FCIA Fine Chocolate Glossary

Conservation Agriculture

Most organizations such as the WFP and FAO define Conservation Agriculture with these 3 or 4 points:

  • Minimal Soil Disturbance; planting in Conservation agriculture is accomplished in planting stations instead of plowing the ground. Plowing breaks up natural soil structure and promotes erosion, destroys soil life, and allows low infiltration of water.
  • A Permanent Soil cover of mulch; year-round ground cover as in nature. Holds moisture, prevents erosion and evaporation, and feeds the soil.
  • Plant and crop diversification; cover crop and crop rotation are the primary examples. Alternating crops with nitrogen-fixing, carbon-building cover crops such as legumes replenish the soil nutrients and protects the soil in the off-season.
  • High Management; farmers are watching their fields all year long for pests, mulch cover, etc.
Minimal soil disturbance; photo courtesy of Michael Cooley

Mulch; photo courtesy of Michael Cooley

Cover crop and crop rotation; photo courtesy of Michael Cooley

Children in Sierra Leone enjoying corn grown in the off-season by utilizing Conservation Agricultural methods. No other crops were grown in the entire town of Daru during this time because of lack of rain. Conservation Agriculture greatly improves crop resilience to drought; photo courtesy of Michael Cooley

Próximamente versión en español

Entry added: April 25, 2023
Verified on: September 14, 2023

Authored by

Michael Cooley, Director of Agriculture/Technical Director
Multinational professional


Conservation Agriculture,” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2022 (Accessed on April 17, 2023)

Changing Lives for Smallholder Farmers: Beyond the Annual Performance Report 2018 Series,” World Food Programme, November 2019

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