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Notes on Conservation Agriculture

Notes on Conservation Agriculture:


  • Global population growth demands increased food, fibre, oil production.
  • Continuous soil tilling without organic matter harms soil health.
  • India's goal: Produce an additional 64 million tonnes of food by 2020.
  • Enhance soil Carbon (C) and Nitrogen (N) sequestration for sustainability.
  • Conservation agriculture focuses on productivity and sustainability using available resources.

History Of Conservation Tillage / Agriculture:

  • 8000 BC: Earliest no-till planting with planting sticks.
  • 6000 BC: Draft animals used for ploughing.
  • 3500 BC: Introduction of Plough-share.
  • 1100 AD: Mouldboard plough introduced.
  • Jethro Tull (1671-1741): Known as 'Father of Tillage', emphasized on tillage.
  • Edward H. Faulkner (1886-1964): Criticized mouldboard plough, wrote 'Plowman's Folly: A Second Look'.
  • 1970s: Development of no-till drills.
  • 1990s: Introduction of new generation machines like happy seeder/turbo seeder.
  • Evolution of conservation agriculture in the USA due to land degradation and oil prices.
  • 1930s Dust Bowl in the U.S. due to extensive tillage.

Definition Of Conservation Agriculture:

  • Farming system promoting minimum soil disturbance, permanent soil cover, and plant species diversification.
  • Enhances biodiversity and biological processes, contributing to sustainable crop production.

Scope, Area And Equipment:

  • Challenges in conventional agriculture: declining productivity, soil health issues, yield trends, and environmental impact.
  • Intensive tillage in conventional agriculture has numerous drawbacks.
  • Conservation agriculture offers solutions to these challenges.

Principles Of Conservation Agriculture:

  • Three basic principles: minimal soil disturbance, permanent soil cover, diversified crop rotations.
  • Controlled traffic considered the fourth principle.

Usefulness And Limitations/Constraints Of Conservation Agriculture:

  • Benefits: Improved soil health, water retention, reduced pollution, increased biodiversity, GHGs emissions reduction.
  • Constraints: Machine-dependency, residue management challenges, weed control issues.

Global Conservation Agriculture Area:

  • 157 million ha of arable land under conservation agriculture globally.
  • Major areas include USA, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, and Australia.

Equipment Availability:

  • Equipment availability is crucial for adopting conservation agriculture.
  • Innovations like turbo seeder, happy seeder, multi-crop planter developed.
  • Equipment available for different scales of farming.

Conventional Vs. Conservation Agriculture:

  • Comparison between conventional and conservation agriculture in various aspects.

Minimal Soil Disturbance:

  • Conservation agriculture advocates less or no tilling to preserve soil health.

Permanent Organic Soil Cover:

  • Importance of retaining crop residues on the soil surface as mulch.

Diversified Crop Rotation with a Legume:

  • Role of crop rotation in pest control, nutrient recycling, and soil health improvement.

Conservation Agriculture Practices:

  • Practices include laser land leveling, conservation tillage, bed planting, direct-seeded rice, brown manuring, crop residue management, crop diversification.

Impact Of Conservation Agriculture:

  • Improved water-use efficiency/productivity, soil health, mitigation and adaptation of climate change.


  • Cost-benefit analysis of conservation agriculture compared to conventional practices.


  • Conservation agriculture improves resource use efficiency and sustainability.
  • Research and development focus on conservation agriculture practices suitable for Indian conditions.

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