Conservation Agriculture News


[Conservation Agriculture - defined

Conservation Agriculture is based on the practical application of three interlinked principles of: (i) Continuous no or minimum mechanical soil disturbance (no-till seeding/planting and no-till weeding); (ii) permanent maintenance of soil much cover (crop biomass, stubble and cover crops); and (iii) diversification of cropping system (rotations and/or sequences and/or associations involving annuals and perennials, including legumes), along with other complementary good agricultural production management practices (more at:]

Global spread of Conservation Agriculture

Conservation Agriculture (CA) comprises the practical application of three interlinked principles, namely: no or minimum mechanical soil disturbance, biomass mulch soil cover and crop species diversifica- tion, in conjunction with other complementary good agricultural practices of integrated crop and production management. In 2015/ 16, CA was practised globally on about 180 M ha of cropland, corresponding to about 12.5% of the total global cropland. In 2008/09, the spread of CA was reported to be about 106 M ha. This change constitutes an increase of some 69% globally since 2008/09. In 2015/16, CA adoption was reported by 78 countries, an increase in adoption by 42 more countries since 2008/09, respec- tively. The average annual rate of global expansion of CA cropland area since 2008/2009 has been some 10.5 M ha. The largest extents of adoption are in South and North America, followed by Australia and New Zealand, Asia, Russia and Ukraine, Europe and Africa. 

Paper by A. Kassam, T. Friedrich and R. Derpsch, published in JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES; read the paper .... .

CA Increases Resistance of Maize to Climate Stress, Malawi
CA and Climate Change has been a hot topic in our research Agenda and having LT trials to proof how the systems respond under drought conditions has been a major benefit of our work – smart Investment in medium to LT trials will pay off over time. The current study is a collaboration with the University of Leeds. The attached paper published in Agriculture, Ecosystem and Environment is entitled:Conservation agriculture enhances resistance of maize to climate stress in a Malawian medium-term trial by Peter R. Steward, Christian Thierfelder, Andrew J. Dougill, Ivy Ligowe. Read more ..... 
Manual for Smallholders' Conservation Agriculture in Rice-based Systems     

Dr Enamul Haque, from Bangladesh, announces the launch of this Manual. This first version (July 2018) is designed to describe the current state of knowledge about the practices that represent CA systems for smallholders in rice-based cropping in Bangladesh. The manual will be preserved in Murdoch University and ACIAR Web based repository: click here for instructions on how to download it. The next steps are to publish it in Bengali and in pictorial versions, which are now under development.    

Conservation Agriculture (CA) Roadmap for India 
This policy brief on the CA Roadmap for India is based on a ICAR-CIMMYT joint workshop organised earlier in 2018 in New Delhi, involving key senior level researchers, planners involved in CAR4D in India. This includes a ten-point plan to expand CA in India, including a proposal for a new ‘National Initiative on Conservation Agriculture (NICA)’.

New Practical Videos for Soil Health

A new series of practical videos to help farmers understand and improve soil health has been launched today (Wednesday 27 June 2018) at the Groundswell Show. Working in partnership with Innovation for Agriculture (IfA) and Ernest Cook Trust, the Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) team have produced a series of ‘Learning from the Land’ videos.     

Review Article on Tillage and Soil Carbon Loss.

Mehra, Promil, John Baker, Robert E. Sojka, Nanthi Bolan, Jack Desbiolles, Mary B. Kirkham, Craig Ross, Risha Gupta. 2018. A Review of Tillage Practices and Their Potential to Impact the Soil Carbon Dynamics. Advances in Agronomy. Jan 2018,1-47.

DOI: 10.1016/bs.agron.2018.03.002. Review link

Awareness and adoption of conservation agriculture in Malawi: what difference can farmer-to-farmer extension make?

Despite the potential of conservation agriculture (CA) for increased crop yields, energy savings, soil erosion control, and water-use efficiency, smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa have been slow to adopt. Farmer-to-farmer extension (F2FE) may have a role to play in overcoming the information access problems and lack of knowledge that may preclude widespread adoption. This study uses data for 180 lead farmers linked to their 455 followers to investigate how F2FE influences awareness and adoption of CA technologies in Malawi. Results from a bivariate probit model for follower farmer awareness and adoption of the three CA principles (minimum soil disturbance, crop residue retention, and crop diversification) reveal four main findings: First, lead farmer motivation increases their effectiveness at diffusing CA practices to their followers. Second, lead farmer familiarity with and adoption of CA both matter to the spread of CA practices, but familiarity appears more important. Third, lead farmers play a more critical role in increasing awareness than adoption of the CA practices. Finally, F2FE is a complement rather than a substitute for other sources of agricultural extension in Malawi's pluralistic extension system and should support but not replace current systems. Research and policy implications are discussed.

Monica Fisher et al. 2018. published on-line in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability

Detecting CA Cropping by Remote Sensing
New paper  entitled:Phenotyping Conservation Agriculture Management Effects on Ground and Aerial Remote Sensing Assessments of Maize Hybrids Performance in Zimbabwe. By Adrian Gracia‐Romero et al. Remote Sens. 2018, 10, 349; doi:10.3390/rs10020349. Read more.

Farming for the next generation

Secretary of State Michael Gove sets out his vision on the future of the UK farming industry at the Oxford Farming Conference 2018: This includes reference to Conservation Agriculture/ No-till Farming. Read more ...... .

Groundswell No-Till Show and Conference 2017

Please see below the links to the outcomes of the Groundswell No-Till Show and Conference 2017, held at Weston, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom on 28 and 29 June. These include the list of Speakers and presentations and recordings.

Conservation Agriculture Sprouts in Cuban Fields

At the entrance, the Tierra Brava farm looks like any other family farm in the rural municipality of Los Palacios, in the westernmost province of Cuba. But as you drive in, you see that the traditional furrows are not there, and that freshly cut grass covers the soil. "For more than five years we’ve been practicing conservation agriculture (CA)”, explained Onay Martínez, who works 22 hectares of state-owned land. He was referring to a specific kind of agro-ecology which, besides not using chemicals, diversifies species on farms and preserves the soil using plant coverage and no plowing. "In Cuba, this system is hardly practiced,” lamented the farmer, who is cited as an example by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of integral and spontaneous application of CA, which Cuban authorities began to include in their policies in 2016. Read more…..

Frameworks for understanding the utilisation of conservation agriculture in Africa

This paper contends that despite the investment and promotion of CA in Africa to smallholder farmers there is little insight into the realities of their use. They used two frameworks to address this issue. They are applied to household survey data from 5 Eastern Africa countries from 1601 villages and 6,559 households. They find a general overestimation of adoption of CA and CA components. They look at the intensity of implementation and added new meaning in the status and contributors to limited CA utilization. {Brown, B, Nuberg I & Llewellyn R. 2017. Agricultural Systems. 153: 11-22). Click here for how to access.

Role of CA in Sustainable Production for Smallholder Farmers in Africa

A special issue of the Journal 'Environments' (March 2015), published by MDPI (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, an academic open-access publisher), is dedicated to the theme of: "The Role of Conservation Agriculture in Sustainable Production Intensification for Smallholder Farmers in Africa", with TAA member Amir Kassam and Saidi Mkomwa as Guest Editors. Click the link to the special issue, or the link to the Journal Environments. 

2nd Conference on CA for Smallholders (CASH-II)

The conference was held at Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh, Bangladesh 14-16 February, 2017. Publications are available: ‘Conservation Agriculture and Farm Mechanization in Bangladesh’ and the Mymensingh Declaration for Conservation Agriculture’Copies of the Proceedings can be obtained from Richard Bell  or Enamul Haque.


ACT: African Conservation Tillage Network

ACT’s work is to stimulate, facilitate and challenge for mutual sharing of information and knowledge on experiences or lessons on promotion of conservation agriculture in Africa. These efforts enable farmers, entrepreneurs, policy makers, researchers, learners and academicians and other stakeholders to access and share information and knowledge on CA, thereby contributing to better and more appropriate policies and programmes in the efforts to scale-up CA in Africa. Ultimately Conservation Agriculture (CA) as an approach to managing agro-ecosystems helps improve and sustain land productivity, increase profits and food security while preserving and enhancing the resource base and the environment. Read the latest news from ACT.

European Conservation Agriculture Federation Newsletter

Please find the first ECAF Newsletter 2017 at the ECAF website.

Conservation NewsBriefs

The Soil & Water Conservation Society  (SWCS) publishes Conservation NewsBriefs on topics related to soil and water conservation, comprising latest news articles and trending titles. These are searchable and cover the archive back to 2011.

New book: "CA for Africa"

CABI is pleased to announce that the following CABI title is now available to buy: 9781780645681 - "Conservation Agriculture for Africa". Click here to view and purchase this title.

Conservation Agriculture and Climate Resilience

Kiziro Mazvimavi and the ICRISAT Bulawayo team have maintained the panel data set that DfID established in 2007 with relief funds!  A clear example of how on-farm observation can help us understand more clearly the windows for the promotion of conservation agriculture for a range of crops.  Key is that one must remember that this is just one practice – basins – that makes up the wealth of potential interventions under the CA umbrella. Read the paper online. (kindly submitted by David Radcliffe.

CA: Best Practices for Resource-Limited Smallholder Farms

ECHO has published a Best Practice Note on Conservation agriculture (CA) – October 2016. CA is a resource-saving land management approach that optimizes and sustains the capacity of soils to produce food. In CA, sustainability is linked to the ecological preservation of agricultural landscapes. This is achieved through 1) minimal soil disturbance, 2) keeping soils covered, and 3) crop diversification. Implementing these three elements requires a combination of practices, for which there are many options. Thinking of CA as an overall system, rather than a fixed set of techniques, gives farmers and practitioners the freedom to evaluate and adopt a set of CA-related practices appropriate to local needs. Farmers in many parts of the world, because of human population growth, have little choice but to crop their land continuously, with scarce resources to replace nutrients withdrawn by each successive crop. Crop residues are often lost as a source of organic matter and mulch, usually through burning or by removal for animal feed or cooking fuel. Especially where nutrient reserves are already low, and topsoil is exposed to erosion, soils lose their capacity to sustain adequate crop yields. Additionally, extreme weather events, adverse changes in climate, human conflict, and sickness can all work against smallholder farmers’ abilities to sustain the productive capacity of their soils. Click here to read the Best Practice Note on CA.

CA in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan 

Download the 2016 FAO-ICARDA publication on the Practice of Conservation Agriculture in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan

Field Results of SCI/CA in Dangs, Gujarat, India

Conservation Agriculture has been widely adopted by farmers across the world as an alternative to conventional tillage-based agriculture. It represents smart agriculture which can lead to sustainability. The technique promises a win-win situation for farmers as it reduces their costs of production (without reducing their productivity), enhance soil health, safeguard the environment, and adapt the crops for climate change. Read the report by AKRSP, May 2016.

CA in Bangladesh

The Conservation Agriculture (CA) project has been active in Bangladesh since 1 April, 2012 in Rajshahi, Rajbari, Thakurgaon, and Mymensingh with the funding support of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). The project is collaboration among – Bangladesh Agricultural University; Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute; Bangladesh Rice Research Institute; Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council; and Murdoch University. Read the Newsletter.

Cornell University Conservation Agriculture Updates

See the full research database for CA articles from Cornell at and monthly reports.

Long Term Effects of CA

Long term effect of conservation agriculture in maize rotations on total organic carbon, physical and biological properties of a sandy loam soil in north-western Indo-gangetic plaints.Soil and Tillage Research, 2016, developed jointly by researchers of ICARDA, ICAR (IIMR, IARI), CIMMYT, and BISA. Download here ...

Soil Health in Field and Forage Crop Production

Soil health is the continued capacity of soil to function as a living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans. This 32-page full-color publication by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service  discusses the natural principles of the no-till system and discusses 14 management techniques for improving soil health: diversify crop rotations, plant cover crops, diversify cover crops, maximize living roots, grow living plants, manage carbon, use interseeding, plant green, enhance soil armour, manage nutrients, manage manure, manage pests, avoid compaction, and integrate crops and livestock. Download the full publication by clicking here

Seminar sees European Parliament address benefits of Conservation Agriculture     

Over the past few years, the European Conservation Agriculture Federation (ECAF -- has been holding consultations with the European Commission, as well as with European Parliament, on the possibility of integrating Conservation Agriculture into the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) framework that provides support to European farmers and European Agriculture. The last two reforms of CAP have focussed onsustainability issues and the greening of CAP.

On 13 January,the European Parliament hosted the seminar "Making Sustainable Agriculture Real”; organised by MEPs Clara Aguilera and Nicola Caputo (Members of the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee) and invited ECAF members and farmers from 7 member states (including a TAA member) - representative of over 3 million hectares of cropland under Conservation Agriculture in Europe - to share insights on the application and benefits of Conservation Agriculture practices.The seminar agenda is attached herewith, via the following links, which provide information on the different media coverage of the event.  

CA in Azerbajan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan

Read the 2015 working paper on Conservation Agriculture in the irrigated areas of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan summarizing project GCP/RER/030/TUR, implemented by ICARDA and funded by FAO-Turkey Partnership Program. Submitted via FAO by Aziz Nurbekov  ICARDA-Taskent, Uzbekistan

Farming Forward for Climate Change: Manifesto of Conservation Agriculturalists

At the Paris climate conference - COP 21, APAD hosted a side meeting on behalf of the Global Conservation Agriculture Network (G-Can) on the role of Conservation Agriculture in addressing climate change issues. A Manifesto ("Farming Forward for Climate Change”) supported by national and regional organizations of farmers practicing Conservation Agriculture was launched at the meeting. APAD also organized a visit to a Conservation Agriculture farm near Paris to learn more about this no-till production systems from the farmer.

 Brown Revolution for Africa

Philanthropist Dr. Howard G. Buffett, who is a farmer and an ambassador against hunger for the United Nations’ World Food Program, calls for a "Brown Revolution” in Africa. Items included in the pepper are: Listen to the farmer; Africa' no-till revolution; No-till, African style; We are treating soil like dirt: Its a fatal mistake; One farmer's story of Conservation Agriculture; What does a $100 billion asset manager say farmers should invest in? Soil; Losing the farm; Assessing Africa's real potential for agriculture.

Articles in 'Environments' on Conservation Agriculture

We are pleased to announce the publication of the following issue of Environments, Volume 2, Issue 3 (September 2015), Pages 280-434. A Special Issue on  The Role of Conservation Agriculture in Sustainable Production Intensification for Smallholder Farmers in Africa

Article: Evidence and Lessons Learned from Long-Term On-Farm Research on Conservation Agriculture Systems in Communities in Malawi and Zimbabwe by Christian Thierfelder, William Trent Bunderson and Walter Mupangwa. Environments 2015, 2(3), 317-337; doi:10.3390/environments2030317

 Article: Where to Target Conservation Agriculture for African Smallholders? How to Overcome Challenges Associated with its Implementation? Experience from Eastern and Southern Africa by Frédéric Baudron, Christian Thierfelder, Isaiah Nyagumbo and Bruno Gérard. Environments 2015, 2(3), 338-357; doi:10.3390/environments2030338

 Article: Effects of Conservation Agriculture and Fertilization on Soil Microbial Diversity and Activity by Johan Habig and Corrie Swanepoe.l Environments 2015, 2(3), 358-384; doi:10.3390/environments2030358

Article: Mulching and Fertilization Effects on Weed Dynamics under Conservation Agriculture-Based Maize Cropping in Zimbabwe by Florence Mtambanengwe, Hatirarami Nezomba, Tonny Tauro, Christopher Chagumaira, Muneta G. Manzeke and Paul Mapfumo. Environments 2015, 2(3), 399-414; doi:10.3390/environments2030399


View all up-dates and alerts for the CA-COP on the FAO website, click here

Alert No. 55 (5 July 2018)

1.Plantas de Cobertura: Manual Tecnico. By Ademir Calegari, Projeto Solovivo. IAPAR, Brazil (2016).

2.Potential for Conservation Agriculture in the Dry Marginal Zone of Central Syria: A Preliminary Assessment. ByBaqir Lalani et al. Sustainability 10:1-19 (2018).

3.The 4 per 1000 goal and soil carbon storage under agroforestry and Conservation Agriculture systems in sub-Saharan Africa. By Marc Corbeels et al. (2018).

4.Census Parcels Cropping System Classification from Multitemporal Remote Imagery: A Proposed Universal Methodology. By Luis García-Torres et al. PLoS ONE 10(2) (2014).

5.Effect of tillage and crop (cereal versus legume)1on greenhouse gas emissions and Global Warming Potential in a non-irrigated Mediterranean field. ByGuillermo Guardia et al.Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment (2016).

6.Driving factors of soil carbon accumulation in Oxisols in long-termno-till systems of South Brazil. By Ademir de Oliveira Ferreira et al. Science of the Total Environment 622–623 (2018) 735–742 (2018).

7.Climate risk management and rural poverty reduction. By James Hansen et al. Agricultural Systems (2018).

8.Agricultural Policies and Investment Priorities for Managing Natural Resources, Climate Change and Air Pollution; Policy brief. By Raj Paroda et al. TAAS, CIMMYT, ICAR, CCAFS, WB (2018).

9.Phenotyping Conservation Agriculture Management Effects on Ground and Aerial Remote Sensing Assessments of Maize Hybrids Performancein Zimbabwe. By Adrian Gracia‐Romero et al.Remote Sens. 10(349): 1-21 (2018).

10.Changes in soil organic carbon during 22 years of pastures, cropping or integrated crop/livestock systems in the Brazilian Cerrado. BySelenobaldo A. C. de Sant-Anna et al.Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst.108:101–120 (2017).

11.Soil health – What should the doctor order? By M. Wood and A. M. Litterick. Soil Use and Management, 33, 339–345. (2017).

12.Should Soil Testing Services Measure Soil Biological Activity? By Alan J. Franzluebbers. Agric. Environ. Lett. 1 (2016).

13.Feeding the Nation and the World — Sustainably:The soil health roadmap to productive, sustainable farming in the 21st century and beyond. NRCS, USDA (2011).

14.On-farm soil health evaluations: Challenges and opportunities. By Douglas L. Karlen et al. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation.72(2):26-31 (2017).

15.Complementary practices supporting conservation agriculture in southern Africa. A review. By Christian Thierfelder et al.Agronomy for Sustainable Development 38:16 (2018).

16.Zero-tillage as a pathway for sustainable wheat intensification in the Eastern Indo-Gangetic Plains: does it work in farmers’ fields? By Alwin Keil et al. Food Sec. 7:983–1001 (2015).

17.Farm-level Economic Analysis - Is Conservation Agriculture Helping the Poor? By Baqir Lalani et al.Ecological Economics 141: 144–153 (2017).

18.Does Zero Tillage Improve the Livelihoods of Smallholder Cropping Farmers? By Tamer El-Shater et al. Journal of Agricultural Economics, 67 (1): 154–172 (2016).

19.Minimal soil disturbance and increased residue retention increase soil carbon in rice-based cropping systems on the Eastern Gangetic Plain. By Md. Khairul Alam et al. Soil and Tillage Research 183: 28-41 (2018).

20.Enzymes and C pools as indicators of C build up in short-term conservation agriculture in a savanna ecosystem in Cambodia. By Lyda Hok et al. Soil & Tillage Research 177:125-133 (2018).


Up-dating Conservation Agriculture Database in AquaStat, FAO.

The CA land area database is updated periodically based on the feedback received from our regular sources of information. These include: official government sources, no-till associations, NGOs, national and international research institutes, and informed individuals. The information is posted in AquaStat. The latest figures can be seen at the FAO CA-Website at (