HISTORY. The Department of Bioenergy and Feed Resources was established in 2000 composed of the Center for Ecological-Noosphere Studies, NAS RA. The key research field of the Department is at the interface of ruminant animal feedstuff and nutrition, with particular attention on natural pastures exposed to intensive grazing, which resulted negatively in productivity, soil and vegetation degradation and biodiversity. Department has been applying into the practice of feed assessment in Armenia the modern indicators such as in-vitro digestibility of organic matter and biomass energy. Since 2001 it has involved into several international activities, including multi-partner projects implemented in the frame of USA CRDF and EU FP-6.
ACTIVITIES. The Department carries out multidisciplinary research, management and monitoring aiming at the assessment and improvement of grasslands environment, quality and biochemical composition of feedstuff derived from these areas. The activities enable to control the temporal variations of biomass, bioenergy, chemical elements etc. which serve as bioecological indicators of assessment of the state of these essential ecosystems in marginal environment.
Natural grasslands of Armenia serve as principal feed resource and is a largest ecosystem of the country and has critical input into supporting the environment healthy and safety. However, these huge areas are nowadays in unfavorable conditions: they are spread at the altitudes ranging from dry steppe to alpine zones (1200-3250 m above sea level) and significantly differ from each other by soil-climatic properties and vegetation cover. As effected by environmental and anthropogenic factors local pastures are partially or completely degraded and valuable forage species are gradually disappearing and the proportions of unpalatable plants are increasing. All these negative phenomena are dramatically impacted on the quantity and quality of feedstuff derived from natural pastures.
Thus the main activities of the Department are the following:
- -Net Primary Productivity and Monitoring of Natural Grasslands including assessment of the impact of environmental factors and man-made activities (vertical belts, exposition of mountain slopes, grazing intensity etc.) on: Vegetation cover, Structure and Biodiversity; Energy content, Chemical Composition and Nutritive value of forages;
- -Study of macro-components and chemical elements in the system – Atmospheric precipitations→Soils→Plants→Underground water→Surface water (cations: NH4, Ca2, Mg2, K, Na and anions: SO4, HCO3, NO3, HPO4, Cl), with application of lysimetric method;
- -Developing and testing approaches to improve overgrazed and degraded pastures;
- -Biological and ecological properties and nutritive value of wild growing Sainfoin species;
- -Identification of exact locations of Onobrychis & Lithospermum wild-growing forms;
- -Target seed-bank creating of wild forages for the improvement of natural grasslands;
- -Creating dataset for the formulation of ruminant daily rations;
- -Developing rotational grazing schemes for ruminant animals of communities.