Integrated soil, water and nutrient management for conservation agriculture - D1.50.09


The overall objective is to enhance the productivity and sustainability of farming systems through a better understanding of the principles and practice of conservation agriculture. More specifically, the investigation should be focused to the individual and interactive effects of conservation tillage practices, residue management, crop rotations, nutrient and water inputs on soil organic matter stocks, resource use efficiency, agricultural productivity and environmental quality.


This CRP was formulated on the basis of recommendation of a Consultants' Meeting held in Iguasu Falls, Brazil, in August 2003. Proposals for research contracts and agreements were received in 2004. The CRP team comprises ten participants, i.e. one research agreement (Mexico), one technical contract (Chile) and eight research contracts (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, India, Morocco, Pakistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan). In addition, one individual contract (Kenya) provides further technical backstopping. The first Research Co-ordination Meeting was held in Vienna, 13-17 June 2005. The participants presented their work plan and the results they obtained so far. The on-going projects involve several cropping systems (legumes, small grains, cotton, maize), in monoculture or in rotations, different tillage practices ranging from conventional to no-tillage as well as fertilizing adaptations to investigate the impacts of these factors on carbon and nutrient (N and P) dynamics, water use efficiency and soil erosion using appropriate isotope techniques.

The second RCM was held in Rabat, Morocco, 11-15 September 2006. Results presented at this RCM demonstrate the advance of CRP. The major achievements were the quantitative data on effect of soil conservation agriculture on crop and soil gained through the use of nuclear technology (15N, 13C and neutron probe). The meeting outlined further priorities for next period of CRP, and formulated the work plan for future period of 2007-2008. Attention will be paid especially to standardisation of terminology, elaboration of standardised experimental protocols, implementation of modelling and collection of data on economic effects of soil conservation practices. The CRP has created so far an interesting database on soil-water-plant interrelationships in conservation agriculture. This database which will be expanded with the following years of the CRP will provide valuable information on the long-term impact of conservation agriculture.

The third RCM was held in Ankara, Turkey, on 14-18 April 2008. Data acquired so far by the CRP team indicates that CA conserves soil moisture, reduces soil organic matter mineralization, and improves biological nitrogen (N) fixation. The team further improved protocols to assess soil organic carbon dynamics. Dissemination of the results was discussed in terms of publication and bringing datasets from different participants together, covering topics such as carbon dynamics, biological N fixation, and N-water interaction under CA management.

The fourth and final Research Coordination Meeting (RCM) of this CRP was held at IAEA Headquarters in Vienna, from 5 - 9 October 2009.

The CRP has created an interesting database on soil-water-plant relationships in conservation agriculture. New methodologies and research protocols based on isotopic and related techniques were introduced into the research schemes. Integration of the different results from many diverse agro-ecological areas made it possible to gain insights into cross-cutting processes related to conservation agriculture and also supports and assists with the interpretation and explanation of site-specific results. This understanding will help to improve conservation agriculture systems across the world through implementation of projects under IAEA's Technical Cooperation Programme. The CRP was also linked to several PhD and MSc dissertations and will form the basis for joint group publications at national and regional levels. Manuscripts for the IAEA-TECDOC of this CRP are now under review.


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  • Report of the Consultants' Meeting, Foz de Iguasu, Brazil, 2003. [Download pdf]
  • Report of the First RCM, Vienna, Austria, 2003. [Download pdf]
  • Report of the Second RCM, Rabat, Marocco, 2006. [Download pdf]
  • Report of the Third RCM, Ankara, Turkey, 2008. [Download pdf]

Project Officer:

Gerd Dercon and Minh Long Nguyen