However, although conservation agriculture has now been adopted by the main producing countries, it is not easily applicable in every situation. The KASSA project, coordinated by CIRAD, has spent 18 months taking stock of the available information on this particular type of sustainable agriculture. It has involved partners from 28 research and development organizations in 18 countries in Europe, North Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Conservation agriculture is spreading fast, but not everywhere
The first observation: more and more farmers in a growing number of countries are adopting conservation agriculture. This growth has been particularly marked in the main producing and selling countries in South and North America** and in Australia. Whereas in 1990, the technology was in use on less than 10 million hectares in Latin America, it now concerns more than 40 million. In India, the area under wheat with no-till has grown exponentially: from 400 hectares in 1998 to almost 2.2 million in 2005.
Europe, however, is still lagging behind, despite the interest shown in research circles in no-till and reduced soil tillage between the early 1960s and the 1990s. In Spain, conservation agriculture has been practised since the 1980s, although the exact area concerned is not known. In central and eastern Europe, in both the Baltic countries and south of the Mediterranean, systems based on conservation agriculture are gradually beginning to appear***. And for good reason: conservation agriculture quickly enables farmers to make substantial savings in terms of energy, machinery and above all workload, in a situation of ever-growing competition.
Reduced production costs have triggered interst among farmers
What are the reasons for this disparity? Various constraints dissuade farmers from embarking upon conservation agriculture or mean that they only use part of the technology. In effect, certain soil types (those that are susceptible to compaction, humid, etc) or climates (very humid, cold or too arid) do not lend themselves to the technique. Permanent cover and rotation in particular are supposed to protect the soil against erosion and control weeds, pests and diseases, but they mean increased costs for farmers: crops grown in rotation do not always find market outlets; in some cases, cover fosters pest and disease development; and suitable plants and varieties are still in short supply. This accounts for the often intensive use of pesticides.
Moreover, in Europe, production levels are already very high, and introducing conservation agriculture does not produce very spectacular increases in yields (+/- 10%). The only real advantage is the reduction in production costs, and it is this that seems to be arousing the interest of European farmers at present.
It is still necessary to develop and improve the technology and adapt it to the different favourable situations. The impact of conservation agriculture on soil properties and functioning and on the micro- and macroorganisms that live in it is not yet fully understood. It is also important to look more closely at the consequences of the pollutants, heavy metals and pesticides used for soil and water quality and the food chain. Moreover, it is necessary to determine the social and economic repercussions, notably for employment, rural development (and particularly education and the situation of women in poor countries) and food prices. More generally, while the short-term benefits are sufficiently clear for conservation agriculture to have found a place in the landscapes of several continents, there are still many questions concerning its positive or negative impact in the long term.
Rabah Lahmar | alfa
Forest Management Yields Higher Productivity through Biodiversity
14.10.2016 | Technische Universität München
Farming with forests
23.09.2016 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences