Conservation Agriculture (CA) is an agro-ecological approach to farming which is underpinned by three interlinked practical principles: continuous no or minimal soil disturbance (no-till); permanent soil mulch cover; and crop diversification (rotations and associations) along with other good agricultural practices.
This approach to farming harnesses the potential of crops, land and soil, saves water, promotes carbon sequestration and limits soil erosion and compaction. These environmental payoffs come in tandem with reduced costs and higher yields. More robust plant and root integrity within CA systems mean greater resilience to extreme weather and to attacks from pests and disease.
Farmers are quick to appreciate these advantages when they see them on the ground: CA uptake has been increasing at a rate of 10 million hectares a year globally for the last 10 years. Experts point out that CA is not a cure-all for all the challenges faced by agriculturalists, but it "does offer an alternative approach to underpin crop and agricultural production systems (including with trees) ecologically so that they are profitable, sustainable and resource enhancing and conserving, offering a fuller set of on-farm benefits and landscape-level societal services."
System of Rice Intensification
The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is a rice-growing methodology that, through the application of a set of agro-ecological principles, invariably increases yields, reduces costs and helps to establish resilience against climate change.
Whereas rice is often transplanted when seedlings are around 45 days old and in tight clumps in a flooded field, SRI calls for much younger seedlings to be transplanted in a wide-spaced grid pattern in a drained field under an alternate wet and dry process. This helps plants establish a strong root system that produces a plant with more and better quality tillers. The aerobic conditions resulting from draining and regular weeding provide a biota-rich and healthier growing environment.
SRI is an increasingly popular way of growing rice that is spreading at grassroots because farmers are seeing the benefits of reduced costs (including a 90% decrease in seed costs), more rice (yield increases are officially around 20-50%. They regularly exceed 100%) and a secure food supply (SRI rice can withstand winds, floods and drought better than conventionally-grown rice). Over 10 million farmers are practicing SRI in 60 countries.
System of Crop Intensification
The System of Crop Intensification (SCI) has taken SRI principles and applied it to other crops. Farmers across the world have innovated with the basic ideas behind SRI to improve their production of many crop types, including mustard, sugar, wheat, teff and many others.
On this website, through the stories in our blogs and the information we link to, you can learn more about how, why and where these agro-ecological systems work and meet other practitioners who have joined the agro-ecological family.
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