Farm mechanization is a crucial input for improving agricultural production. Without farm power and the appropriate tools, implements and machines that can support the production of marketable surpluses, farmers would struggle to emerge from subsistence farming. With increasing demands for food and agricultural products being exerted on the planet’s natural capital base, the essential role for sustainable mechanization in production systems development becomes increasingly obvious.
Sustainable intensification necessarily means that the protection of natural resources and the production of ecosystem services go hand-in-hand with intensified production practices and methodologies. Thus, farm mechanization forms an integral plank in the implementation of sustainable crop production intensification approaches as elaborated in the FAO “Save and Grow” paradigm.
Conservation Agriculture (CA) is an approach to production system management that complies with the notions of sustainable production intensification. However, at field level and for up-scaling of rainfed or irrigated CA systems, including arable systems, crop-livestock mixed-farming systems, or horticulture systems, or plantation systems, the approach also requires specific mechanization measures to allow crops to be established with no or minimum soil disturbance, to enable the soil surface to be protected by organic cover for as long as possible, and to manage crop rotations and associations to enhance soil and agro-ecosystem health and to conserve and utilize crop nutrients from various soil horizons.
Hence sustainable intensification is the way of ‘treating’ soils and cropping systems for agricultural production that links sustainable mechanization and CA in a mutually interdependent and beneficial relationship.
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