n South African Journal of Plant and Soil - A review of conservation agriculture research in South Africa - review paper

Volume 35 Number 4
  • ISSN : 0257-1862
  • E-ISSN: 2167-034X
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Conservation agriculture (CA) is advocated as a sustainable farming method to improve soil health, increase crop yields and food security, while reducing input costs. In South Africa, a country with low rainfall, limited agricultural lands and a large smallholder farming community, implementing CA is imperative. To investigate the research status of CA in South Africa, a systematic review of available literature was conducted. Conservation agriculture initiatives as captured in the form of peer-reviewed publications, reports, dissertations, proceedings and projects were collected. Relevant data, such as location, type of research, CA treatments implemented, duration of interventions, main results, limitations and challenges were recorded. Most literature were in the form of peer-reviewed publications (45%). The CA interventions mostly occurred as researcher-managed field trials (60%), followed by farmer-led trials. While the interventions were fairly scattered throughout the country, there was a poor correlation between major crop-producing areas and research focus. Conservation agriculture interventions generally had a positive effect on soil properties and crop yield. Important limitations include poor reporting, short trial periods and insufficient data collection. Local research involving farmers is needed to support best-management practices for different agro-ecological zones.

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