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IADIZA conducts scientific research aimed at understanding and explaining the structure and functioning of drylands

Ecophysiology and Production

DESCRIPTION OF THE ACTIVITIES OF THE GROUP

This is a multidisciplinary research group that conducts research and spreads knowledge on two main areas: Animal production in arid lands and Plant ecophysiology.



Animal production in arid lands

Cattle: In this area, studies address the implementation and monitoring of beef cattle production systems that reconcile the concepts of sustainability and profitability. As a part of these studies, a “four-paddock-one-herd” grazing system with Aberdeen Angus and Argentine Creole breeds of cattle was implemented at El Divisadero Cattle and Range Experiment Station, with better results than the overall average for the ranches in the area, both in stocking rate and animal production and in range preservation and improvement.

Goats: Different aspects of digestive physiology, reproduction and feeding behavior of grazing Creole goats, and pattern of use of the different plant communities occurring in arid lands. 

The projects currently underway assess the effect of different breeding and feeding systems on the digestive physiology of goat kids and on the reproductive behavior of goats. Also under study is the selective behavior of goats and botanical composition of the diet in terms of the functional heterogeneity of vegetation patches, and the feeding behavior at landscape scale in response to biotic and abiotic factors. The results obtained from these investigations are used to develop production plans including alternative breeding systems that could be applied in years with low forage availability. Management guidelines for a sustainable use of arid land natural resources are as well being developed.

At present, technical advice is provided to livestock producers who have been relocated by a mining company in the south of Mendoza.



Plant ecophysiology

In this area, studies are focused on different ecophysiological aspects of native dryland plants and of the crops in the region. Also examined are seed reproduction and germination procedures, improvement of methods for seedling production in nursery, resistance to different stress factors (hydric and nutritional factors, soil toxicity, etc.), Other currently ongoing investigations address environmental variables that modulate root and stem architecture in desert plants, and the functionality of these responses to the resistance against stressing environmental factors typical of degraded desert areas, useful to the development of revegetation technologies. 

In cooperation with IBAM-CONICET, School of Agronomy, National University of Cuyo, studies are being conducted of the responses of regionally important crops, plant model species and weeds to the detection of neighbor plant species useful for biotechnological projects and crop management. At present, revegetation technologies are being developed for arid areas impacted by mining and oil activities. Variability of growth features in native species of the genus Prosopis is also being assessed, and “ex situ” methods for gene conservation are being developed.Advice is provided on the planting and cultivation of species of the genus Opuntia. 

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