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Conservation Agriculture Improving Soil Quality for Sustainable Production Systems under Smallholder Farming Conditions in North West India: A Review

R K Naresh1, S P Singh2, Ashish Dwivedi1, Naval Kishor Sepat3, Vineet Kumar1, Lalit Kumar Ronaliya1, Vikas Kumar4, and Rachna Singh1
1. Department of Agronomy, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel University of Agriculture & Technology, meerut-250110 (U.P.)
2. Department of Soil Science, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel University of Agriculture & Technology,meerut-250110 (U.P.)
3. Directorate of ER & IPR DRDO Bhawan,Rajaji Marg New Delhi 110011
4. Krishi Vigyan Kendra Jhansi,Chandra Shakhar Azad University of Agriculture & Technology, Kanpur (U.P.)
Abstract—India is a country of about one billion people. More than 70% of India's population lives in rural areas where the main occupation is agriculture. Indian agriculture is characterized by small farm holdings. The average farm size is only 1.57 hectares. Around 93% of farmers have land holdings smaller than 4 ha and they cultivate nearly 55% of the arable land. On the other hand, only 1.6 of the farmers have operational land holdings above 10 ha and they utilize 17.4% of the total cultivated land. The pace of conservation agriculture and its resultant economic gain in turns depend on the environment influenced by economic, social, ecological and other such factors. However, the land is an inelastic factor of production. Therefore, Conservation Agriculture (CA) becomes a distinct though integrated organ of overall agriculture production, because of its feature of allocation of inelastic factors of production amongst competing crop choices. The conversion of conventional to zero tillage can result in the loss of total pore space as indicated by an increase in bulk density. Infiltration is generally higher and runoff reduced in zero tillage with residue retention compared to conventional tillage and zero tillage with residue removal. Soil water retention in the top 20 cm of the soil profile was higher in CA than in Farmers Plots (FP). The combination of reduced tillage with crop residue retention increases the SOC in the topsoil. The needed yield increases, production stability, reduced risks and environmental sustainability can only be achieved through management practices that result in an increased soil quality. This paper presents results of a study investigating possible changes in soil physical and chemical properties under CA, an adapted form of CA that is appropriate for smallholder farming conditions in North Western India. 

Index Terms—conservation agriculture, sustainability, smallholder farming system, agro-ecosystem

Cite: R K Naresh, S P Singh, Ashish Dwivedi, Naval Kishor Sepat, Vineet Kumar, Lalit Kumar Ronaliya, Vikas Kumar, and Rachna Singh, "Conservation Agriculture Improving Soil Quality for Sustainable Production Systems under Smallholder Farming Conditions in North West India: A Review," International Journal of Life Sciences Biotechnology and Pharma Research, Vol. 2, No. 4, pp. 151-213, October 2013.
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