"In a keynote speech to 1,000 participants at the IVth World Congress on Conservation Agriculture (CA) in New Delhi, Shivaji Pandey, Director of FAO's Plant Production and Protection Division, endorsed CA as an essential part of that change. "The world has no alternative to pursuing Sustainable Crop Production Intensification to meet the growing food and feed demand, to alleviate poverty and to protect its natural resources. Conservation Agriculture is an essential element of that Intensification," Pandey said. Conservation Agriculture is a farming system that does away with regular ploughing and tillage and promotes permanent soil cover and diversified crops rotation to ensure optimal soil health and productivity. Introduced some 25 years ago, it is now practiced on 100 million ha of land across the world. SIDE BARS ON fao home page with this article: # By doing away with regular tilling and ploughing, CA also reduces the workload on farmers by some 50 percent on average. It is also cheaper since fewer inputs are used, and mechanized farmers can save up to 70 percent in fuel costs. # CA's three basic principles - avoiding continuous mechanical soil disturbance, maintaining permanent organic soil cover and ensuring proper crop rotation - result in healthier soil which can produce more under drought and excess water conditions and has the potential to save 1,200 km³ of water a year by 2030. # It can help mitigate climate change not only by reducing the greenhouse gasses produced by the agriculture and forest sectors - which account for some 30 percent of total emissions - but by helping sequester carbon in soil at an average of some 0.5 tonnes per ha per year. This currently adds up to 54 million tonnes but will increase with the number of ha under CA.
Source: Farming Must Change to Feed the World, 2.4.09. http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/9962/icode/