Conservation Agriculture for Sustainable Crop Production Intensification

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  • 1. Conservation Agriculturethe base for asustainable intensificationof crop productionTheodor Friedrich AG department brainstorming, April 12, 2012
  • 2. Conservation AgricultureOutline • Sustainable crop production intensification – Focus on soil and ecosystem functions • Conservation Agriculture – The concept – Impacts of CA – CA – the wider picture • History and development – FAO’s role – Issues around CA adoption and scaling • Conclusions AG department brainstorming, April 12, 2012
  • 3. Conservation AgricultureSustainable Crop Production Intensification • Highest possible production • Environmental footprint < recovery capacity Sustainable Crop Production Intensification AG department brainstorming, April 12, 2012
  • 4. Conservation AgricultureSustainable Crop Production Intensification • Green Revolution Paradigm (since WWII): – High soil disturbance + modern high yield varieties + high purchased input use = high output – Downside: Pollution, reduced efficiency, loss of soil health, soil erosion as unavoidable side effects • Sustainable Intensification Paradigm (alternate): – Strengthen natural processes to boost production and environmental services – Avoid waste, input use as the system can take AG department brainstorming, April 12, 2012
  • 5. Conservation AgricultureSustainable Crop Production IntensificationFocus on soil and ecosystem functions: Healthy soil is base for sustainable crop production Soil degradation/ natural NOT tillage erosion > soil = sustainable formation“Dirt – the erosion of civilizations” by David R. Montgomery(Prof. of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, leads theGeomorphological Research Group, member of the Quaternary Research Center):• Soil is a fragile thin skin around the world• Soil formation is very slow, degradation very fast: even with conservation tillage soil erosion is by orders of magnitude higher than soil formation• The decline of important human civilizations can be related to erosion events and soil degradation (Greek, Romans etc.) AG department brainstorming, April 12, 2012
  • 6. Conservation AgricultureConservation AgricultureThe Concept:CA involves core components, which are necessary, to make “no-till” sustainable. CA in practice is characterized by three linked principles, namely: 1. Continuous minimum mechanical soil disturbance. 2. Permanent organic soil cover. 3. Diversification of crop species grown in sequences or associations. AG department brainstorming, April 12, 2012
  • 7. Conservation AgricultureConservation Agriculture Organic agriculture The Concept and SCPI: CA does not solve ALL problems (NO Panacea) but Pollinator/ Good seed complemented with Biodiversity Genetic potential other best management Genetic resources mgmt. practices CA Sustainable Compaction Permanent System base allows mechanization management, CTF Bed and of Rice Furrow Intensification for high Systems production intensity and Integrated Integrated Integrated Plant Integrated Water sustainable management Pest Nutrient Management Management Weed Management agriculture in all systems. Minimum soil Soil Cover Crop Diversity disturbance AG department brainstorming, April 12, 2012
  • 8. Conservation AgricultureConservation Agriculture Drivers for adoption: • Erosion: North America, Brazil, China • Drought: China, Australia, Kazakhstan, Zambia • Cost of production: global • Ecosystem services global AG department brainstorming, April 12, 2012
  • 9. Conservation AgricultureConservation AgricultureImpacts:• Increase of yields and production• Less fertilizer use (-50%) Wheat yield and nitrogen amount for different less pesticides duration of no-tillage in Canada 2002 (Lafond 2003) 4.0 Grain yield (t/ha)• Less machinery and 3.5 3.0 2.5 labour cost (-70%) 2.0 1.5 20-year no-tillage 2-year no-tillage 1.0• Higher profit 0 30 60 nitrogen (kg/ha 90 120• More stable yields – lower impact of climate (drought, floods, heat, cold)• Lower environmental cost (water, infrastructure) AG department brainstorming, April 12, 2012
  • 10. Conservation AgricultureConservation AgricultureThey are documented where CA has beenapplied over a longer time and large area:Canada, Brazil, Australia AG department brainstorming, April 12, 2012
  • 11. Conservation AgricultureConservation AgricultureImpacts of CA:• Similar reports are now appearing increasingly from small scale farmers and from other regions: AG department brainstorming, April 12, 2012
  • 12. Conservation AgricultureConservation AgricultureCA – the wider picture: CA opens the way for diversified and integrated production:• Horizontal integration of other production sectors (agroforestry, crop-livestock integration!)• Ecosystem services• Labour saving allowing vertical integration in the value chain AG department brainstorming, April 12, 2012
  • 13. Conservation Agriculture140.00 History and Development 125120.00 Global CA area (million ha)100.00 80.00 60.00 40.00 20.00 0.00 AG department brainstorming, April 12, 2012
  • 14. Conservation Agriculture Conservation Agriculture globally 125 Million ha large scale Russia, continental, dry Ukraine 5.1 >50% W Canada Kazakhstan 2 large continental, dry (30%) 13.5 scale Europe 1 China 3.1 temperate, moist smallholder15% USA ? arid 26.5 Africa 1 irrigated tropical savannah large smallholder scale FAO Brazil tropical savannah Impact 25.5 subtropical, dry ? 79% Paraguay 2.4 smallholder large scale Australia 17 temperate, moist other LA 2.4 arid large scale Argentina 25.5 (10.5) large 100% West scale (35%) AG department brainstorming, April 12, 2012
  • 15. Conservation AgricultureHistory and Development FAO’s role: link up with CA community • knowledge management (concept) • networking (WCCAs, CA-CoP) • advocacy (regional workshops, world congress) • technical support (field work) AG department brainstorming, April 12, 2012
  • 16. Conservation AgricultureHistory and Development FAO’s role: Support to member countries: • Policies and Institutions: – policy support for upscaling CA; coherent policies (mechanization/CA, extension) – institutions, supporting infrastructure: education/training, science/technology, commercial infrastructure (input supply) • Field level: farmer-groups/associations; proof of concept and field evidence with farmer learning processes (FFS, earthworm clubs...) • FAO DRR/M uses CA as concept (mostly Africa, LA) AG department brainstorming, April 12, 2012
  • 17. Conservation AgricultureHistory and Development Issues around CA adoption and scaling: • CA is a concept – no blueprint • Local adaptation works best in a farmer discovery/ learning process – participation of private sector/ input suppliers is crucial for uptake • CA works through synergy – hence all three components are important (to some degree) • Understanding of the concept is important for practice solutions for CA – in some cases “gradual” approaches work, in others full adoption is better AG department brainstorming, April 12, 2012
  • 18. Conservation AgricultureHistory and Development Issues around CA adoption: Common perceptions • No-till needs more herbicides: tillage conserves seeds; multiplies rhizomes; CA has non chemical options for weed management • No-till soils compact: compaction comes from traffic; no-till CA soil with mulch compacts less; biological tillage/SOM to “repair”; • Residues vs. livestock: CA produces over time more biomass; better IC-LS options/double purpose cover crops • Residues tie nitrogen: only when soil and straw is mixed • Residues carry pests and diseases: they also host beneficial fauna and flora; crop rotation is key • Root crops and CA: no problem for most; some adaptation in harvest or cultivation AG department brainstorming, April 12, 2012
  • 19. Conservation AgricultureHistory and Development Issues around CA adoption: Common perceptions • and many more, such as: “no-till cannot be done…. • …on large farms • …on small farms • …on clay soils • …on sandy soils • …in cold climates • …in humid tropics • …in arid climates • …etc. – but in all these conditions it is successfully be done as CA AG department brainstorming, April 12, 2012
  • 20. Conservation AgricultureConclusions • CA addresses the core problem for sustainable agriculture with the deepest environmental footprint: soil tillage • For SCPI there is no “alternative” to CA • CA has many local adaptations and there are different routes to adoption • FAO/AG department should therefore mainstream CA as approach to cropping “CA - there is no better way to farm” AG department brainstorming, April 12, 2012
  • 21. Conservation Agriculture CA, the Agriculture of the Future – the Future of AgricultureMore information:Theodor.Friedrich@fao.orghttp://www.fao.org/ag/ca Join the CA-CoP!http://www.fao.org/ag/save-and-grow AG department brainstorming, April 12, 2012