Grain yield in Kazakhstan does not grow for half a century

Many people engaged in agriculture or just interested in the state of agriculture, have the question of how the yield has changed since the development of previously undisturbed land. On the pages of “” newspaper the situation with the yield in the republic is analyzed by academician of NAS of the Republic of Kazakhstan Mehlis Kasymovich Suleimenov.

For comparison, we took the data of grain yields in Kostanay region for the period from 1953 to 2015. Given the seven-year periodicity of grain yields, established by V. Zyuzin, we broke the entire period for nine seven-year periods. And that’s what we have got.

In the first seven-year period (1953-1959), the average yield of cereals was low. In this period there were three lean years, three with yields above the average and one with an average yield. All first participants of virgin Lands Campaign remember the year of 1956, when the yield rose to 13.2 q/ ha. In general, low yields are explained by the unsystematic use of plowed virgin lands, as well as by large crop losses due to a lack of machinery for timely harvesting. The second seven-year period (1960-1966 was the same. In this period there were four lean years, and in three years the yield was higher than the average. The most bumper was the year of 1966 with a yield of 13.6 q / ha.

The third seven-year period (1967-1973) was unusual. The peculiarity of this seven-year period was in a slight fluctuation in the yield of cereals by years. Even in the bad harvest year of 1968, the yield was at the level of 8.6 q / ha, that is, it was satisfactory. At the same time in the most bumper year of 1972 it was at the level of the previous seven-year period. In general, this seven-year period was more fruitful than the two previous ones, which can be explained by the development of the conservation cropping system and better equipping with machinery. In the fourth seven-year period (1974-1980) the yield was at the level of 10.0 q / ha, that is, it decreased slightly. In this period there was one year of 1975 with unsatisfactory yield, three years with satisfactory yield and in three years yield was quite high (1976, 1979 and 1980). In the fifth seven-year period (1981-1987), the average yield remained at the same level. In this period, one year of 1984 was noted with unsatisfactory yield, and for three years with satisfactory and high grain yields.

In the next two seven-year period there was a slight decline in yields, which can be explained by the fact that that time fell at the end of the Soviet period and the early years of independence. In the sixth seven-year period (1988-1994), 1991 was marked with unsatisfactory yield. In addition, there were three years with yields below the average and above average. In the seventh seven-year period (1995-2001), there were two years with unsatisfactory yields (1995 and 1998), two years with a tendency to lower yields and three years with increased grain yields.

In the eighth seven-year period (2002-2008), yields increased by 4.1 q/ ha compared to the first seven-year period and reached the highest grain yield for the entire observation period (11.6 q/ ha). Even in the worst year of 2004, it was at the level of 7.9 q / ha. In the remaining years it was once lower than the average, three years at the average level and two years above the average. In the ninth seven-year period, the average yield dropped to 10.5 q / ha. This could be explained by the fact that in that period there were two sharply arid years (2010 and 2012). But there was also 2011 – the most productive year for all 63 years of observations.

On average, for 63 years the yield of grain in Kostanay region was at the level of 9.6 q / ha. In the last seven-year period, in comparison with the first the yield growth was by 3.0 q / ha. But this growth was achieved in the third seven-year period. Compared with the third seven-year period, a slight increase in yield was observed only in the eighth seven-year period. Therefore, it can be said that a significant increase in grain yields was achieved only in the third seven-year period, and then, for half a century, the yield remained at the same level.

There is a logical assumption that, perhaps, there are not sufficient grounds for an increase in the average yield above 11 q/ ha on our soils and under our arid conditions. Is it so? The answer to this question is provided by an analysis of research data, as well as of the best practices. According to many years of experience of K.A. Akshalova, on the southern carbonate black earth in the NPCZH named after AI. Barayev yield of spring wheat is directly dependent on the level of technology used. In arid years with simplified technology, that is, without the use of intensification means, the yield of spring wheat is 5-6 quintals per hectare, and with intensive technology resulting from the application of efficient tillage, intensive retention of snow, fertilizers and the necessary plant protection products, the yield rises to 12-15 q / ha. In moderately dry years with a simplified technology, the yield of spring wheat reaches 8-10 q / ha, and with intensive technology it rises to 18-20 q/ ha. Finally, in favourable years, the yield of spring wheat is 11-13 quintals per hectare with simplified technology, and with intensive technology it rises to 25-27 quintals per hectare, while in the most favourable years a record yield of about 40 quintals / hectare is reached.

These data are confirmed in the practice of the best farms in the region as well. For example, in the Fedorov district of Kostanay region there are two strong farms: the peasant household “Zhanahay” (head – Eugene Pigarev) and a small “Troyana” LLP (head – Yuri Malyshko). In these farms, the yield of cereals on average for three quarters (2014-2016) was about 25 q / ha. Yu. Malyshko noted that the increase in yield from the application of additional costs for fertilizers and plant protection products is 7-8 q / ha compared to neighboring farms where they are not used. He notes that the additional costs of intensification are in the grain equivalent of 2-3 q / ha. Timur Visitayev, the head of the “Visitayev” farm in the Glubokovsky district of the East Kazakhstan region, says that being the substation of Syngenta company, his farm uses the biggest amount of chemicals in the region, but this is economically justified. Brothers Kuandyk and Suyundyk Zhambussinov (“Zhambussinov” farm in the Glubokovsky district of the East Kazakhstan region) say that working with Syngenta, they doubled their income due to the use of hybrids, fertilizers and a set of measures to protect plants. However, all four of these farms have no complete fallow, that is, if they had them, then the yield would be even higher. So, what’s wrong? Why for half a century the grain yield in the region stands at the same level with small fluctuations?

In Soviet times, one of the factors hampering the growth of yields was a constant deterioration in the quality of land in processing. The fact is that each year the state and collective farms expanded the acreage of grain crops at the expense of infertile land to increase the gross grain production, which was the main indicator of the efficiency of the farm. In addition, at that time there was no personal interest of workers of state farms and collective farms in raising yields, since the property was state property. But not all farms were in the same position in ensuring high yield of grain crops. In each district were allocated advanced farms and even teams, which were supplied with a sufficient amount of the best machinery and fertilizers. Therefore, yields grew only in advanced farms and teams, and in the total mass, yields remained in the same place for decades.

In the years of independence, the situation has changed dramatically, but this has not affected the indicator of the yield of grain crops. As soon as the plans for crop areas were canceled, all farms got rid of infertile land, that is, the arable land area was reduced by 10 million hectares. Hence, unlike the Soviet era, the quality of arable land has improved. The factor of personal interest in the results of labor has increased through the introduction of private property and leasehold. Now there are no so-called advanced farms, which would have a privileged supply of means of production or would be allocate low-interest credits and more subsidies. But still the yield of cereals does not increase. Why?

Now there are three types of farms: homesteads, medium-sized LLPs and large agro-holdings. Homesteads in the bulk work on the principle of minimum costs, and therefore receive low yields. Among them there are successful farms, some of which we have already mentioned, they are in every district, but there are not many of them. If you analyze the history of formation of these farms, you will see that they all started their business from scratch. The conditions were equal for all of them, but only certain, let’s say, extraordinary leaders could rationally use the allocated resources. Gradually they got on their feet, they could interest workers with the help of a decent salary. And the things got rolling. Year after year, they acquired new machinery, began to allocate more and more finance for the acquisition of means of intensification of production.

We do not have real farms in the western sense of the word, in which the farmer was the main worker. In our peasant households there is the head who organizes production. And this cannot be done by everyone. It is not necessary that the head of the peasant household is an agronomist, all the above-named leaders do not have agronomical education, and they are good leaders and are able to organize production properly. In western agriculture, there are no backward and advanced farmers. There all farmers work at the level of our advanced, and those who do not receive sufficient profit due to small farms, earn money on other work or sell their farms.

Medium-sized LLPs are preserved former state farms or branches of state farms. And here the main reason for the successful operation of these farms is the figure of the director of LLP. In successful farms, he is a good organizer of production and an economist, that is, he spends money only on what will pay off with profit. As a rule, these LLPs are run by former directors of state farms. Many of these leaders do not even take loans. They never hurry to introduce new, hold on to where they are sure of a positive result in any weather. Such farms usually have low yields, but sufficient to generate profit at the expense of lower costs, average yield and good quality of grain. profit at the expense of lower costs, average yield and good quality of grain.

Large agroholdings are producing on a vast territory and are not able to follow the details of crop cultivation technologies. They try to run the farm on a simplified scheme, trying first of all to reduce production costs. They expect to make a profit due to the large volume of production in large areas. In agroholdings there is no direct interest of the performers in the quality of conducting field works, which is an important condition for increasing yields. Agroholdings receive an average yield or below average.

Thus, the development of a market economy in agriculture has not become a driving force in increasing the yield of grain crops. On the contrary, first of all, managers think about reducing costs, and only in homesteads and medium-sized farms there are strong leaders who are using intensive technologies that, on the one hand, increase yields, and, on the other, increase profits. We do not yet have a mechanism for screening backward farms, as is customary in the West. Until such a situation persists, the yield will stand in one place.

One might think that this situation is typical for countries with market economy. To show that this is not so, let’s consider the dynamics of wheat yield in Canada for the period from 1961 to 2014. If we recalculate according to our scheme, then it will be eight seven-year periods, while in the second and the ninth groups, due to a lack of data, there will be six years. The yield of wheat in Canada for these seven-year periods has changed in the following way: the second – 14.5 q / ha, the third – 16.6 q / ha, the fourth – 18.1 q / ha, the fifth – 19.4 q/ ha, the sixth – 20.1 q / ha, the seventh – 22.9 q / ha, the eighth – 24.6 q/ ha and the ninth – 30.2 q/ ha. During the 54-year observation period, the lowest wheat yield of 7.5 quintals per hectare was obtained in 1961 at a time when wheat was sown only in fallow land. Since then, for 53 years the yield has never fallen below 12.3 quintals per hectare.

Unsatisfactory yield by Canadian standards of about 12-16 quintals per hectare was obtained once per seven-year period. The last time the unsatisfactory yield of wheat of 12.3 q/ha was obtained in 1988. Since then, for 26 years, the yield of wheat has not fallen below 18.3 q / ha (2002).

We will not stop on the level of yield, since the climate in Canada is more favorable than in Kazakhstan. It can also be agreed that in the ninth group of years the yield was very high due to more favorable weather conditions. But, in any case, it is obvious that over the entire period of observations, the yield is constantly growing.

That is, even in market economy conditions the efficient use of intensive technologies leads both to an increase in yields and to an increase in profits. With our primitive interpretation of the laws of the market economy, that is, work on the principle of minimum costs, the yield of grain will not grow for another half-century.

M.K. Suleimenov, academician of the National Academy of Sciences of Kazakhstan, scientific consultant of the NPCZH named after A.I. Baraev

“” newspaper

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