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Introducing Conservation Agriculture to Rural Communities in Zambia for a Sustainable Agriculture

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Introducing conservation agriculture to rural communities in Zambia for a sustainable agriculture.

Southern African rural farming communities are undergoing frequent crop failures and occasional famines due to repeated droughts and expected negative effects of climate change along with the dwindling soil fertility (Thierfelder et al.2012). Conservation of agriculture is introduced to reduce to soil disturbance, in situ mulching and crop substitution and associations. This experiment was carried out to investigate the effect of different CA systems under on farm condition in two different communities, Malende and Kayowozi, along with one on station study on long term maize yield in Zambia. In Malende, main crop was maize which was planted in substitutes with legumes under 3 different treatments. Maize was the sole crop in Kayowozi substituted and intercropped with cowpea in 4 different treatments while on-station was treated in 3 different ways with maize and cotton in rotations. Throughout the experiment soil quantity, infiltration, soil moisture and yield were measured for CA treatments and conventionally tilled control plots. In Malende, after 6 cropping seasons, maize yield from both animal traction rip line seeded (75%) and direct seeded plot (91%) treatments were higher than the conventionally controlled plots. After 4 cropping seasons in Kayowozi, when compared with both ridge and furrow system treatments in conventionally plots, maize yield increased by 78% in direct seeded CA treatment using cowpea seeded with a dibble stick in full rotation treatment. Increase in water infiltration and soil moisture is seen with using cotton in rotation. The main reason for the lower carbon measurements at on-farm compared with on-station was due to lack of mulching in on-farm sites. When compared with conventional systems over time, we can conclude that both residues on CA and crop substitution of CA resulted in improved soil quality and successful stable yields. Nevertheless it is important that whole community to be targeted to overcome the barriers of a rural farming community.

Keywords

Conservation agriculture soil moisture

Substitute increased yield

Animal traction

Mulching

Conventional control plots

Water infiltration

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