Integrated conservation agriculture practices produce the best results on long term trial plots
The importance of applying all three key elements of conservation agriculture (CA) is clearly visible on long-term CA trial plot D5 at CIMMYT's headquarters, El Batán, Mexico. The healthy maize on the right is being grown in rotation with wheat, with zero tillage on the flat and retention of all crop residues, whereas the maize on the left is being grown under otherwise identical conditions but with removal of all residues.
The aim of CA is to produce stable, high yields with low environmental impact, through the principles of zero tillage, residue retention, and crop rotation. As seen here, residue retention plays a crucial role in protecting the soil and retaining moisture. CIMMYT tests a wide range of combinations of CA and conventional practices as part of its long term trials. The results clearly demonstrate that integrated CA practices give the best yields.
Photo credit: X. Fonseca/CIMMYT.