We know that switching to a completely new agricultural system can be difficult. However, we really believe in the difference Conservation Agriculture can make for the climate, the environment, and farmers. With this series of articles on Conservation Agriculture, we aim to cover its basics and bust common myths and misconceptions one might have about it.
Conservation Agriculture is a term for a soil cultivation practice where, instead of tilling, the aim is to promote the natural soil processes as much as possible, protect the soil from wind and weather, and through crop rotation attempt to avoid the propagation of diseases and weeds.
The three principles behind Conservation Agriculture are:
• Minimal soil disturbance
• Permanent soil cover - either by a crop, a cover crop, or crop residues
• A varied crop rotation
Instead of tilling and harrowing, Conservation Agriculture (CA) works to create the best possible conditions for terrestrial organisms. Their activity can help ensure dead organic material (crop residues) is decomposed and incorporated into the soil.
At the same time, the activity ensures that cavities and pores are created in the soil in order for the soil to become airy and porous and thus create room for oxygen and water.
By aiming for a permanent cover on the soil's surface, the soil is protected from the drying out caused by the sun. Moreover, the plant cover protects the soil surface from wind and water, which can physically break the structure of the soil causing erosion.
A varied crop rotation counteracts the multiplication of weeds and diseases, which in a traditional tilled system can be limited to some extent by turning the soil.
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