A new book has collated extensive scientific research, field experience and technical advice on conservation agriculture into one place.
Advances in Conservation Agriculture, Volume 3: Adoption and Spread, provides farmers, researchers, and academics with “key” information on practices around the world, reflecting differing local knowledge and techniques.
CA techniques – like cover crops and reduced tillage – have been gaining popularity as an alternative to conventional farming.
The area of arable land under CA has grown from two million hectares in 1970 to more than 205 million hectares in 102 countries by 2019.
Furthermore, innovative farmers and machinery manufacturers, who have shared new approaches as they evolve, are the main drivers of this growth.
Amir Kassam, visiting professor at the University of Reading and editor of the book, said:
“The more farmers that find CA can sustainably boost their incomes, the faster the pace will change.”
“Another important aspect explored in the book is that formal research has been important in developing new and more effective techniques and management approaches.”
“This research has focussed on crop performance, soil health, ecosystem services, global warming and farm incomes.
Also, Professor Kassam pointed out that these validation studies have helped to boost the case for policy and institutional support of CA.
He said this is “particularly” important as the popularity of CA has, so far, spread largely without explicit supportive government policies.
“It seems targeted incentives like finance for machinery and management practices to boost soil health and enhance water resources, for example, could accelerate the rate of adoption,” he added.
Although international bodies like the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), have only invested relatively small resources in CA, they have “played an important catalytic role”.
He said the FAO has placed CA “at the core” of its vision for sustainable food and agriculture. He said this is particularly the case for smallholder farmers.
The book is the third volume in the CA collection and deals with the challenges and opportunities of such practices. It complements the previous two volumes on Systems and Science and Practice and Benefits.
Latest CA research
Rob Burleigh, managing director at Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing, adds:
“In each book, chapter authors review 100 to 200 journal articles on the latest CA research. They have synthesised that into 20 or 30 pages.”
“Scientists, researchers, farmers and academics don’t have the time to read and synthesise all the latest research. So, we have done all the hard work. We can signpost straight to the most appropriate book chapter – it’s a really useful shortcut.”
Qu Dongyu, director general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says:
“These volumes are a timely celebration of the most progressive change in farming practices over the past 60 years, which is gathering momentum around the world at an extraordinary pace.”
“They will serve as an immensely valuable source of reference – and inspiration – for all those who are committed to putting the world’s food systems on a truly sustainable footing.”