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Conservation Agriculture: An Overview

ML Jat

Global Conservation Agriculture Program (GCAP) International Maize & Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT)

Land degradation- A Global Problem

Global land degradation
Water erosion-1100 m ha Wind erosion- 550 m ha Mainly taking place on agricultural lands
74% in Central America 65% in Africa 45% in South America 38% in Asia

Source: Pandya-Lorch (2000), Paroda (2009)

Availability of Irrigation Water

Blue- tendency to increase, Red- tendency to decrease

Source: Scholze et al. (2006)

Biomass Burning

Emitting 3.7 Pg C/year in the Tropics

Source: Lal (2008)

Yield decline

42% 47% 51% 54%

Evolution of the yield of crops with time (years of soil use) under conventional tillage (sandy soil), in small farmer production systems Department of San Pedro, Paraguay (Florentn, et al., 2001)

Annual growth rate (%) for major crop yields in Asia


Rice Sorghum

W heat Chickpea

Maize Potato

Annual Growth Rate (%)

5 4 3 2 1 0 1961-70 -1 -2 1971-80 1981-1990 1991-2000 2001-2005

Source: FAOSTAT (2007),

Challenges Ahead

The Challenges! Global food demand - growing dramatically as population and incomes rise

The Challenges!
Global food price - no longer tally with buying capacity of resource poor in developing countries

The Challenges!
Vulnerability to climate change

(Asian Development Bank, 2009)

The Challenges summarizedFor food prices to remain constant, annual yield gains would have to increase
From 1.2% to 1.7% for maize From 0.8% to 1.2% for rice From 1.1% to 1.7% for wheat
World-wide average yield (tons ha -1 ) Climate change Water, nutrient & energy scarcity Diseases
Projected demand by 2050 (FAO) Linear extrapolations of current trends Potential effect of climatechange-induced heat stress on todays cultivars (intermediate CO2 emission scenario)

On essentially the same land area, with less water, nutrients, fossil fuel, labor and as climates change

Agronomy Breeding


The more we delay investments, the steeper the challenge!

Science, policy makers, regulators must provide solutions!

Three principal indicators of nonsustainability of agricultural systems

Soil erosion Soil organic matter decline Salinization

These problems are mainly caused by:

Soil Organic matter decline Soil structural degradation Water and wind erosion Reduced water infiltration rates Surface sealing and crusting Soil compaction

Insufficient return of organic material Mono cropping

There are other factors that currently affect the sustainability of agricultural systems
Changing climates Decreasing supply of labour for agriculture Decreasing water supply for agriculture Decreasing farm size and the need for intensification Finite supply of sources of inorganic fertilizers (except N)

CA results if we remove these Negative Components

We need to stop doing the unsustainable parts of conventional agriculture:
Ploughing/tilling the soil Removing all organic material Monoculture

CA includes all of the other principles of sound crop management we just need to remove the ills of the past

Conservation agriculture systems

CA is based on three principles applied simultaneously (FAO, 2009)

Diversified crop rotations including cover crops (to help moderate possible weed, disease and pest problems)

Permanent organic Minimum mechanical soil cover soil disturbance (retention of adequate (the minimum soil disturbance necessary to levels of crop residues on the soil surface) sow the seed)

Unsustainable to Sustainable Agriculture What components needs shift?

Unsustainable Agriculture Ploughing/tilling the soil Removing all organic material Monoculture Sustainable Agriculture Minimum soil disturbance- No-

till/minimum till
Rational soil cover-

Residue management
Efficient crop rotations-

Crop diversification

CA includes all of the other principles of sound crop management we just need to remove the ills of the past

A Short History of CA
Ancient civilizations used direct seeding Feasibility in modern agriculture shown in the UK in the 1940s First no-till farmer was Harry Young in Kentucky, USA, Mid-1960s No-tillage was pushed in the 1970s by ICI in order to sell Paraquat

100 100

50 50

Mill. ha



US Soil Conservation Service conservation tillage First no-till in the US Faulkner (US) Fukuoka (Japan)

1950 dustbowl Siberia/USSR commercial no-till/US 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 first no-till demonstration in Brazil IITA no-till research Oldrieve/Zimbabwe CIMMYT, Mexico Argentina, Paraguay; experiments in China, Indogangetic Plains adoption Brazil plantio direto na palha

ha ha iillll 4m 4m 12 12

Source: Friedrich et al (2011)

History and Adoption of CA of the Spread of Global Overview

Conservation Agriculture

New boost: Canada, Australia, Kazakhstan, Russia, China, Finland...; Africa

CA systems have worked in all kind of environments/ecologies

From the Equator, e.g. Kenya, Uganda to 50S, e.g. Argentina, to 65 N, e.g. Finland From sea level to 3000 m, e.g. Bolivia, Soils from 90% Sand, e.g. Australia, Brazil, to 85% clay, e.g. Brazil (Oxisols, Alfisols) From 250 mm of rain, e.g. Western Australia to 2000 mm, e.g. Brazil, or 3000 mm Chile

Source: Derpsch & Friedrich, (2008)

Global Overview of the Spread Conservation Agriculture is spreading:of Conservation Agriculture

On large mechanized farms In rainfed systems In maize, wheat and soybean systems CA is mainly a farmer led process It represents a shift in production paradigm It is increasingly catching the attention of governments and NGOs There is no official data available the data are estimates from local organizations

Global Adoption of CA
Adoption by continent (2011)
Percent Percent of of global Arable Total crop land 47.6 34.1 14.7 2.2 1.0 0.3 100 57.5 15.4 69 0.5 0.4 0.1 8.5

Trends in global adoption of NT/CA

150 Mha


Area (000 ha) 55630 39981 17162 2630 1150 368 116921

109 Mha

South America North America Australia & NL Asia Europe Africa Global Total

Source: Friedrich et al (2011)

Adoption of CA in Brazil
Area of No-Tillage (millions of ha)
30 25 20 15 10 5 0 75 77 79 81 83 85 87 89 91 93 95 97 99 01 03 05 07 11 Year

Growth in No-Till/CA Acreage in Argentina

( AAPRESID, 2002; Derpsch & Friedrich, 2009; Friedrick et al 2011

Proportion of Farmers Using CA in Western Australia

80 70
NT farmer adoption (%)

60 50 40 30 20 10 0
1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001

CA Adoption in EuropeOverview of the Spread of Global

Conservation Agriculture

slide 2/x

CA adoption (2011) in Sub Saharan ofAfrica Global Overview the Spread of

Conservation Agriculture

slide 2/x

CA in East Africa: Lessons learnt

CA can reverse the rampant soil degradation CA is a sustainable way of farming in the long-run CA can be adopted by and benefits smallholder farmers Investment in inputs (herbicides and equipments) challenging to small farmers : Initial support necessary Capacity building Local innovation networks Knowledge sharing Crop-Livestock competition for residues Policy support for CA

Source: CIMMYT-East Africa program

Asia: Iraq and Syria

Increases in ZT farmers, area and seeders
06-07 Iraq Farmers Area (ha) Seeders
Manufactured Farmer modified 12 52 3 India

07-08 08-09
16 252 2 Iraq 1 18 492

31 1806 4 Syria 2

50 6000 1 Iraq, 14 Syria 18 350 15,000 2 Syria 20 Syria


Farmers Area (ha) Seeders

Man. for ICARDA Man. for farmers Farmer modified

3 15 1 India

6 30

43 2075 3 Syria 2 Syria 2

119 4918 6 Syria 4 Syria 3




(Piggins et al 2011)

CA in South East Asia

The Conservation Agriculture Network for South East Asia (CANSEA) An initiative to Develop and Disseminate CA in SEA and To do

together what cant be done alone

Official creation (MoU) on September 30th, 2009
Cambodia: the Ministry of agriculture, forestry and fisheries (MAFF) China: the Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Sciences (YAAS) Indonesia: the Indonesian Agency for Agriculture Research and Development (IAARD) Laos: the National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI) Thailand: the University of Kasetsart (KU) Vietnam: the Northern Mountainous Agriculture and Forestry Science Institute (NOMAFSI) and the Soils and Fertilizers Research Institute (SFRI) Le Centre de Coopration Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Dveloppement (CIRAD), which cooperates with all the partners of South East Asia

Adoption of CA based crop management technologies in South Asia

Country Pakistan India Nepal Bangladesh Total Area (ha) 15470 2000902 809 329211 2346392

CA Machinery Prototype DevelopmentIndia serves whole region

Since 1998, over 75 modifications/ refinement in first Pant Nagar zero-till drill developed way back in 1990s Prototypes are multipurpose and for multicrop planting systems New version of turbo seeder-PCR planter are able to drill/plant directly in full residue retention

CA machinery development/refinement in close collaboration with NARS and manufacturers

Improved Laser land leveler scrapper bucket Hydraulic straw management system (spreader) for combines Improved version of Turbo seeder/planterPCR (light weight & multi-crop) Low cost axle-less high clearance multinozzle boom sprayer for small farmers Off-Barring cum fertilizer placement device in Cane ratoon (allows inter cropping of wheat and other crops in rations simultaneously with off-barring) 2WT Relay planter for wheat / other crops in standing cotton High clearance tractor 2WT multi-crop planter 2WT laser land leveler for small farmers

Conservation Agriculture: Economic Benefits of different CA technologies

Technologies Net gain (USD/ha) Laser leveling 150-250 Residue mgt (Turbo) 150-170 DSR 100-145 Unpuddled TPR 100-250 Relay wheat in cotton 250-350 Dual wheat 200-250 Intercrops in Sc 500-2500 ZTW (East) 200-250 ZTW (NW) 100-150 Mechanical seeding of Jute 500 Mustard+T.Aman (Relay) 600 Bed planting (Bdesh) 250-300

Source: Jat et al (2010)

Impact of CA Program
In a recent Review of the CGIAR Impact, Renkow and Byerlee (2010) have reported that Indian CA program

has saved USD 164 million with an investment of only USD 3.5 million with internal rate of return of 66% highest amongst all the CG program
(Food Policy, 35 (2010), 391402) Laser land leveling- 1.5 M ha Direct Seeded Rice technology fine-tuned and demonstrated on ~30000 ha Bed planting for intensification-intercropping in sugarcane systems, high value vegetables, legumes, maize

Hubs: New concept for technology adaptation and scaling out

Benchmark sites for research on the impacts of CA

Major Initiatives with hub concept 1. CSISA in South Asia 2. MasAgro in Mexico 3. SIMLESA in Africa

Focal point for regional (agroecological) capacity-building and scaling out of research and innovation systems Regional CA networks are established to facilitate and foment research and extension of CA innovation systems and technologies

Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA)

Funded by BMGF, USAID



The MasAgro Initiative- CIMMYT Mexico

Basic research Long and mid term impacts Worldwide

Latin America Applied research Field level impact Short and mid term impacts

Agroindustria & Agricultores


Take To Farmers (TTF)

TTF is the umbrella SAGARPA Monsanto project Small projects

Results from a LT Trial in NW Mexico

Effect of tillage and residue practices combined with optimum crop management and application of 300 kg N/ha at 1st node over fifteen years on wheat grain yields with optimum management in the Yaqui Valley, Sonora, 8500 Mexico
8000 7500
Grain Yield (kg/ha)

Conventional till beds residues incorporated Permanent beds residues burned Permanent beds - 70% residues removed Permanent beds residues retained 1993 1995 1997 1999 2001 2003 2005 2007 Year of Harvest

7000 6500 6000 5500 5000 4500

Source: Ken Sayre et al, CIMMYT

Growth in Yield under No-Till

10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 0 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00

8 t/ha

30% less fert.
4 t/ha 3,6 t/ha 2,2 t/ha


50% less fert.

85 86

87 88

89 90

91 92

93 94

77 78

95 96


(Dijkstra, 1997)

97 98

79 80

81 82

83 84

Common Scale for Conservation Agriculture in the USA, Canada, South America and Australia

Developing Countries/Small Scale farmers

Three Main Constraints to the Adoption of Conservation Agriculturebased 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

Small-Scale CA-based Seeders

Second Constraint Ability to Retain Adequate Crop Residues on the Soil Surface Due to Competing Residue Uses
The widespread use of crop residues by many farmers for fodder/pasture associated with integrated croplivestock systems The use of crop residues for fuel, paper etc The burning of crop residues (Farmer feels easiest management option)

The Crop Residue Management Quandary

In many rainfed crop production systems, low yields result in TOO LITTLE RESIDUE to satisfy all demands Many irrigated crop production systems, however, generate TOO MUCH RESIDUE to readily manage when is all retained on the surface of the field Solution I: For low crop residue situations, balance the retention of some residue for the soil with the rest used for livestock feed Solution-II: For High Residue Production Situations, Find Alternative, Economic Uses for Residues and/or Develop CA-based Seeders for High Levels of Crop Residues (ex. Happy seeder)

There is no conflict between CA and Livestock: Both can have their share-an example

Synthesized by Jat2 , CIMMYT Long-term trial, Bihar India

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 Conservation Agriculture is perhaps the biggest constraint Many times, farmers are more ready to change their mind set than scientists

The principles of conservation agriculture appear to have extremely wide application The actual formulae and technologies for applying these principles are very sitespecific

Agriculture based on the Principles of Conservation Agriculture is the best option we have today for the Sustainable Production of Field Crops

We need to learn how to adapt and apply the principles to farmer conditions and circumstances

There are a lot of changes necessary to adopt conservation agriculture, but the biggest change is in the mind

Franke Dijkstra
Pioneer Brazilian zero tillage farmer. Started 30 years ago

Key Messages !
--The sun shines everywhere but, crops grows only where farmers has worked hard --Opportunities are everywhere but, result comes only where people have worked hard --God is everywhere but, his grace is felt one who serves with noble heart

CA, the Agriculture of the Future the Future of Agriculture