Declining soil fertility and a changing climate requires sustainable cropping systems that improve productivity and profitability while adapting to climate variability without negative environmental side effects. Since 2011, agricultural researchers in eastern Zambia have focused on the use of conservation agriculture (CA) systems and associated practices that improve soil fertility and strengthen farmers’ adaptive capacity against drought and heat stress.
CA is a cropping system based on the principles of a) minimum soil disturbance; b) crop residue retention and c) crop diversification. The combined use of these three principles distinguish it from other crop management systems such as Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM), soil and water conservation or agroforestry. However, in mixed crop-livestock systems the three CA principles are not enough. Complimentary practices such as appropriate fertilization, weed control, integration of green manures and agro….