EVALUATING AGRONOMIC TRAITS OF QUINOA, MILLET, AND FOOD BARLEY VARIETIES FOR ADOPTION IN RWANDA AND THE U.S. PACIFIC NORTHWEST
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This dissertation comprises three research studies. The first study evaluated N and seeding rate effects on β-glucan protein content, grain yield, and agronomic and quality traits of hulless food barley in two no-till farms in Almota, WA, and Genesee, ID, in the Palouse region of the Pacific Northwest during 2016, 2017, and 2018. The first experiment, an agronomy trial featuring two varieties (‘Havener’ and ‘Julie’), employed N rates of 0, 62, 95, 129, and 162 kg ha-1 and three seeding rates. The second experiment, a variety trial, gauged nine food barley varieties’ suitability to no-till farming systems in the Palouse region. Nitrogen was shown to significantly increase all variables, except days to heading, test weight, percent plump kernels, percent thin kernels, and β-glucan content. In the variety trial, Genesee environments exhibited higher mean grain yield across all varieties, with ‘Kardia’ boasting the highest yield of 3,984 and 5,882 kg ha-1 in both Almota and Genesee, respectively. The second study, conducted in 2016 and 2017, assessed the adaptability of quinoa and millet in two agro-ecological zones of Rwanda. Quinoa and millet cultivars were evaluated for their agronomic traits, including grain yield, emergence, days to heading, flowering, maturity, and plant height. Results suggest that quinoa and millet have the potential as regional crops in the traditional dryland rotations in Rwanda, thereby contributing to increased cropping system diversity. However, we suggest the need to continue evaluating a diverse number of cultivars to select for genotypes adapted to specific agro-ecological zones and across seasons in Rwanda. The third study was conducted to ascertain Rwandan smallholders’ perceptions of the government mandated crop intensification program (CIP) implemented in 2007. Data were collected over three months from 50 respondents through an ethnographic interview to assess the challenges that farmers have encountered since the implementation of CIP. The respondents asserted that their participation in the CIP was hindered by inadequate irrigation and mechanization infrastructure, lack of farmer input, and inadequate extension services, agricultural inputs, and post-harvest technologies. The CIP should weigh sustainable management practices with short-term food security needs and long-term soil fertility targets.