Conservation Agriculture

“Farming’s future”

Conservation Agriculture is a set of soil management principles based on…

  1. Minimising soil disturbance
  2. Residue Cover
  3. Crop Rotation

The aim of these principles is to manage carbon in and on the soil.

Minimising soil disturbance

This is essential to maintaining nutrients within the soil, stopping erosion and preventing water loss within the soil. Restricting tillage to the minimum limits the tragic destruction of soil carbon that happens whenever air is injected into the system. In turn, this encourages the build-up of the soil organic matter and bacterial activity crucial to soils with greater water-holding capabilities, more consistent nutrient supply capacitates and better drainage abilities. Of course it’s very effective in controlling problem grass weeds too. By leaving the majority of their seeds soundly asleep in undisturbed soil the only ones to emerge do so precisely where they face the most intense crop competition.

Residue cover

Conservation Agriculture requires 60-100% soil cover to protect the soil and reduce soil erosion. Wherever possible crop residue is left on the surface of the soil and more residue is produced by growing cover crops.

Crop rotation

Rotation is used to help control weeds and crop volunteers plus bringing diversity to the soil biology, this also facilitates the maximum use of cover crops.

Conventional agriculture is not sustainable . This is due to higher rates of soil erosion and loss of soil organic matter, which means losses in soil fertility. The operation of heavy machinery for tillage under conventional agriculture require high amounts of fuel and labour. Conservation Agriculture greatly reduces soil erosion and actually builds up soil organic matter reserves and soil fertility. Each individual farms need to consider the long-term positive economic and environmental impact Conservation Agriculture has.

Recent research undertaken by Sheffield University suggests we only have 100 harvest left in UK soils. Their study found…

“no-till can produce equivalent or greater yields than conventional tillage. Importantly, when no-till is combined with the other two conservation agriculture principles of residue retention and crop rotation, its negative impacts are minimized”