FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS - helping to build a world without hunger


CA Adoption Worldwide

FAO is monitoring the global adoption of Conservation Agriculture. The data presented above is the result of an ongoing collaboration between FAO’s Conservation Agriculture and AQUASTAT programmes, and presents the latest values available for all countries that report Conservation Agriculture practices. This script automatically displays new data as updates become available and can be considered the most up-to-date repository for global implementation of conservation agriculture. The reported areas comply with the CA definition, with the following quantifying parameters:

1. Minimum Soil Disturbance: Minimum soil disturbance refers to low disturbance no-tillage and direct seeding. The disturbed area must be less than 15 cm wide or less than 25% of the cropped area (whichever is lower). There should be no periodic tillage that disturbs a greater area than the aforementioned limits. Strip tillage is allowed if the disturbed area is less than the set limits.

2. Organic soil cover: Three categories are distinguished: 30-60%, >60-90% and >90% ground cover, measured immediately after the direct seeding operation. Area with less than 30% cover is not considered as CA.

3. Crop rotation/association: Rotation/association should involve at least 3 different crops. However, repetitive wheat, maize, or rice cropping is not an exclusion factor for the purpose of this data collection, but rotation/association is recorded where practiced.


Paper presented to IV World Congress on Conservation Agriculture
New Delhi, India, February 2009

Global Overview of Conservation Agriculture Adoption

Rolf Derpsch, Consultant Asuncion, Paraguay -,
Theodor Friedrich, FAO/Rome

No-tillage/Conservation Agriculture (CA) has developed to a technically viable, sustainable and economic alternative to current crop production practices. While current crop production systems have resulted in soil degradation and in extreme cases desertification, the adoption of the No-tillage technology has led to a reversion of this process. Soil erosion has come to a halt, organic matter content, soil biological processes and soil fertility have been enhanced, soil moisture has been better conserved and yields have increased with time. Data presented ten years ago at the 10th ISCO Conference in West Lafayette, Indiana, showed a world wide adoption of the No-tillage technology of about 45 million ha (Derpsch, 2001). Since then the adoption of the system has continued to grow steadily especially in South America where some countries are using CA on about 70% of the total cultivated area. Opposite to countries like the USA where often fields under No-tillage are tilled every now and then, more than two thirds of No-tillage practiced in South America is permanently under this system, in other words once started, the soil is never tilled again. In the last years a big expansion of the area under No-tillage has been reported in Asia, especially in China and Kazakhstan where more than a million ha have been reported in each country. But also in Europe there is progress in the adoption. There are about 650.000 ha of No-tillage being practiced in Spain, about 200.000 ha in France and about 200.000 ha in Finland. No-tillage based conservation agriculture systems gain also increasing attention in Africa, especially in Southern and Eastern Africa. In many countries the area is still low due to the high percentage of small scale farmers, but the numbers are increasing steadily as well. Up to now No-tillage has expanded to more than 100 million ha world wide, showing its adaptability to all kinds of climates, soils and cropping conditions. No-tillage is now being practiced from the artic circle over the tropics to about 50º latitude South, from sea level to 3000 m altitude, from extremely rainy areas with 2500 mm a year to extremely dry conditions with 250 mm a year. The wide recognition as a truly sustainable farming system should ensure the growth of this technology to areas where adoption is still small as soon as the barriers for its adoption have been overcome. The widespread adoption also shows that No-tillage can not any more be considered a temporary fashion, instead the system has established itself as a technology that can no longer be ignored by politicians, scientists, universities, extension workers, farmers as well as machine manufacturers and other agriculture related industries. Key words: World wide Conservation Agriculture / No-till adoption. (read full document)


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