barley after vetch. However, in years with low productivity due to the rainfall amount and distribution, barley did not respond to nitrogen application. The first crop of barley after vetch gave maximum production without any nitrogen fertilizer application. Nitrogen fertilizer had a decreasing effect on the size and weight of barley grains. These results enable the farmers to select any of the rotation systems studied, based on the economics of the two species, without risking productivity. Nitrogen fertilizer should be applied only to the second crop after vetch in years with high rainfall.
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