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The need for Conservation Agriculture

Code: 9781786765734
Amir Kassam, University of Reading, UK; and Laila Kassam, Animal Think Tank, UK

Chapter synopsis: The chapter describes the root causes of the degrading nature of the dominant conventional tillage agriculture. It argues that the paradigm of conventional tillage agriculture is ecologically unsustainable and not fit for purpose, at any level of development, to meet present and future societal needs of optimal production and harnessing ecosystem services. Its continuation in any farming system as part of the Green Revolution mindset can only be regarded as irresponsible. The chapter proposes the need to return to managing soils as living biological systems with Conservation Agriculture (CA) as an alternate paradigm for sustainable agriculture and intensification. CA production systems rely on the practical and context-specific application of three interlinked principles of: no or minimum soil disturbance (no-till seeding and weeding), soil mulch cover (crop biomass cover and stubbles) and diversified cropping systems (rotations, sequences, associations, involving annuals and/or perennials including legumes), along with other complementary production management practices. CA principles can and are being applied to all land-based production systems in most agro-ecologies. Unlike conventional tillage systems, CA systems are climate-smart and they offer a range of advantages that cannot be provided by conventional tillage agriculture.

DOI: 10.19103/AS.2019.0048.01
Table of contents 1 Introduction 2 The ‘hidden’ reality and societal cost of conventional tillage agriculture 3 Agricultural intensification based on the Green Revolution agricultural paradigm 4 Replacing conventional tillage agricultural with Conservation Agriculture 5 Advantages of Conservation Agriculture at the field and landscape level 6 Conclusion 7 Where to look for further information 8 References

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