FAO.org

Home > Conservation Agriculture > Overview > Principles of CA
Conservation Agriculture

Conservation Agriculture principles

Conservation Agriculture is based on three main principles adapted to reflect local conditions and needs:

Minimum mechanical soil disturbance (i.e. no tillage) through direct seed and/or fertilizer placement. This reduces soil erosion and preserves soil organic matter.

Permanent soil organic cover (at least 30 percent) with crop residues and/or cover crops. Maintaining a protective layer of vegetation on the soil surface suppresses weeds, protects the soil from the impact of extreme weather patterns, helps to preserve soil moisture, and avoids compaction of the soil.

Species diversification through varied crop sequences and associations involving at least three different crops. A well-designed crop rotation promotes good soil structure, fosters a diverse range of soil flora and fauna that contributes to nutrient cycling and improved plant nutrition, and helps to prevent pests and diseases.