Farming, soil and water

Does conservation agriculture change the physical properties of soil, and how does this affect food and water security?

Lead Researcher: Prof Murray Lark

Conservation agriculture (CA) is a set of practices which have been proposed to improve the resilience and sustainability of crop production, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) where food security is endangered by the increasing frequency and intensity of drought seasons under climate change.  In CA the structure of the soil is not disturbed by cultivation, and crop residues and other biomass are retained on the soil surface to protect it against erosive rainfall and to enhance its carbon status.  CA also relies on crop management (rotations and intercrops) to manage pests and diseases.

However, our understanding of CA systems in Africa is limited, and there are particular gaps in our knowledge about the impacts of CA practices on soil physical properties and so on the water cycle as a whole. The CEPHaS project is focussed on the development of research capacity in relevant branches of physical environmental science for the better understanding of CA practices.  This is being done with a network of partners in Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the UK. 

This project is funded by GCRF.  


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