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.