Conservation Agriculture Research Updates - April 2018
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Conservation Agriculture Research Updates - April 2018
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Reducing losses but failing to sequester carbon in soils: the case of conservation agriculture and integrated soil fertility management in the humid tropical agro-ecosystem of Western Kenya.

Sommer, R., B.K. Paul, J. Mukalama & J. Kihara. 2018. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment. 254: 82-91. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2017.11.004

Cornell Conservation Agriculture Group (soilhealth.org)'s insight:

This study measured SOC in the top 15cm over 12 years in two agronomic long-term trials in Western Kenya. These trials include various levels – from absence to full adoption – of two widely promoted sustainable agricultural management practices: Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM; i.e. improved varieties, mineral fertilizer and organic matter/manure incorporation) and Conservation Agriculture (CA; improved varieties, mineral fertilizer, zero-tillage and crop residues retention). None of the tested ISFM and CA treatments turned out successful in sequestering SOC long-term. Adopting zero-tillage and residue retention alone (as part of CA) could avoid SOC losses of on average 0.13tCha−1 yr−1, while this was 0.26tCha−1 yr−1 in response to mere inclusion of manure as part of ISFM.

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The adaptive capacity of maize-based conservation agriculture systems to climate stress in tropical and sub-tropical environments: A meta-regression of yields.

Steward, P.R., A.J. Dougill, C. Thierfelder, C.M. Pittelkow, L.C. Stringer, M. Kudzala & G.M. Shackelford. 2018. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment. 251: 194-202. http:dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2017.09.019

Cornell Conservation Agriculture Group (soilhealth.org)'s insight:

This study for the sub-tropics and tropics, used meta-regression, in combination with global soil and climate datasets, to test four hypotheses: (1) that relative yield performance of conservation agriculture improves with increasing drought and temperature stress; (2) that the effects of moisture and temperature stress exposure interact; (3) that the effects of moisture and temperature stress are modified by soil texture; and (4) that crop diversification, fertilizer application rate, or the time since no-till implementation will enhance conservation agriculture performance under climate stress. The results show through meta-regression that conservation agriculture enhances the adaptive capacity of maize production in sub-Saharan Africa under drought and/or heat stress. However, in very wet seasons and on clay-rich soils, conservation agriculture yields less compared to conventional practices.

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Evaluating carbon sequestration for conservation agriculture and tillage systems in Cambodia using the EPIC model.

Le, K.N., M.K. Jha, M.R. Reyes, J. Jeong, L. Dora, P.W. Gassman, L. Hok, J. Carlos de Moraes Sa & S. Boulakia. 2018. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2017.09.009

Cornell Conservation Agriculture Group (soilhealth.org)'s insight:

This study evaluated SOC sequestration for several long-term rainfed cropping systems for CA and conservation tillage (CT) in Cambodia using the EPIC model.  In all CA treatments, forage or legume cover crops were prior planted and intercropped with the primary crops to maintain full soil cover. Crop residue was found to highly influence SOC sequestration. Sediment loss in the CT treatments was found to be four times greater than CA treatments due to the CT tillage effects. The 20-year future simulations, using historical weather and automatically generated by EPIC, showed a decrease trend in SOC stocks in all CT treatments and an increase trend in most CA treatments. The CA treatments in combination with the maize rotation were demonstrated to be more efficient to manage SOC sequestration over CA with one continuous primary crop.

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Genotype by tillage interaction and performance progress fro bread and durum wheat genotypes on irrigated raised beds.

Honsdorf, N., M.J. Mulvaney, R.P. Singh, K. Ammar, J. Burgueno, B. Govaerts & N. Verhulst. 2018. Field Crops Research. 216: 42-52. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fcr.2017.11.011

Cornell Conservation Agriculture Group (soilhealth.org)'s insight:

This paper looks at whether tillage should be an evaluation factor in breeding programs. 26 bread and durum  wheat genotypes created from 1964-2009 were tested for yield and agronomic performance over 6 years in Mexico using conventional (CT) tillage and permanent raised beds with full and reduced irrigation. Breeding progress was achieved irrespective of agronomic treatment. Tillage influenced plant growth and number of grains per m2 in both wheat types. In bread wheat, genotype by tillage interaction was significant for yield, test weight, and growth parameters. However, no cross-over effects were detected and rank changes were small. In durum wheat, genotype by tillage interaction was only significant for plant growth. The results do not indicate the need for separate breeding programs. However, the question of a need for selection under zero tillage to increase breeding progress is yet to be answered.

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Conservation agriculture effects on crop and water productivity, profitability and soil organic carbon accumulation under a maize-wheat cropping system in the Noth-western Indo-Gangetic Plains.

Das, T.K., Y.S. Saharawat, R. Bhattacharyya, S. Sudhishri, K.K. Bandyopadhyay, A.R. Sharma & M.L. Jat. 2018. Field Crops Research. 215: 222-231. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fcr.2017.10.021

Cornell Conservation Agriculture Group (soilhealth.org)'s insight:

This is another paper that looks at inclusion of maize instead of rice in the RW systems of NW India. This paper also looks at the impacts of CA management on MW systems in a three year experiment to look at crop and water productivity, profitability and soil organic carbon accumulation. Results showed that the plots under permanent broad bed with residue (PBB+R) and without residue (PBB) resulted in 29 and 26% higher maize grain yield, respectively than conventional tillage (CT) (2.6tha−1), but wheat grain yields were comparable in all the treatments in first year. The PBB+R was superior to other practices. This also saves water through higher water-use efficiency, and lead to accumulation of more carbon in soil with higher sequestration potential, besides giving sustainable production of maize and wheat over the years. It also gave higher net returns compared to CT.

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Importance of cover crops in alleviating negative effects of reduced soil tillage and promoting soil fertility in winter wheat cropping system.

Buchi, L., M. Wendling, C. Amosse, M.Necpalova, & R. Charles. 2018. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment. 256: 92-104. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2018.01.005

Cornell Conservation Agriculture Group (soilhealth.org)'s insight:

Reduced tillage can lead to yield reduction and weed problems, especially in the early stages of adoption. This paper looks at cover crops as a way to control weeds and sustain yields. 8 cover crop treatments were used in a long term experiment in Switzerland. Cover crops were cultivated for a short 2 months between two winter wheat crops. In all treatments the cover crops  suppressed weed biomass compared to no cover crops. Wheat yield was higher in the minimum tillage treatment than the plough treatment. Results demonstrated that the presence of a well-developed cover crop, even for only two months, sustains wheat yield in a no till treatment. It impacts also soil fertility and nutrient cycling.

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Evaluation of long-term conservation agriculture and crop intensification in rice-wheat rotation of Indo-Gangetic Plains of South Asia: Carbon dynamics and productivity

S.K. Samal, Rao, K.K., Poonia, S.P., Kumar, R., Mishra, J.S., Prakash, V., Mondal, S., Dwivedi, S.K., Bhatt, B.P., Naik, S.K., Choubey, A.K., Kumar, V., Malik, R.K., & McDonald, A. 2017. European Journal of Agronomy. 90: 198-208. http:dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eja.2017.08.006

Cornell Conservation Agriculture Group (soilhealth.org)'s insight:

This paper used a long-term field experiment to better understand the role of deteriorating soil health, stagnation of yield in rice-wheat systems in the Indo-Gangetic Plains and environmental pollution. Four crop scenarios with conservation agriculture (CA), crop intensification and diversified cropping as intervening technology aimed to evaluate the sustainability of the systems. Among the 4 scenarios, the S3 scenario (a legume crop was taken along with rice and wheat with full CA) had greater amount of total soil organic carbon, passive pool of carbon and higher system rice equivalent yield, thus, is considered the best cropping management practice to maintain soil health and food security in the middle IGP.

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Burning issues of paddy residue management in north-west states of India

S.K. Lohan, Jat, H.S., Yadav, A.K., Sidhu, H.S., Jat, M.L., Choudhary, M., Peter, J.K. & Sharma, P.C. 2018. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. 81 (part 1): 693-706. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2017.08.057

 

Cornell Conservation Agriculture Group (soilhealth.org)'s insight:

Disposal of paddy residue is one of the causes of severe air pollution in NW India. Farmers prefer to burn rice residues after combine harvesting to simplify planting wheat after rice. Management of this residue is important for supply of nutrients for plants and soil microbes.This paper also discusses the possible strategies, financial and socio-economic evaluation of the paddy residue management technologies and accentuates the assessment of range of potential policy instruments which would offer avenues for sustainable agriculture and environment.Timely availability of conservation agriculture (CA) machinery is of utmost significance to manage the paddy residues in-situ. They conclude that there is an urgent need to create awareness among farming communities to understand the importance of crop residues in CA and their role in improving soil health, sustainability and resilience in Indian agriculture. 

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Conservation Agriculture in the Indo-Gangetic Plains of India: Past, Present and Future. 

P. Hobbs, Gupta, R., Jat, R.K., & Malik, R.K. 2017. Experimental Agriculture. On-line. 19 pages. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0014479717000424

Cornell Conservation Agriculture Group (soilhealth.org)'s insight:

This paper follows the progress made in India for research and farmer adoption of conservation agriculture (CA) since the publication of Erenstein (2012), who contested the idea that zero-till (ZT) establishment of wheat in rice–wheat systems could be further developed into full CA systems. The paper presents data to show that both rice and wheat phases of the system leading to increased yields, water use efficiency and profits, while labour needs are reduced. A key factor has been the development of improved seed drills with the help of Indian private sector manufacturers of agricultural equipment.The paper concludes that in the rice–wheat systems of South Asia, adoption of CA is indeed possible to achieve

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Changes in soil biology under conservation agriculture based sustainable intensification of cereal systems in Indo-Gangetic Plains

M. Chaudhary, Datta, A., Jat, H.S., Yadav, A.K., Gathala, M.K., Sapkota, T.B., Das, A.K., Sharma, P.C., Jat, M.L., Singh, R., & Ladha, J.K. 2018. Geoderma. 313 (supplement C): 193-204. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.geoderma.2017.10.041

Cornell Conservation Agriculture Group (soilhealth.org)'s insight:

This paper used a farmer participatory research trial in Karnal, India to evaluate 8 combinations of cropping systems, tillage, crop establishment method and residue management effects on key soil physico-chemical and biological properties. Bulk density was highest in the CT -residue RW treatment and lowest in the ZT + residue MW treatment.MW system with ZT and residue (T8: MW/ZT+Rm) registered 208, 263, 210 and 48% improvement in soil microbial biomass C (MBC) and N, dehydrogenase activity (DHA) and alkaline phosphatase activity (APA), whereas RW system in T4 (RW/ZT+Rm) registered 83, 81, 44 and 13%, respectively as compared with T1 (RW/CT−R), the business as usual scenario. MW/ZT + Residue also recorded the highest microbial population viz. bacteria, fungi and actinomycetes.

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How does no-till deliver carbon stabilization and saturation in highly weathered soils?

How does no-till deliver carbon stabilization and saturation in highly weathered soils? | Conservation Agriculture Research Updates - April 2018 | Scoop.it

C. Briedes, de Moraes Sa, J.C., Lal, R., Tivet, F., Franchini, J.C., de Oliveira Ferreira, A., da Cruz Hartman, D., Schmiguel, R., Bressan, P.T., Inagaki, T.M., Romaniw, J., & Goncalves, D.R.P. 2018. Catena. 163:13-23. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.catena.2017.12.003

Cornell Conservation Agriculture Group (soilhealth.org)'s insight:

This study is based on the hypothesis that the increased physical C protection provides sufficient time to strengthen the interaction between C fractions and soil minerals, as being the pathway for C stabilization and accumulation in highly weathered soils in Brazil.The data show that all C fractions were affected by soil management systems. However, the impact was more pronounced with the labile C fractions than with the mineral-associated C fractions. They conclude that the long-term use of NT might be the pathway for physical protection of the labile C fractions as well as strong organo-mineral associations.

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Mechanized minimum soil disturbance establishment and yield of diverse crops in paddy fields using a two-wheel  tractor mounted planter suitable for smallholder cropping. 

Bell, R.W., Haque, M.E., Johansen, C., Vance, W., Kabir, M.E., Musa, M.A., Mia, M.N.N., Neogi, M.G., & Islam, M.A. 2017. Experimental Agriculture. On-line. 1-19 pages. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0014479717000370

Cornell Conservation Agriculture Group (soilhealth.org)'s insight:

Despite increasing population in Bangladesh and the region, shortages of hired labor mean mechanization interest is increasing. This paper explores the suitability of a versatile multi-crop planter (VMP) for zero-tillage (ZT), strip planting (SP) and single pass shallow tillage (SPST) on flat and bed planting when mounted on a two-wheel tractor (2WT) suitable for the small plots in this country. They planted chickpea, lentil, jute, maize, mung bean, rice and wheat with this planter compared with conventional broadcast seeding and full rotary tillage (CT).Plant populations emerging from all single pass operations viz. SP, ZT, and bed planting (BP) were satisfactory and in 12 out of 15 experiments plant populations after SP were similar to or greater than after CT.This opens up realistic options for the development of mechanised conservation agriculture suited to small field sizes.

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Agro-ecological functions of crop residues under conservation agriculture. A review

Ranaivoson, L., K. Naudin, A. Ripoche, F. Affholder, L. Rabeharisoa & M. Corbeels. Agronomy for Sustainable Development. 37: 1-17.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13593-017-0432-z

Cornell Conservation Agriculture Group (soilhealth.org)'s insight:

This study used a meta-analysis of the literature, to study the relative effects of surface crop residue levels on the performance of a set of agro-ecological functions compared with a no-till bare soil, i.e., without surface residues.The selected agro-ecological functions were soil water evaporation control, soil water infiltration, soil water runoff control, soil loss control, soil nutrient availability, soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks and gains, weed control and soil meso- and macrofauna abundance. They observed differences in various parameters with improvements with surface residues  compared to bare soil. 

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Early adoption of conservation agriculture practices: Understanding partial compliance in programs with multiple adoption decisions.

Ward, P.S., A.R. Bell, K. Droppelmann & T.G. Benton. 2018. Land Use Policy. 70: 27-37. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.landusepol.2017.10.001

Cornell Conservation Agriculture Group (soilhealth.org)'s insight:

This study looks at whether CA can influence land degradation and soil erosion challenges in Southern Africa. Despite the many potential benefits of CA, however, adoption remains low. Yet relatively little is known about the decision making process in choosing to adopt CA or any of its constituent practices. Unlike what is implicitly assumed when these packages of practices are introduced, farmers view adoption of CA as a series of separate decisions, rather than a single decision. They find strong evidence of interrelated decisions, particularly among mulching crop residues and practicing zero tillage, suggesting that mulching residues and intercropping or rotating with legumes introduces a multiplier effect on the adoption of zero tillage.

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Combined effects of cover crops, mulch, zero-tillage and resistant varieties on Striga asiatica (L.) Kuntze in rice-maize rotation systems.

Randrianjafizanaka, M.T., P. Autfray, A.P. Andrianaivo, I.R. Ramonta & J. Rodenburg. 2018. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment. 256: 23-33. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2017.12.005

Cornell Conservation Agriculture Group (soilhealth.org)'s insight:

Low input rice-maize systems in the hills of Madagascar suffer from erratic rainfall, poor soils, soil erosion and infestation with Striga. They looked at CA (ZT plus permanent soil cover  by intercropping of legumes and residue mulches) to remedy these problems. In all CA practices S. asiatica infection was significantly reduced. Best results were obtained with Stylosanthes guianensis (CAST). This species also suppressed ordinary weeds much better than other cover crops. With CAST, average parasite emergence was delayed by 7.5 days (in rice) and 6.3 days (in maize) and infection levels were reduced by 79% (in rice) and 92% (in maize) compared to the conventional farmer practice (CONV). They did conclude, though,  that even the combination of zero-tillage, crop residue mulching, cover crops and resistant rice varieties does not entirely prevent S. asiatica parasitism and seed bank increase. Additional measures, targeted to escaping weeds, would be required for fully effective and long-term control.

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Heat stress and yield stability of wheat genotypes under different sowing dates across agro-ecosystems in India.

Jat, R.K., P. Singh, M.L. Jat, M. Dia, H.S. Sidhu, S.L. Jat, D. Bijarniya, H.S. Jat, C.M. Parihar, U. Kumar & S.L. Ridaura. 2018. Field Crops Research. 218: 33-50. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fcr.2017.12.020

Cornell Conservation Agriculture Group (soilhealth.org)'s insight:

This paper looks at the effect of shifted planting dates of wheat on mitigating the potential increase in food insecurity resulting from temperature rise due to climate change. A diverse set of twenty-one genotypes was evaluated over three years (2012–2014) under ten levels of crop management practices (ten different dates of sowing: D01-D10) across three agro-ecological regions (BR (Bihar), MP (Madhya Prdesh) and PB (Punjab)) of India in replicated trials. Results revealed that the impact of shifted sowing dates on yield stability was unevenly spread across management practices. Across locations, the genotype ‘CSW 18’ (G03), ‘DPW 621-50’ (G05), and ‘BAZ’ (G01) were the best performers and highly stable in early, normal and later sowing dates, respectively. This would be important for ZT systems where earlier planting is more feasible than with CT.

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Enzymes and C-pools as indicators of C build up in short-term conservation agriculture in savanna ecosystem in Cambodia.

Hok, L., J.C. de Moraes Sa, M. Reyes, S. Boulakia, F. Tivet, V. Leng, R. Kong, C. Briedis, D. da Cruz Hartman, L.A. Ferreira, T.M. Inagaki, D.R.P. Goncalves & P.T. Bressan. 2018. Soil and Tillage Research. 177: 125-133. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.still.2017.11.015

Cornell Conservation Agriculture Group (soilhealth.org)'s insight:

This paper uses soil organic carbon and soil enzymes as indicators of short term impacts of soil management. It looks at the impact of tillage and crop rotations with diverse residue inputs on these two indicators in rice-, soybean-, and cassava-based cropping systems in Cambodia. After 5 years experiment period, greater hot-water extractable organic C (HWEO-C) stocks of 61%, 55% and 53%, and permanganate oxidizable C (POX-C) stocks of 23%, 21% and 32% were attributed to NT than those in CT soils under RcCS, SbCS and CsCS, respectively, at 0–5 cm soil layer. They conclude that short-term NT crop rotations with permanent soil cover significantly increased the storage of HWEO-C and POX-C and enhanced β-glucosidase and arylsulfatase activities at the surface soil layer as a result of higher biomass-C input and the absence of soil disturbance.

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Evaluating alternatives to rice-wheat system in Western Indo-Gangetic Plains: Crop yields, water productivity and economic profitability.

Choudhary, K.M., H.S., Jat, D.P., Nandal, D.K., Bishnoi, J.M., Sutaliya, M. Choudhary, Yadvinder-Singh, P.C., Sharma & M.L. Jat. 2018. Field Crops Research. 218: 1-10. http:dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fcr.2017.12.023

Cornell Conservation Agriculture Group (soilhealth.org)'s insight:

Issues of water deficits and low water productivity of rice-wheat in northwest India led to research on replacing rice with less water requiring maize. It also looked at CA-based management (tillage, residue (R) and integration of mungbean (MB)), precision water management (PI) on crop and water productivity and economics in RW and MW systems. It also looked at fresh beds versus permanent beds. The results show that CA based sustainable intensification of MW systems (PBMW + MB + R + PI) is a better alternative than the RW system (ZTRW + MB + R + PI) as it provides opportunities for saving 79% of precious water, enhancing crop and water productivity by 12 and 145%, respectively along with high (34%) economic benefits.

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Adoption and Abandonment of Partial Conservation Technologies in Developing Economies: The Case of South Asia

D'Souza, A., & A.K. Mishra. 2018. Land Use Policy. 70: 212-223. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landusepol.2017.10.015

Cornell Conservation Agriculture Group (soilhealth.org)'s insight:

This paper looks at the adoption of CA -- partial and complete - in South Asia (India, Nepal and Bangladesh). It looks at the factors affecting adoption and did-adoption with particular reference to the role of spouses and social networks. They find social networks have a significant positive effect on adoption but negative for abandonment. Spouses also have a positive effect on adoption. Farmers that had seen partial CA in action were more likely to adopt than if they just heard from neighbors.

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Microbial and Biochemical Origins of Soil Organic Matter: Insights from History and Recent Ecological and Bio-molecular Advances.

D.L.N. Rao. In: S.K.Sanyal (Ed.) Souvenir 82nd Annual Convention and National Seminar of Indian Society of Soil Science, Kolkata, Dec11-14, 2017, pp. 77-89. http://dx.doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.26676.96644

Cornell Conservation Agriculture Group (soilhealth.org)'s insight:

This is an interesting article on soil organic matter that is so important for maintaining soil health.The role of microbes was thought to be restricted only to decomposing the plant and animal matter and production of intermediate molecules.This paper is asking questions about the nature and very existence of "humic materials" in soil, which might appear outlandish at first but nevertheless forces us to ponder, why they were never asked earlier in the first place.

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Are all three components of conservation agriculture necessary for soil conservation in the Sudan Savanna?

K. Ikazaki, Nagumo, F., Simpore, S., & Barro, A. 2017. Soil Science and Plant Nutrition. On-Line. 8 pages. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00380768.2017.1422393

 

Cornell Conservation Agriculture Group (soilhealth.org)'s insight:

CA was expected to become an effective countermeasure against water erosion in the Sudan Savanna, but it has not been adopted by local smallholder farmers. Grain legumes (including cowpea) have not been developed in the Sudan Savanna so this study examined whether legume intercropping as a crop rotation/association component is necessary for preventing soil erosion. Three-year field experiments were conducted in runoff plots.Their result demonstrate that the third component of CA, namely legume intercropping, is not always necessary; rather, the two remaining components – minimum soil disturbance and soil cover – are sufficient for soil conservation in the Sudan Savanna.

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Conservation agriculture improves yield and reduces weeding activity in sandy soils of Cambodia

D.A. Edralin, Sigua, G.C., Reyes, M.R., Mulvaney, M.J. & Andrews, S.S. 2017. Agronomy for Sustainable Development. 37 (52): 5: 1-11. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13593-017-0461-7

Cornell Conservation Agriculture Group (soilhealth.org)'s insight:

Intensive tillage in Cambodia has resulted in significant decline in natural resources. This study was conducted in 10 farmer's fields to compare conventional tillage with CA in terms of yields and weed activities. The results supported the promises of CA. For weeding, manual weeding in all cropping seasons was significantly reduced by about 35% in conservation agriculture that can be attributed to the cover crops and mulch. The results show that adoption of conservation agriculture saves natural resources, improves yield, and reduces labor. Additional studies are needed over a longer time period.

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Efficiency of Conservation Agriculture Production Systems for Smallholders in Rain-Fed Uplands of India: A Transformative Approach to Food Security

C. Chan, Sipes, B., Ayman, A., Zhang, X., LaPorte, P., Fernandes, F., Pradhan, A., Chan-Dentoni, J. & Roul, P. 2017. Land. 6 (58): 1-12. http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/land6030058

Cornell Conservation Agriculture Group (soilhealth.org)'s insight:

56 households in Odisha, India were selected to evaluate farmers' efficiency using conservation agriculture (CA) cropping system practices. Conventional tillage with the local maize cultivar was compared to reduced tillage with improved maize cultivar and maize intercropped with cowpea.The conservation agriculture cropping systems improved maize yields by 60% to 70% when compared to conventional farming system. The authors suggest that CA  combined with improved farmer efficiency for use of inputs can substantially increase productivity.

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Soil biochemical changes at different wheat growth stages in response to conservation agriculture practices in a rice-wheat system of north-western India.

Bera, T., Sharma, S.,Thind, H.S., Sidhu, H.S., & Jat, M.L. 2018. Soil Research. 56 (1): 91-104. http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/SR16357

Cornell Conservation Agriculture Group (soilhealth.org)'s insight:

The paper lists a number of causes of soil degradation in NW Indian R-W systems. ZT, DSR and crop residues show promise to alleviate these problems but little is known about the soil biology effects. This paper looks at CA practices on these biological properties. They identified 3 enzyme activities and soil organic carbon content as the most sensitive indicators for assessing soil quality.

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Conservation Agriculture Systems to Mitigate Climate Variability Effects on Soil Health

Al-Kaisi, M.M. & R. Lal. 2017. In: Al-Kaisi, M.M. & Lowery, B. (Eds). Soil Health and Intensification on Agroecosystems. Chapter 4. 79-107. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-805317-1.00004-X

Cornell Conservation Agriculture Group (soilhealth.org)'s insight:

This is a chapter in a new book published by Academic Press that focuses on the impact of climate change on soil health. It highlights the role of conservation agriculture in affecting soil chemical, physical and biological functions.The interaction among different tillage and cropping systems effects on soil structure dynamics and the controlling factors that accelerate the enhancement of soil aggregation are discussed to understand the principal impacts of improving soil structure, taking into consideration soil temperature and moisture regimes, and nutrient availability

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