Review

A history of Conservation Agriculture in South Africa


Abstract

Conservation Agriculture (CA) is a holistic farming system aimed at the conservation of natural resources by halting soil erosion and increasing biodiversity in cropping systems, while still effecting sustainable production. Conservation agriculture is based on three principles, namely minimum soil disturbance, diversity through crop rotation and permanent organic soil cover. The system has shown remarkable growth over the last few decades worldwide, as well as in South Africa. As there are numerous benefits, CA is viewed by many as the more sustainable alternative to conventional agricultural practice. A pragmatic approach, however, should be taken to combat the challenges associated with CA. This paper provides a brief explanation of the basic principles of CA, provides a brief history of the implementation of conservation agriculture in South Africa and provides a discussion of the benefits and challenges associated with the approach. This paper also serves as an introduction to a Special Issue on conservation agriculture in South Africa.

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