The good news of conservation agriculture continues to spread. In September, a publication called “Climate-Smart Agriculture” was released by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT); and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security. The publication explains the principles of conservation agriculture, challenges to its adoption, and its potential role in climate change mitigation. It also details relevant experiences in Mexico, India, Malawi, and Zambia.
One of the authors, Christian Thierfelder, a cropping system agronomist with CIMMYT in Zimbabwe, has been a close partner in a SANREM project in Southern Africa led by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. SANREM Director Adrian Ares said Thierfelder “has been an excellent collaborator during SANREM Phase IV, contributing both scientific expertise backed by his numerous peer-reviewed publications and strong emphasis on training farmers and other stakeholders.”
Research has shown that conservation agriculture may increase resilience to climate change as well as reduce climate change’s negative effects on soil health and crop yields. Because the benefits of conservation agriculture are site-specific, additional work is needed to determine which cropping systems perform best under different biophysical and socioeconomic conditions for smallholders worldwide. Moreover, innovative approaches at different scales are required to overcome barriers for smallholder farmers to adopt sustainable conservation agriculture systems.
With more and more publications recognizing the benefits of conservation agriculture and highlighting successes achieved across the globe, it seems we are on our way toward agricultural practices that are smart for both people and the climate.