According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), “ Conservation agriculture is an approach to managing agro-ecosystems for improved and sustained productivity, increased profits and food security while preserving and enhancing the resource base and the environment”.
The principles of conservation agriculture principles could be applied to all agricultural lands and practiced in all agro-ecological zones.
It entails optimum usage of agrochemicals, organic and inorganic fertilisers in ways and quantities that do not interfere with, or disrupt biological processes, in addition minimising or totally eliminating mechanical disturbance to the soil.
Conservation agriculture (CA) facilitates good agronomy, such as timely operations, and improves overall agricultural land using both irrigation and rain-fed production.
It counters the concept of soil tillage/ ploughing prior to planting, additionally marking it as being responsible for destruction of soil organic matter, a crucial element for the stabilisation of soil structure.
It is worthy to note that a soil left without tilling for long allows crops residues/mulch to remain on the soil surface, as such protecting the soil from rainfall, heat from the sun and wind. It also stabilises temperature and moisture which becomes conducive for beneficial small and large organisms that help in decomposition of the mulch for stabilising the soil structure.
For this method to be effective, integrated pest management becomes necessary.
One of the ways to achieve this is through crop rotation, which involves interrupting the chain of disease if any. Also, chemical pesticides and herbicides may be used but with caution to minimise their effects on soil life.
Soils under conservation agriculture have significantly higher water infiltration capacities, with high reduction in surface runoff that causes soil erosion.