Conservation Agriculture Facilitator’s Guidebook
Conservation Agriculture (CA) has spread in the past 40 years to cover 105 million hectares of farmland worldwide (ACT 2008). CA’s effectiveness in retaining soil moisture, improving soil quality, lowering input costs and producing stable, high yields of crops leaves little doubt that it will be central to creating food security in a world of increasing population and climate uncertainty.
Unfortunately, however, the adoption of CA among small-scale farmers has lagged far behind that of large-scale mechanized farmers. The challenges hindering the adoption of CA among small-scale farmers include the great diversity of crops and farming approaches that make standardization of CA technologies virtually impossible. Overly rigid extension methods and materials further hinder the spread of CA technologies when they promote a one-size-fits-all approach.
This Conservation Agriculture Facilitator’s Guidebook is designed to address these challenges by building adaptation and diversity into every aspect of its production and dissemination. The materials presented herein are agronomically sound, but simple enough to be understood by farmers with little formal education. By reproducing them in electronic format only, without copyright, we hope that they will be shared widely, customized, and improved by each Project Field Officer that uses them.
How to use these Conservation Agriculture training materials
These training materials are organized in modules designed to facilitate discussions with groups of 10-25 farmers. The suggested core modules include:
1. Situation Analysis: Why CA?
2. Minimum Tillage With Planting Basins
3. Importance of Soil Cover
4. Planting with Precision
5. Cover crops
6. Weed Management in Conservation Agriculture
7. Crop Residue Management
These core modules can create the 1st year curriculum for a CA farmer-training project. You may, however, decide that in your context, one or more of these modules is not relevant. Alternatively, you may decide that another subject needs to be added to create a sound 1st year training program. In year 2 and beyond, other subjects should be added to help farmers move beyond these basic concepts. Modules for additional subjects (e.g. CA with Animal Traction, Agroforestry, Postharvest storage, etc.) are being developed and will be posted on the ACT website: http://www.act-africa.org/library.php?com=5.
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