We continue our fascinating journey within the scope of our project, where we will talk about how wild plants, growing in natural conditions, can be beneficial in agriculture and why their importance should not be underestimated. Joining us is botanist Nazgul Kenzhebayeva, who will share her knowledge on this topic.
1. Thank you for your time, and first, can you tell us about yourself?
I am a biologist specializing in plant research, which makes me a botanist. Currently, I hold a position in the Mountain Ecosystems Laboratory at the Institute of Water Problems and Hydroenergy of the National Academy of Sciences. Previously, I worked at the Institute of Biology, which is renowned for its extensive herbarium, the largest in our country. Through this work, I have gained a solid foundation in botany and strengthened my professional expertise.
My experience enables me to successfully identify various plant species and conduct analyses. Additionally, I had the opportunity to work as a scientific secretary at the Gareyev Botanical Garden, which further enriched my skills and allowed me to become acquainted with unique plant collections.
2. At the moment we have a project that focuses on the importance of wild plants. Can you tell us what role wild plants play in agriculture and why they are important to us?
Wild plants play an important role as many of them are ancestors of modern cultivated crops. Humans have long been domesticating and cultivating certain wild plant species. Wild plants represent a valuable gene pool for various scientific disciplines, allowing us to study the origins of current agricultural crops.
3.What are the main benefits and uses of wild plants in agriculture?
Trees, shrubs, and semi-shrubs are of great benefit because their long roots keep the soil from mudflows and help prevent erosion. Also juniper, ephedra and caragana fabr. also help prevent erosion. Mountain plants also act as fodder for livestock. Some leguminous crops could absorb nitrogen from the air, thanks to the cubic bacteria in their roots, which helps enrich the soil with nitrogen. Cereal plants, in turn, enrich the soil with potassium, which plays an important role in plant growth. In addition, many plants repel insect pests and can be used to increase productivity.
4.What kind of wild plants are most useful and in demand in agriculture? Please give examples.
Forestry is a perfect example of the important role of wild plants. The walnut, which originated in Kyrgyzstan, has served as the ancestor of many varieties of walnut bred around the world. Pistachios and almonds also began their journey as wild plants, but through the process of domestication, many varieties and cultivated forms have developed.
In Soviet times, licorice root was used to treat coughs and bronchial asthma. Licorice l root has 50 times the sugar content, which makes it very useful for the human body. Thermopsis, although inferior to licorice, has the same beneficial properties.
There were many sea-buckthorn bushes around Lake Issyk-Kul. Unfortunately, the number is decreasing day by day. Sea buckthorn plays the role of a living filter, enriches the soil and contributes to the purification of the lakes, creating a favorable ecosystem. Through the surface roots of sea buckthorn water is filtered, which is important for humans and agricultural land, providing a favorable environment for life.
5. What is the potential for further development and use of wild plants in agriculture, and what benefits could this bring to the environment and human well-being?
The potential of using wild plants is high and must be claimed. Currently, the climate change is a pressing issue that is being raised everywhere. We are witnessing unstable weather, lack of rains and soil depletion. Under such conditions it is necessary to engage and use the useful properties of wild plants.
There are no plants in nature that are useless. Each plant has its own specific qualities. For example, a seemingly simple weed can be useful as a honey plant or a medicinal plant. Even weeds that are usually considered useless can have positive effects, such as deterring harmful insects.
Permaculture allows to grow both wild and cultivated plants in natural symbiosis, recreating nature’s tiered structure. For example, you can plant a tall apricot next to a low-growing ephedra, and thus provide enough sunlight for the apricot, while the ephedra will grow lower.
The permaculture project offers harmony with nature and an eco-friendly approach to farming. It allows farmers to obtain high yields without the use of chemical fertilizers, which can be harmful to the human and the environment. This approach increases ecological literacy and promotes respect for nature, will bring great benefits and advantages for us.
6.What recommendations can you offer to farmers and for integrating wild plants into agriculture?
As previously mentioned, semi-desert plants play an important role in soil conservation due to their powerful roots, which prevent erosion. In addition, the roots of these plants contain beneficial mineral elements that enrich the soil. For optimum results, it is necessary to use these types of plants correctly and to follow all the rules of planting, paying due attention to planting technique.