What is Conservation Agriculture (CA)

CA is a set of soil management practices that minimize the disruption of the soil's structure, composition and natural biodiversity. Despite high variability in the types of crops grown and specific management regimes, all forms of conservation agriculture share three core principles. These include:

CA also uses or promotes where possible or needed various management practices listed below:

When these CA practices are used by farmers one of the major environmental benefits is reduction in fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. But they also reduce the power/energy needs of farmers who use manual or animal powered systems.

Other Important Definitions

Conservation agriculture is largely the product of the collective efforts of a number of previous agricultural movements, including no-till agriculture, agroforestry, green manures/cover crops, direct planting/seeding, integrated pest management, and conservation tillage among many others. Yet CA is distinct from each of these so-called agricultural packages, even as it draws upon many of their core principles. This is because CA uses many of the available technologies in unison, resulting in something many believe to be much greater than the "sum of its parts."

The following terms are often confused with conservation agriculture:

CA is often used synonymously with ZT that is also believed to require heavy implements and large tractors. However, CA can be used by farmers with large or small holdings as follows:

Farmers who do not own tractors can also avail of the tractor powered systems through use of hiring or service providers, a common system for plowing in many developing countries.

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