Conservation agriculture in the dry Mediterranean climate


The objective of this article is to review: (a) the concepts and principles that underpin Conservation Agriculture (CA) ecologically and operationally; (b) the potential benefits that can be harnessed through CA systems in the dry Mediterranean climates; (c) current status of adoption and spread of CA in the dry Mediterranean climate countries; and (d) opportunities for CA in the Central and West Asia and North Africa (CWANA) region. CA, comprising minimum mechanical soil disturbance and no-tillage seeding, organic mulch cover, and crop diversification is now practised on some 125 million ha, corresponding to about 9% of the global arable cropped land. Globally, the area under CA is spread across all continents and all agro-ecologies, including the dryland climates in the Mediterranean basin region as well as in the Mediterranean climates elsewhere in the world. Worldwide empirical and scientific evidence is available to show that significant productivity, economic, social and environmental benefits exist that can be harnessed through the adoption of CA principles for sustainable production intensification in the dry Mediterranean climates, including those in the CWANA region. The benefits include: fundamental change for the better in the sustainability of production systems and ecosystem services; higher stable yields and incomes; climate change adaptation and reduced vulnerability to the highly erratic rainfall distribution; and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. CA has taken off globally and is now spreading in several Mediterranean climates outside the Mediterranean basin particularly in South America, South Africa and Australia. In the dry Mediterranean climates in the CWANA region, CA is perceived to be a powerful tool of land management but CA has not yet taken off. Research on CA in the CWANA region has shown that there are opportunities for CA adoption in rainfed and irrigated farming systems involving arable and perennial crops as well as livestock

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