Conservation agriculture for building climate change resilient farming systems
ICARDA scientists have been investigating climate change resilient farming systems for two decades. Conservation Agriculture (CA) has been found to be one of the key tools for combating climate change. ICARDA’s investigations into CA started in 2000 first in Central Asia, and then extended to North Africa, West Asia and South Asia. CA is based on three main principles; i) no or minimum soil disturbance, ii) organic soil cover and iii) diversified crop rotation. CA practices have a direct influence on climate regulation through carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions, and regulation and provision of water through soil physical, chemical and biological properties. Perhaps the most important benefits of CA for the dry areas are related to better soil and water retention and storage as compared to conventional agriculture. Soils under CA have very high water infiltration capacities reducing surface runoff and thus soil erosion significantly. This improves the quality of surface water reducing pollution from soil erosion, and enhances groundwater resources. Stored soil water is very helpful during spells of drought.