Brief Introduction to the Agricultural and

Stockbreeding Experimental Station Smolyan


The Agricultural and Stockbreeding Experimental Station is located in

the outskirts of City of Smolyan in the center of the Rhodopes Mountain

at average altitude of about 1000m above the sea level. The Rhodopes

are characterized by a combination of high mountainous ridges, divided

by deep river valleys with predominant coniferous forest and pastures.

The area falls into the temperate climate zone but the microclimate varies

considerably because of the relief’s influence (altitude above sea level

and orographical barriers, exposure of the slopes). The average annual

temperature is between 7 and 9 degrees C°. The annual precipitation is

within the range of 700 to 900 litres .The winters are mild and snowy,

with short not severe cold spells due to the fencing slopes on the west

and the north. The summers are cool and damp, and the autumns are

long and warm.

The Smolyan municipality is located in a zone of the brown forest soils and their subtypes. Dark brown forest soils under spruce forests, clay sandy soils and stony soils with a loose structure and poor in



humus have been described. Soil composition favors Middle European

plant species including medicinal plants. Tobacco and potato have

been established as the major crops in the area. The highest forest belt

consists of of spruce, Scotch pine and beech with an underforest of

whortleberries. The lower elevation zone is occupied with herbaceous

vegetation and cultivated plants. Forest is rich with rabbits, foxes, wild

boars, deer and some bears. Rivers are full of trout and barbell.

The State Experimental Cattle Ranch (Farm) was founded in

Smolyan in 1928 under a directive of the Ministry of Agriculture. The

major goal of the ranch (farm) was to conduct research and work on

the improvement of the local, Rhodopes breed of shorthorn cattle. The

farm later became an experimental station of the Bulgarian Academy

of Agricultural Science. This laid the foundation for research on high

altitude (upland/mountain) agriculture and stockbreeding in the area.

To improve the local cattle breed, Jersey cattle were introduced in the

region in 1958. Breeders from the station worked on crossings of the

two breeds and as a result a breeding scheme was established. The newly

developed and much improved race of Bulgarian Rhodopes Cattle,

Rhodopes Jersey, was officially recognized in 1989. During this period

the station breeders carried out successful research on improving of the



local, Middle Rhodopes, breed of sheep as well. After 30 years of hard

work a new race of Rhodops Tzigai was established in 1990.

In 1960 scientists started the apiculture research in the Station. The

researchers studied morphological and biological characteristics of the

local bees that proved to be very well adapted to the local conditions

and disease resistant. Different technologies of bees breeding have

been tested and investigating of the vegetation composition for honey

production, and characterization of local honey also have been carried out.

Agricultural research is mainly focused on potatoes with objectives

of establishing of an adequate crop rotation scheme for production of

quality seed material and evaluation and application of methods and

measures for efficient control of potato cyst nematode.

Currently, there are six research scientists working in the station with

four of them possessing PhD degrees. Two of these scientists work on

sheep breeding, two on the cattle breeding, one on potatoes and one

the bee selection. Other staff at the station includes 10 more involved

in research activities and 17 people in the production base. The station

has a specialized laboratory conducting tests of forage, diary and bee

products. The station has a library, reading room and a conference room.

Current research is mainly focused on five projects in collaboration

with the Institute of Mountain Stockbreeding and Agriculture in Troyan

and the Institute of Cattle Breeding in Kostinbrod:

  • Improving and consolidation nucleus of the Bulgarian Rhodopes race of cattle through interlinear selection /breeding/.

  • Improving of breeding scheme of sheep race “Tzigai” in the Rhodopes.

  • Studying of the feed value of the ecological pure forage mixtures on a natural grassland at different altitudes in the region of the Middle Rhodopes Mountain.

  • New technologies for growing production and manufacturing of the fruit from small fruit and fruit-medicinal /officinal / cultures under climate conditions in the Rhodopes massif.

  • Working out technologies for an effective growing of the bee families. A breeding of the local bee race in the Middle Rhodopi.

     The Station scientists are also involved in some projects with
     international collaborators. These projects include:


  • Influence of the altitude and botanical content of flora on the milk

    productivity of the local sheep (races) in the Middle Rhodopes Mountains

    and the Carpathians with the National Research-Development Institute

    for Animal Biology and Nutrition (IBNA) in Balotesti, Romania.

  • New ecological aspects in the healthy nutrition in endemic

    border regions with respect to protection of organism with inorganic

    supplements for production of milk products and their varieties

    promoting and sustaining the health of human with the Institute of

    Stockbreeding Science in Switzerland.


     Priority for future research will be given to preservation and

maintenance of the valuable local races of cattle, sheep and bees and their

future improvement, and production of quality breeding material from

Bulgarian Rhodopes Cattle race that is stable in the next generations.

    The Experimental Production Base of the station maintains herds

of cows from “Bulgarian Rhodopes Cattle” race, sheep from the

“Rhodopes Tzigai” and “Karacachanska” races, and bees from the

“Middle Rhodopes” race, registered by the National breeding fund /stock/.

The Еxperimental station, Smolyan, offers consulting and extension

services for the farmers of the region on the problems of the mountain

stockbreeding and agriculture including:

  • Selection and breeding of cattle for beef and milk.

  • Technologies for growing and utilization of forage cultures and forage mixtures.

  • Technologies for production of seed material of potatoes and small

  • fruit /raspberry, black curent, aronia / and some medicinal plants.


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