Conservation Agriculture (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:
- Maintenance of permanent or semi-permanent soil cover. (intercropping and relay-cropping)
- Minimum soil disturbance through No-Till.
- Regular crop rotations to help combat the various biotic constraints.
- Use of green manures/cover crops (GMCC's) to produce the residue cover
- No burning of crop residues
- Integrated disease and pest management
- Controlled mechanical traffic over agricultural soils (Controlled Traffic Farming)
Retention of soil nutrients and reduction of water run-off, result in higher water quality and save famer inputs. These practices also reduce greenhouse gas emission, fossil fuel usage, and power requirements, increasing farm revenue.
"Conservation Agriculture has proven potential to improve crop yields, while improving the long-term environmental and financial sustainability of farming."