Land Husbandry Press Releases & News

UK growers missing out on the benefits of zero tillage

Only 3% of the UK arable area is farmed using Conservation Agriculture (zero tillage), much lower than other parts of the world. Anthony Pope argues why more farmers should consider this approach - read his article, which was prepared after his visit to Tony Reynolds farm with a TAA group.

The Value of Land

Land degradation is an increasing issue globally, exacerbated by climate change and affecting food security, threatening water resources and ultimately acting as a driver to migration. The Economics of Land Degradation (ELD) study quantifies the costs of land degradation and sets out a universal approach for quantifying the economic benefits of sustainable land management. It aims to enable decision makers to better understand the overall costs and benefits when implementing policies and actions dealing with land. The Economics of Land Degradation (ELD) Initiative is a platform for discussion between stakeholders, that focuses on developing globally-relevant data on the economic benefits of land and land-based ecosystems. The initiative has compiled specific reports: one primary main report, and a parallel report geared towards policy and decision-makers, downloadable as 'The Value of Land''ELD report for policy & decision makers'.

The Farms of Change

Agriculture for Impact launched the Montpellier Panel Report on 25th September 2015 on The Farms of Change: African smallholders responding to an uncertain climate future. A download of the report is available on the Agriculture for Impact ‘publications’ pages.

DFID Policy on Agriculture

DFID intends to publish a summary policy framework on agriculture by the beginning of 2016. See also DFID’s "Thinking and Approach to Agriculture", March 2015.

CA Manual for the Middle East

This was published by ICARDA in 2015, being the last output of the ACIAR funded Iraq project. Atef Haddad is currently working an Arabic version.The Practical Implementation of Conservation Agriculture in the Middle East,
 2015, by Stephen Loss, Atef Haddad, Jack Desbiolles, Harun Cicek, Yaseen Khalil and Colin Piggin. Click here to view the Manual

Growing Food – a Guide to Food Production

This comprehensive manual covers details of how to grow food crops in the tropics and sub-tropics, from mung beans to avocados. The author, Tony Winch, worked in agriculture and development aid projects (mostly in Africa) for Oxfam and then the Red Cross. His 333 page manual was published by Springer of the Netherlands in 2007 as a guide for farmers and field workers. Click here to download a pdf version. 

Saguna Rice Technique (SRT)

A movement called Saguna Rice Technique (SRT) has started in Maharashtra, India, and is about to spread like wild fire. It's about growing rice. It's by the weakest member of the society without depending on any help from outside. It's achieving food security by improving soil fertility; fixing carbon from environment to soil and netting multiple benefits of carbon sequestration. It's showing resilient crop stand that hypnotizes the farmer with eternal joy which glues the family to their rice fields. In short SRT is bringing back the confidence of rice growing farmers.

This is an environment friendly Conservation Agriculture (CA) method. SRT stands for Saguna Rice Technique which is growing rice without ploughing, puddling and transplanting which reduces major drudgery of farmers. In this system, minimum of 2nd crop in the same plot is possible on residual moisture even if irrigation is not available and two more crops after rice is possible if irrigation is available. This increases the land efficiency 2 to 3 times and keeps the land covered with green plants for at least 120-130 extra days which was even beyond imagination.

Few pictures of SRT plots have also been attached to this message. 
Please click here for more details. 
Or contact Shekhar Bhadsavle.

Soil Restoration Farming (SRF)

To mark the International Year of Soils, ‘Soil Restoration Farming’ forums will be held across Australia, commencing with two events in Western Australia in March 2015 - one in the northern ag region (Dongara 19th March) and one in the south (Kojonup 24th March). Over-arching theme: activating soil biology through photosynthesis, biodiversity and bio-stimulants to restore soil health and improve farm profit. Also, read recent articles on Soil Carbon by Christine Jones.

International Soil Conservation Organisation (ISCO) Proceedings 

Proceedings of the ISCO conferences have now been put online, click here for details.

New ‘open source technology’ designs for small land holder CA

Barney Muckle, a practical agriculture engineer living and working in Kenya, has informed us of a new design for an inexpensive jab-planter. The planter consists of two spears connected to tubes with funnels and separated by 50mm to avoid direct contact of the seed and fertiliser.  It forms two side-by-side holes in which seed and fertilizer can be placed for optimum utilization.  It is simple, being only one stage up from the traditional machete but without any moving parts, yet will plant both seed and fertiliser in a precise manner through the mulch layer into the soil. The new ‘low energy’ requirement design is particularly suitable to women farmers.  A single handle is used to control the positioning of the tool while a foot operated pedal forces the spears through the mulch layer into the soil. See the video (click on the 'HAND TOOLS' menu). Downloadable PDF documents of the plans are available, along with some photos and instructions. There are also some simple but effective hand and animal drawn tools which have been developed and can be reproduced by the informal metal working sector artisans, using locally available raw materials. Drawings of many are available as pdf files in black and white in order to reduce the cost of printing. Tom Goddard, Senior Policy Advisor, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development 

First Conference on Land Policy in Africa

The conference was held in Addis Ababa in November 2014, organised by the African Union. Future Agricultures members and colleagues have written a series of posts for the blog. They explore what the next decade holds for land policy, land rights and the role of foreign investment – and the implications for farmers, communities and agricultural development. Read the articles.

Climate Smart Agriculture/Conservation Agriculture

Briefing note from FAO is available online 

Smallholders benefit from conservation farming in Nicaragua

In the Nueva Segovia region of Nicaragua, P4P is supporting farmers’ organizations to utilize low-cost, environment-friendly techniques and technologies. These sustainable practices, which include minimal tillage farming and the use of organic materials in soil enrichment, are enabling smallholders to benefit from increased yields, improved crop quality and reduced production costs. Read the article.

Sustainable soil management is more than what & how crops are grown

Read the chapter by TAA members on sustainable soil management, published in the book by Lal and Stewart, 2013: Principles of Sustainable Soil Management in Agroecosystems. Edited by Lal, R. and Stewart, B.A. pp. 337-399. Advances in Soil Science. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, Boca Raton, Florida, USA. Chapter 14: Kassam, A., Basch, G., Friedrich, T, Shaxson, F. et al. (2013). Sustainable soil management is more than what and how crops are grown.

Top 5 need-to-knows about Conservation Agriculture

Facing climate change and nine billion mouths to feed by 2050, Conservation Agriculture is key to the future of food security. Read more 

CA Update Link, Cornell University

The "In the Spotlight” webpages provide links to some of the latest Conservation Agriculture (CA) research papers. They offer search facilities to various research databases that contain good CA papers. New papers will be added every month. Peter Hobbs, Cornell University.

Proceedings from 6th World Congress on Conservation Agriculture 

Presentations and abstracts from the 6th World Congress on Conservation Agriculture (West Lafayette, Ind. August 2, 2014) – are available on the Conservation Technology Information Center's (CTIC) website. The over 40 presentations and 140 abstracts include subjects such as:

  • European perspectives on conservation agriculture;
  • The biological potential of grain-producing soils in Australia;
  • Using conservation agriculture to alleviatefood insecurityin Malawi;
  • Crop-livestock integration in agricultural conservation systems;
  • Nitrogen-cycling bacteria under continuous no-till cotton in western Tennessee;
  • The use of educational tools such as video to educate farmers about conservation agriculture;
  • The dynamics of soil organic matter, organic carbon and organic nitrogen under no-till;
  • and many more.......

Click here to view the proceedings.

Glyphosate Effects

Glyphosate Effects on Plant Mineral Nutrition, Crop Rhizosphere Microbiota, and Plant Disease in Glyphosate-Resistant Crops, by Duke et al. J Agric Food Chem. Oct 24, 2012; 60(42): 10375–10397.
Published online Sep 26, 2012.

Unploughed fields take edge off heatwaves

‘No-till’ farming — in which seeds are sown into fields without first ploughing them — could help to lower temperatures near croplands by up to 2 °C, researchers report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Read more

How to prevent the next "Global Dust Bowl"? 

The interdisciplinary KULUNDA project is a part of the BMBF research program, ‘Sustainable Land Management’, Module A1 ‘Interaction between land management, climate change and ecosystem services’. The project offers Ecological and Economic Strategies for Sustainable Land Management in the Russian Steppes: A Potential Solution to Climate Change.

Hong Kong Hydroponics Farm Owner Cuts Energy Costs by 25% in his Greenhouse

Henry Ngai Hon-shun, owner of 0.27 hectare hydroponics farm in Hong Kong decided to opt on a solar power to slash his carbon footprint and energy costs by a quarter in his greenhouse. His action comes after warnings from the government that an increase in electricity demand will force prices to rise. Read more in Soilless Newsletter

Evidence on Demand

'Evidence on Demand’ is a DFID-supported international development information hub, providing access to quality assured resources relating to climate & environment, infrastructure and livelihoods. The service has been established to provide a wealth of relevant documents, learning resources and technical expertise to help those on the front line of poverty reduction make evidence-based decisions, while also informing the wider development community. Evidence on Demand produces ‘Topic Guides’. A ‘Topic Guide on Agricultural Productivity’ has just been released (directly download here). Topic Guides are freely available, written by an expert in the field, peer reviewed and formally approved by DFID, providing an excellent knowledge resource. Please send feedback on the Guides and any suggestions by email.

Sustainable Intensification and Conservation Agriculture

New book. By Amir Kassam, Moderator, Global Platform for CA Community of Practice, FAO, Italy, Convener, Land Husbandry Group, Tropical Agriculture Association, UK & Visiting Professor, School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading, UK. Click for detailsDate: 01/10/2013. 

USDA Helps Landowners Manage for Soil Health & Buffer Drought Effects

Two farms have the same soils, same crops and same precipitation. The difference is that one farm uses many conservation practices that help improve soil health helping it thrive through extreme weather conditions (read more). Soil health is always important, but extreme weather in the last few years has shown landowners just how important managing for it really is. "The vital part of soil is topsoil, which unfortunately is also the part most susceptible to the effects of weather. That’s what makes protecting it so crucial,” said Doug Miller, soil health coordinator with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Minnesota.

One percent of organic matter in the top 150 mm of soil can hold about 250 litres of water per hectare. Increasing organic matter increases the holding capacity for water making your land more resilient to extreme weather. NRCS identified four principles that help improve soil health:
1. Keep soil covered as much as possible.
2. Use plant diversity to increase diversity in the soil.
3. Keep living roots in the soil as long as possible.
4. Disturb the soil as little as possible. Managing for soil health can help increase productivity and profits, decrease inputs and improve sustainability for farms and ranches. NRCS has more information on drought resources and soil health. Also, complete information on drought and disaster resources is available on the USDA website.

Promusa - research & development in Bananas 

ProMusa, in alliance with ISHS, publishes InfoMus@, the newsletter of the banana R&D community. It offers a mix of news and analyses on topical issues with links to events and resources available from the ProMusa website. If you have problems reading this email, view it in your web browser. Explore Musapedia, the compendium of knowledge on bananas.

No-till and SRI in India

The Hindu article "On a revitalizing note" on January 27, 2013.  Armed with an alternative farming method that cuts down on water consumption and costs, farmers in Haryana’s Karnal district are enhancing productivity

Below please find link to the article written by Amita Bhaduri (from India Water Portal). No-till agriculture, an alternative farming method, which helps prevent soil depletion as well as uses water efficiently, is being used successfully by farmers in Haryana.

Evaluating conservation agriculture for small-scale farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia

A special issue on Conservation Agriculture research in the Journal of Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment Volume 187, Pages 1-182 (1 April 2014). Open Access Journal . Edited by James R. Stevenson, Rachid Serraj and Kenneth G. Cassman

First Africa Congress on Conservation Agriculture

The joint Declaration of the April 2014 Congress in Lusaka, bears the motto of "Turning Conservation Agriculture Knowledge into Action”, to identify whatever small intervention each of us can make, to enhance adaptation and adoption of CA. The organisers have receive much positive feedback and will soon open an Online Discussion Forum. (Saidi Mkomwa, Executive Secretary,
African Conservation Tillage Network).

No-till farming and the Search for Sustainability in Dryland Agriculture

The seminar arranged at IIED London on 28th March 2014 by the TAA LH Group and given by Bill Crabtree on CA experiences in Western Australia is available an IIED blog about the seminar and a video-interview with Bill Crabtree.

Great Lakes Cover Crop Initiative

This project, which was funded by EPA's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and ran from 2010-2013, demonstrated the effectiveness of cover crops and conservation tillage systems to decrease agricultural nonpoint source pollution and inform producers about the economic benefits of the systems. CTIC and partners assisted agricultural producers in the Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, and Lake Huron watersheds with implementation of cover crops and conservation tillage systems on 36,970 acres. Producers received technical, educational and social support to fully understand the benefits of cover crops and conservation tillage, to correctly incorporate the practices into their operation, to evaluate the changes and adapt management to optimize yield and resource protection. By providing this three-tiered support, the project built producer capacity to effectively manage, adapt and commit to the long-term implementation of these conservation practices. Read more

Consultative Workshop on Conservation Agriculture

Report of the workshop held in Nairobi in November 2013, organized by the African Conservation Tillage (ACT) Network. Click here to read.

4th International Conservation Agriculture Conference in SE Asia: papers

To access the presentations made at the Conservation Agriculture Conference at the University of Battambang, Battambang, Cambodia, December 9 to 13, 2013, please click here.

Fungi may determine the future of soil carbon.

When scientists discuss global change, they often focus on the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and vegetation. But soil contains more carbon than air and plants combined. This means that even a minor change in soil carbon could have major implications for the Earth's atmosphere and climate. New research by Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute scientist Benjamin Turner and colleagues points to an unexpected driver of soil carbon content: fungi. Read more.

Cisgenics - a new GM approach


A new, less intrusive way of genetically engineering plants would help to feed the world’s growing population but is at risk from the same "Luddite attitudes” blocking GM crops, according to a farming industry report.

Rewiring metabolism to improve crop yield in Africa


News from the Sixth International Meeting on Synthetic Biology (July 2013, Imperial College), illustrates how new technologies are being applied to an old problem in African farming - Striga.

Microbial fermentation has been exploited by humans for millenia for the production of food, fuel, and chemicals. Despite intense research efforts, the spectrum of compounds produced in this way is still limited to either naturally occuring fermentative pathways or shows low yields due to genetic regulatory contraints imposed by the host strain. I will discuss our efforts in designing synthetic metabolism and rewiring regulatory architectures in microbial cells to allow high yield production of compounds. As an exemplar, we have engineered a synthetic pathway to the plant hormone strigolactone as a step towards improving crop yield. The parasitic weed species of the Striga genus are among the major biotic stresses on crop yield in Africa, affecting staples such as maize, sorghum, rice, and cowpea. Striga seeds lie dormant in soil until they detect the plant hormone strigolactone, which induces seed germination and attachment of the weed to host roots. The application of strigolactone to farmland before planting can induce ‘suicidal’ germination of Striga seeds. However, the high cost of chemical synthesis of strigolactone has precluded the use of this strategy in the field. The low cost, microbial production of strigolactone can be used in a program of Striga eradication from arable land in Africa.

Enrich Your Soils – Organic Matter Key to Soil Fertility

Farmers and industry are invited to come along to a day of discussion on improving the fertility of soils with an emphasis on organic matter and soil biota.

The Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) is running eight events across the East of the country looking at the importance and benefits of organic matter. Read more...

Agriculture Leaders Announce a Partnership to Promote Conservation Agriculture Adoption

The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, John Deere, and DuPont Pioneer collaborate to support smallholders and sustainable farming in Africa to foster a conservation-based system of agriculture designed and targeted to sustainably improve the productivity of smallholder farmers in Africa. The effort will be piloted in Ghana and include a conservation-based, mechanized product suite developed by John Deere; a system of cover crops and improved inputs from DuPont Pioneer; and support for adoption and training on conservation-based practices by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

UN highlights role of farming in closing emissions gap


Matt McGrath (BBC News Environment correspondent) reports that the UN says that changing farming practices could play an important role in averting dangerous climate change. In their annual emissions report, they measure the difference between the pledges that countries have made to cut warming gases and the targets required to keep temperatures below 2C. On present trends there is likely to be an annual excess of 8 to 12 giga-tonnes of these gases by 2020. Agriculture, they say, could make a significant difference to the gap, including wider adoption of conservation agriculture.

CGIAR Water, Land & Ecosystem Blog Space

The CGIAR Water land & Ecosystems (WLE) platform offers a perspective of a world in which agriculture thrives alongside vibrant ecosystems, and those engaged in agriculture live in good health, enjoy food and nutritional security, and have access to the inputs and resources they need to continuously improve their livelihoods. The blog space is a platform for discussion and networking on ecosystems services and resource management. Sign up for weekly updates or join the discussion. CGIAR welcome blog posts from guest authors on relevant topics. You may email submissions to Abby Waldorf

Conservation Agriculture cartoon booklet.

This new booklet was edited by Li Hongwen in China, Amir Kassam was one of the reviewers. The booklet is downloadable from the FAO website, click here.

Recent Articles

The No-Till Farming Association of Argentina (XXI Congreso AAPRESID) was held from 7 to 9 August in Rosario. Read more. To see the conference on your PC click here or to read an article click here.

Cover crops work. That's the message from the results of a recent study. Last year's drought gutted corn and soybean yields. But that yield hammer was much lighter on those crop acres that were preceded by a cover crop. The study, conducted by the USDA North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program and Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC), sought opinions from more than 750 farmers in the Corn Belt on cover crops, how widely they're adopted, their payback and challenges. Read more

Norman Uphoff presents seminar on SRI at TAA-IIED seminar, London 4th July 2013. Click to read the summary

Researchers create online tool to estimate greenhouse gas reductions through Conservation Agriculture. Read more

See the following article in the Guardian 18 May 2013 entitled: Preserving the Soil and Reaping Greater Harvests. It is about Conservation Agriculture in Tanzania.

Check this link. Every farmer, scientist, politician, environmentalist and consumer should be required to view this video!!!!!

Up-dated Conservation Agriculture Data Base in AquaStat, FAO The CA land area data base has been updated based on the feedback received from our regular sources of information and has been posted in AquaStat. The latest figures can be seen at the FAO CA-Website at (

Click here for presentation by Brian Sims to the Cambridge Conservation Forum symposium, January 2013, "Conservation Agriculture for Smallholder Farmers in Developing Countries"


Partnering for improved food security, a better environment and regional development

May 2013 – Updates and Hottest Issues

The two weeks training-cum-study tour on Farm Mechanization for African Stakeholders was carried out under the auspices of The Farm Mechanization & Conservation Agriculture for Sustainable Intensification (FACASI) project with the objective to identify opportunities to transfer Indian technologies and Indian expertise to Africa.

Thedelegation comprises participants sampled from private sector players(importers, manufacturers); researchers; academia; and non-governmental organizations – all stakeholders to the FACASI project. These included participants from Ethiopia (4), Kenya (4), Tanzania (4), Zimbabwe (3), Regional (ACT), and the CIMMYT FACASI project Coordinator. Highlights of the trip are:

 The Indian Universities have been effectively linking manufacturers, importers and farmers; acting as hubs for technology development.

 India has a manufacturers’ association with a political voice which can/does influence policies in favour of the industry.

 Developed technologies are effectively extended to farmers through scaling out models including farmers’ cooperatives sometimes specialised in mechanised equipment hire services.

 Research focus - to concentrated action centres/zones and areas of excellence such as soil sodicity /salinity - is a key driver to the successful introduction of sustainable agriculture.

 Government support to farming is very strong in India. Examples include: free electricity (for pumping irrigation water in the 2 states); VAT exempt on machinery; subsidies on mechanization and irrigation equipment; and government purchase of farmers’ produce at profitable prices.

 It is argued that that the Indian Green Revolution took place only in the Punjab and Haryana States! What does Africa have to learn from this knowledge?

 ICAR is desirous to further the south-south collaboration for the longer-term mechanization of farming in Africa. The leadership of CIMMYT & ACIAR through FACASI comes at an opportune time.

More info+: Highlights of South-South Trip Report to India; available at: Indian Council for Agricultural Research website: