Conservation Agriculture

This section describes what soil-protective and resource-saving agriculture is and how it, as a management system, can prevent the loss of land suitable for cultivation and contribute to the restoration of degraded soils. It also provides information on the principles of such a system of agriculture, explains why FAO is actively engaged in its popularization, as well as the support provided by FAO to the Member States of the Organization.

What is Conservation Agriculture?

Conservation Agriculture (CA) is a farming system that can prevent losses of arable land while regenerating degraded lands. It promotes maintenance of a permanent soil cover, minimum soil disturbance, and diversification of plant species. It enhances biodiversity and natural biological processes above and below the ground surface, which contribute to increased water and nutrient use efficiency and to improved and sustained crop production.

CA principles are universally applicable to all agricultural landscapes and land uses with locally adapted practices. Soil interventions such as mechanical soil disturbance are reduced to an absolute minimum or avoided, and external inputs such as agrochemicals and plant nutrients of mineral or organic origin are applied optimally and in ways and quantities that do not interfere with, or disrupt, the biological processes.

CA facilitates good agronomy, such as timely operations, and improves overall land husbandry for rainfed and irrigated production. Complemented by other known good practices, including the use of quality seeds, and integrated pest, nutrient, weed and water management, etc., CA is a base for sustainable agricultural production intensification. It opens increased options for integration of production sectors, such as crop-livestock integration and the integration of trees and pastures into agricultural landscapes.