Understanding the adoption and application of conservation agriculture in southern Africa
This info-note (PDF) by IFAD presents the main results and lessons learned from a programme focusing on productive farming systems based on the principles of conservation agriculture. Main results show that conservation agriculture has significant yield benefits, can overcome crop failure risks, has labour benefits and can lead to higher water infiltration and increased moisture retention. On the down side, weed control is one of the biggest challenges. Lessons learned show that direct seeding systems are the most economical way of planting; that a combination with other climate-smart technologies provides additional benefits; and that crop rotation can improve yields, nutrition and income. The reduction in planting and weeding time can benefit women and indirectly increase the household food basket and income. Some biophysical limitations in applying conservation agriculture are found, especially for high rainfall areas. Lastly, the results show that sustained adoption of conservation agriculture systems is dependent on a number of factors such as education level of household head, type of extension support, access to critical inputs, farm size, lack of precipitation (risk) and labour shortage.