Backgrounder on Conservation agriculture

| July 31, 2017

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This week’s Farmer story from Zambia focuses on Conservation agriculture. To learn more about the basics of CA, our Script of the week is a backgrounder on the same theme.

Nowadays, many small-scale farmers have difficulties because of climate change. But Conservation agriculture has demonstrated that it is possible for them to succeed in this challenging situation.

CA offers simple practices which farmers can use to address the negative impacts of climate change and learn how to “farm with nature.” This may involve adjusting or changing traditional ways of farming to take maximum advantage of the sometimes little or erratic rain and other water available for crops.

Many small-scale farmers think CA can only be understood and practiced by educated people. On the contrary, CA is suitable for farmers with any level of education.

Important practices in CA include crop rotation, minimal disturbance of the soil, and maintaining soil cover with mulch and living plants throughout the year.

For resource-poor farmers, CA involves minimal financial input and less dependence on chemical fertilizers through using recommended cover crops and crop rotations. This lack of dependence on external inputs is one reason why CA is practical for small-scale farmers, especially those facing serious labour shortages.