Conservation Agriculture: A System for Sustainable Food Production
Conservation agriculture (CA) is to conserve, improve and make more efficient use of natural resources through integrated management of available soil, water and biological resources combined with external inputs. It contributes to environmental conservation as well as to enhanced and sustained agricultural production. CA can also be referred to as resource efficient or resource effective agriculture.
Conservation agriculture maintains a permanent or semi-permanent soil cover. This can be a growing crop or dead mulch. Its function is to protect the soil physically from sun, rain and wind and to feed soil biota. Therefore, zero or minimum tillage and direct seeding are important elements of CA. A varied crop rotation is also important to avoid disease and pest problem.
Objective of conservation tillage
- To conserve Time
- To conserve Fuel
- To conserve Earthworm
- To conserve Soil water
- To conserve Soil structure
- To conserve Nutrients
Tillage is the preparation of soil for planting and the process of keeping it loose and free from weeds during growth of crops.
Merits of tillage:
- Incorporation of residues, weeds & amendments added to soil (organic & inorganic fertilizers)
- Facilitation of seedbed preparation
- Aeration of soil OM helping nutrients availability in soils to plants
- Control of soil and residue-borne diseases and pests
- Avoids soil compaction
Demerits of tillage:
- Soil degradation
- Detrimental effects on environment
- Maintenance, operator and fuel cost is high
- Greenhouse gas emissions causing global warming
- Costs on feeding and caring for draft animals
- Soil OM deoxidized resulting in loss of OM content
- Disturbed microbial activity
- Breakdown of soil aggregates due to raindrops causing clogging of soil pores
- Reduction in infiltration rate, increased run-off causing soil erosion
- Crust formation on soil surface
- Plow-pan formation due to tractor movement
Minimum tillage is the minimum soil manipulation necessary for crops production or for meeting tillage requirements under the existing soil conditions.
No-tillage or Zero-tillage:
Planting is done directly into slits opened on an untilled seedbed.
Some of the equipment for Conservation Agriculture are:
PTD (Power Till Drill):
Power Till Drill is popular among small to medium-scale farmers, as the drill performs three operations soil tilling, seed sowing and planking simultaneously.
ZTD (Zero Till Drill):
Planting is done directly into slits opened on an untilled seedbed after rice harvest; furrows are opened in which seed and fertilizers are uniformly deposited.
Animal Drawn Harrow:
This has been invented by farmers which plays vital role in resource conservation by reducing tillage.
Laser Land Leveller:
Laser land leveling is leveling the field within certain degree of desired slope using a guided laser beam throughout the field. Laser leveling of agricultural land is a recent resource-conservation technology. It has the potential to change the way food is produced by enhancing resource-use efficiency of critical inputs without any disturbing and harmful effects on the productive resilience of the ecosystem. For more: Click Here>>>
Thus, through conservation technology we can get more food production from less land. There will be minimal impact on environment; more efficient use of natural resources as well as Lower production costs. Similarly, encouragement for the development of perfect equipment for conservation agriculture.