Conservation Agriculture

Conservation Agriculture Conservation Agriculture (CA) is a land management system that depends essentially on three principal practices: (a) elimination or reduction of tillage, (b) year-round soil cover with crops or crop residues and (c) crop rotation systems which include nitrogen-demand crops such as cereals growing in rotation with atmospheric nitrogen-fixing legumes and/or Cruciferae.

Conservation agriculture can bring about many positive benefits such as (i) reduced soil erosion, (ii) better soil water retention and nutrient availability for crops and (iii) increased soil organic matter accumulation. However, the rapid adoption of this system has outpaced the scientific understanding of the principles of CA. There is a lack of information of the impact of the introduction of CA on nutrient and water use efficiency, soil organic matter dynamics, control of weeds and crop disease and the interactions between them. Research is therefore required to develop optimal CA management practices adapted to local needs and conditions.

Isotopic techniques (Nitrogen-15 and Carbon-13) can be effectively used to track carbon, water and nutrient movement and their dynamics under CA in diverse agroecosystems. This will provide a sound scientific basis for expansion of CA into regions (Europe, Central America, Africa, and Asia) where it is not currently widespread.

Important links: