Principles of conservation agriculture

Conservation agriculturea new pathway for agricultural development
Jens B. Aune
Agro-ecologist, Noragric, UMB
Disadvantage of the system
Low yields because sowing is delayed
Low soil organic matter content
High soil erosion
Inputs are not efficiently utilized
Most of the fodder resources are used by oxen
Female households are in particular vulnerable situation
because the man who ploughs takes up to 50% of the
Principles of conservation agriculture
• Direct sowing
• Soil cover (mulch)
• Crop rotations
Improved soil fertility management is often a
Advantages of cons. agr.
• Resembles a natural eco-systemsoil is continuously covered
• Build soil organic carbon
• Less soil erosion
• No turning of the soil- less use of
energy (30-40 % less use of
• Yields comparable to conventional
• Less need to keep oxen
Forms of conservation agriculture
Planting basins
Photo: Progress Nyanga
Photo:CFU Zambia
Tractor ripping – dry season ripping
Photo:CFU Zambia
Millet biomass yield (kg ha-1)
Fertiliser and mulching
(millet straw)
No input
Lessons from the Sahel drought in the 1980s.
Millet production in Niger (Bationo and Buerkert 2001)
Conservation agriculture in the
Horn of Africa
• Conservation agriculture should be more
actively promoted in the Horn of Africa
• Agriculture becomes more resistant to
climate change
• Improvements in livestock production
• Positive environmental effects
Conservation agriculture in a global context
• The only agricultural system that can feed 9
billion people in a sustainable way.
• Should also be more promoted under
temperate agricultural conditions like in
• International and Norwegian research
(Apelsvoll) tell that conservation agriculture
has less GHG and nitrogen emission per kg
produced food than organic and conventional
There is a need for a stronger
policy push of conservation
agriculture internationally as well
as domestically.