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date: 18 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Conventional tillage agriculture has a built-in propensity for soil erosion and land degradation leading to loss of ecosystem services that are required to sustain agricultural production as well as minimize off-farm impacts. It is associated with suboptimal crop and land productivity. The global uptake of Conservation Agriculture (CA), which is a recognized flagship alternative crop production approach, is built upon three practical interlinked principles of: no or minimum mechanical soil disturbance (‘no-till’), soil cover management, and diversified cropping. The current spread of CA globally is 180 M ha of annual cropland (12.5 per cent), increasing annually at 10 M ha. Knowledge of how CA positively affects ecosystem services at the field and landscape level, with emphasis on water-related services and food security, shows that CA has the potential to meet, or exceed, most of the current shortfall in projected global agricultural water demand by 2050.

Keywords: conservation agriculture, no-till, ecosystem services, food security, climate change

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