Conservation agriculture (CA) aims to achieve sustainable and profitable agriculture through the application of the three CA principles:
continuous minimum mechanical soil disturbance;
permanent organic soil cover; and
diversification of crop species grown in sequences and/or associations.
Conservation farming holds tremendous potential for all sizes of farms, but the most important limitation is the initial lack of knowledge when a producer decides to switch from plough-based farming to CA. A particularly important gap is often the lack of information on more diverse locally adapted crops and cover crops. These kind of information played an important role in no-till adoption in the Western Cape.
ARC-SGI focus currently on the effect of different crop sequences on the growth, yield and quality of wheat in a no-till system. A crop matrix trial design is used to evaluate the rotational effect of several crops under similar weather and soil conditions. If crop sequences can be proven effective at research level, clear guidelines and recommendations can be developed to help wheat producers in implementing conservation agriculture more successfully in the Eastern Free State.