Southern Africa is a water-stressed region. This is exacerbated by climate change, high levels of soil degradation, soil erosion and a decline in soil fertility. In a region characterized by poverty, the need to boost and sustain productivity is critical. A potential solution to the problem is Conservation Agriculture (CA).
But, what is Conservation Agriculture (CA)?
CA involves managing agro-ecosystems to achieve higher sustained productivity, increased profits and food security without compromising the environment. This is based on three principles:
- Minimum soil disturbance - where crops are planted in unploughed soils, thus not disturbing the soil in terms of organic matter, loss of top soil and preventing soil erosion, thus minimizing soil water loss.
- Permanent soil cover - crop residues are retained in the field as mulch and/or cover crops are grown throughout the year. The soil is protected and water retention is optimized.
- Crop associations and rotations - Crops are planted in different associations and rotations with one another in space and over time. This method controls pests and diseases and assists in improving soil structure.