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Conservation Agriculture: Principles, Advantage, Problems, Solution etc.

Dr. D. B. Pandit and A K M Salah Uddin CSISA-CIMMYT Bangladesh

feed the soil and let the soil feed the plant

Vision of CSISA Expansion in Bangladesh

By 2015, the project will have to reach 60,000 direct client HHs in 6 hubs with the net HH income increase of US$350/HH from the base year level In addition,
through various dissemination related activities such as demonstrations, adaptive research trials, farmers field days, farmers training activities etc. the project will reach about 300,000 HHs indirectly (5 indirect HH/1 direct HH) and, through innovative partnership with Public and Private sectors the

project will out-scale the activities and benefit well over 1 million rural HHs across 6 hub regions in Bangladesh

Conservation Agriculture is an agro ecological approach associating rural development with environmental preservation. It is integrating the whole agricultural practices & aiming viability and sustainability of agriculture and environment protection.

Conservation Agriculture (CA) CA based crop management technologies Resource conserving technologies

Examples of CA-Based Technologies

A new seeder that allows planting into crop residue with minimal or zero tillage Development of crop varieties that are suitable for zero till seeding Methods to apply nitrogen fertilizer efficiently into crop residues retained on the soil surface

Examples of RCTs
New, higher yielding varieties with good quality and resistances/tolerances to diseases and insects Laser leveling to improve irrigation water use efficiency A new fertilizer management practice that provides more yield for less fertilizer A more efficient irrigation system that saves irrigation water (drip irrigation for example) but maintains or increases crop yields

All CA-based Technologies are RCTs but all RCTs are not Conservation Agriculture

Rotovator Seeder Not CA-based

Turbo-Happy Zero Till Seeder Yes it is CA-Based

There are three Basic Principles of Conservation Agriculture

CA Principle One
Minimum disturbance of soil with a potential goal to zero-tillage

CA Emphasizes Dramatic Tillage Reductions

Conventional Till System CA-based, Permanent Raised Beds

Reduced/Zero Tillage Requires the Development and Delivery of Appropriate CA-based Seeders
India Zero Till Drill Bangladesh Strip Till drill

Comparison of Tillage/Seeding of Cotton in for the Irrigated Cotton/Wheat System in Uzbekistan

Seeding in Raised Beds with Tillage Seeding on Permanent Raised Beds

CA Principle Two
Retention of adequate and rational levels of crop residues on the soil surface

Planting Zero Till Rainfed Wheat after Maize with Full Residue Retention
Maize Residue Management Zero Till Wheat Seeding in Maize Residue

Effect of tillage and residue retention on the soil surface for rainfed maize
Conv. Tillage, All Residues Removed Zero Till, All Residues Retained

Zero till All Residues Removed

Zero Till Rainfed Wheat Residues Removed versus Retained

Zero Till Residues Removed Zero Till Residues Retained

CA Principle Three
Use of suitable and profitable crop rotations
Ultimate Goal Economically viable, diversified crop rotations that can offer farmers new options to reduce risk

CA Emphasizes Diversified and Economical Crop Rotation Options for Rainfed Conditions
Rainfed Zero Till Wheat

Rainfed Alfalfa on Perm. Beds

Rainfed Zero Till Maize

Rainfed Beans on Perm. Beds

CA Emphasizes Diversified and Economical Crop Rotation Options for Irrigated Conditions
Irrigated Soybean on Perm. Beds Irrigated Canola on Perm. Beds

Irrigated Chickpea on Perm. Beds

Irrigated Cotton on Perm Beds

Advantages of CA
Improves soil physical, chemical and biological properties Increase soil organic matter Reduce soil erosion and surface run-off of water Reduce weed infestation Reduce production cost etc.

These First Three CA Principles when Properly Used Enhance Sustainable Soil Management
Chemical Soil Quality

Physical Soil Quality

Soil Organic Matter

Biological Soil Quality

Effect of Tillage with No Residue Retention on Soil Erosion Caused by Water Runoff
Tillage/No Surface Residues Soil Erosion by Runoff Water

Effect of Tillage with No Residue Retention on Soil Erosion Caused by Wind

Tillage/No Surface Residues Soil Erosion by Wind

Extensive tillage combined with inadequate crop residue retention on the soil surface can lead to extreme water loss by runoff and evaporation
Conventional Tilled Raised Beds with Residues Incorporated Perm. Raised Beds with Residue Retained on the Surface

Comparison of Soils Conventional Tilled Versus CA-Based Zero Tilled after 7 Years
Conv. Till - Residues Removed = Sad, Degraded Soil CA-based Zero Till -Residues Retained = Happy, Healthy Soil

Effect of Rotation, Tillage and Residue Management on Average Rainfed Wheat Grain Yields from 1997 to 2009 at El Batan in the Central Highlands of Mexico (Mean Annual Rainfall = 550mm)
Grain Yield (kg/ha)

6000 5500 5000 4500 4000 3500 3000

LSD (0.05) = 235 kg/ha

Wh-Wh - Conv Wh-Wh - Zero Wh-Wh - Zero Wh-Mz - Zero Wh-Mz - Zero Wh-Mz - Zero Till - All Till - All Till - All Till - All Till - 50% of Till - All Residues Residues Residues Residues Residues Residues Removed Removed Retained Retained Retained Removed (Farmer Practice)

Rotation - Tillage - Residue Management

Effect of tillage/crop residue management on grain yield of irrigated wheat over fourteen years (from 1993 to 2006) at CIANO, Cd. Obregon
7200 7000
Grain Yield (kg/ha)

6800 6600 6400 6200 6000 5800 5600

Conventional till Permanent bed bed Wh Res - Burn All Wh Res - Incorp All Mz Res - Burn All Mz Res - Incorp All; Farmer Practice Permanent bed Wh Res - Remove 70% Mz Res - Remove 70% Permanent bed Wh Res - Retain All Mz Res - Retain All

Simultaneous Harvesting of Triticale, Baling Part of the Straw, and Removing Bales of Straw in Hidalgo, Mexico

Immediate Seeding of Maize after Triticale Harvest in Hidalgo, Mexico

Typical Countryside Scene in Bangladesh that is Similar in Many Developing Countries

Main Constraints to the Adoption of CA-based Crop Management by Farmers in Developing Countries:

First Constraint - Lack of appropriate seeders, especially for small and medium-scale farmers

Solution CA-based Seeders in India

Original Widely Used Zero Till drill Multi-Crop Zero Till Drill

Zero Till Seeder for High Residues Levels

Planter for Permanent Raised Beds

Solution CA-based Planters in China

Solution CA-based Seeders for Use by Small Scale Farmers in Bangladesh

Raised Bed Seeder PTOs Seeder as Strip Till Seeder

Zero Till Seeder

Strip Till Seeder

Testing the New Chinese Strip Till Drill for 2Wheel Tractors in Mexico

Small-Scale CA-based Seeders

Chinese Hand Planter Indian Rolling Punch Seeder

Second Constraint Competitive use of residues The widespread use of crop residues by many farmers for fodder/pasture associated with integrated crop/livestock systems. The use of crop residues for fuel, paper (potentially biofuels) The burning of crop residues

The widespread integration of crop/livestock by many farmers in developing countries creates multiple demands for crop residues
Use of residues for pasture Use of residues for fodder

Use of Residues for Cooking Fuel

Many Farmers Burn Crop Residue

Burning Rice Straw in North India
Burning Maize Straw in North China

Third Constraint Need to Change Mind Set of Farmers, Scientists and Policy Makers
Most of crop management experiences and education are based on conventional tillage based production systems Changing minds to accept crop management practices based on the principles of CA is perhaps the biggest constraint Many times, farmers are more ready to change their mind set than scientists

Conservation Agriculture: Examples of CA and CA Implements from Different Developing Countries

Irrigated Bed Planted Wheat in Southeast Turkey

Bed Planter - Turkey

Zero-till Technologies For Irrigated Wheat in India

Zero Till Wheat Zero Till Wheat with Controlled Traffic

Zero till, Direct Seeded Rice in India

Bihar Haryana

Comparison on Conventional Puddled, Transplanted Rice vesus Direct Seeded, Unpuddled Rice in Bihar

Maize on Permanent Beds after Rice


INDIA Comparison of Barley Planting in Haryana





Bangladesh - Planting Rice on Raised Beds

Direct seeded bed planted rice Transplanted rice on permanent beds

Making and Seeding on Permanent Raised Beds in Bangladesh


Chinese Bed Planter

China Bed Planter for 3 Beds

Wheat on Permanent Raised Beds in Sichuan, China

China Nonghaha Strip Till Seeder

Winter Wheat Planted with the Nonghaha Strip Till Seeder

Strip-till Seeding of Wheat after Rice in Sichuan, China

With 2-Wheel Tractor With 4-Wheel Tractor






Wheat on Permanent Raised Beds after Soybean in Kazakhstan



The principles of CA have an extremely wide application

Rainfed and irrigated conditions Sea level to at least 3000 masl Soils with 84% clay (Brazil) to 94% sand (Zimbabwe) Equator to 60oN (Finland) Wide range of crops: Wheat, Maize, Rice, Cotton, Soybeans, Sunflower, Tobacco etc. etc. even Potatoes and Cassava.

Current Status of CA-based Crop Management Activities

CA-based crop management technologies were introduced to farmer fields for commercial production over 50 years ago Today there are over 100 million hectares under CA based zero till seeding systems. The area under CA-based reduced or minimum till seeding systems is still much larger Over 90% of area under CA is located in five countries

Country USA Brazil Argentina Canada Australia Rest of the South America Indo-GangeticPlains Europe Africa China Other Countries (rough estimate) Total

ha 25.304.000 23.600.000 18.269.000 12.522.000 9.000.000 3.035.000 2.800.000 (mainly India) 450.000 400.000 500.000 1.000.000 96.880.000

Estimated Area under CAbased zero-till seeding systems in different countries in 2005

Characteristics of Most Farmers Who Have Adopted CA-based Crop Management Technologies
CA has been adopted mainly in large commercial farms using heavy tractors and large-scale machinery/seeders More than 96% of the area involves non-irrigated, rainfed farming with minimal CA adoption for irrigated crop production systems Minimal adoption of CA in developing countries particularly by small and medium-scale farmers