Conservation Agriculture - Main Users / Purpose

files/images_static/user.jpg Farmers organisations, agricultural specialists, environmental experts, food security organisations

Production systems are needed that are no longer extractive, i.e. which protect fields from water run-off and soils from erosion, and which maintain soil fertility by restoring organic matter and plant nutrients. The “key” to a sustainable future is to move towards more ecologically friendly farming systems that are more effective in harnessing nature to sustain higher levels of productivity. Critical to this is an increase in the quantities of organic matter on and in the soil, so as to provide the surface-protection, energy and nutrients required by soil-inhabiting flora and fauna that constitute the “life” of a soil, playing a vital role in maintaining its porosity, enhancing its moisture holding capacity and extending the availability of nutrients to crops.

Efficiency of use of water (whether rain water or irrigation) needs to be improved, especially in view of increased probability of drought and dry spells during the cropping season due to climate change and increasing competition for water between the agricultural sector and urban consumers. Unless production costs can also be reduced there will be an increasing reduction in profitability of current agricultural production which will negatively impact on rural livelihoods. How long governments will also be able to continue subsidising agricultural production to the same extent is also highly questionable.  

Conservation agriculture which is being practised increasingly in many countries goes a long way to addressing many of the issues raised above. The following simplified diagram illustrates how conservation agriculture can be applied in arid and semi arid countries.