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
Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product
02.12.2016 | Purdue University
New findings about the deformed wing virus, a major factor in honey bee colony mortality
11.11.2016 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
07.12.2016 | Earth Sciences
07.12.2016 | Earth Sciences
07.12.2016 | Materials Sciences