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LIST OF TABLES
LIST OF FIGURESi
LIST OF MAPS
LIST OF DIAGRAMS
LIST OF PLATES
ABBREVIATION AND ACRONOMYS
1.2 Concept of Conservation Agriculture Practice
1.2.1 Continuous minimum mechanical soil disturbance
1.2.3 Diversified crop rotation
1.3 Adoption Status of Conservation Agriculture Practice
1.3.1 Worldwide adoption scenario of conservation agriculture practice
1.3.2 Adoption scenario of conservation agriculture practice in Bangladesh
1.4 Conservation Agriculture Practice and its Benefits
1.4.1 Benefits of conservation agriculture practice associated with crop profitability
1.4.2 Environmental benefits of conservation agriculture practice
1.4.3 Consequences of conservation agriculture practice on farmers' livelihood status
1.4.4 Conservation agriculture practice in collaboration with organic farming
188.8.131.52 Organic farming and crop yield
184.108.40.206 Organic farming and the environment
220.127.116.11 Organic farming and farmers' livelihood
1.5 Rationale of the Research
1.6 Objectives of the Research
1.7 Hypotheses of the Research
1.8 Congregation of the Thesis
2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE
2.2 Literature Related to Adoption and Dimension of Conservation Agriculture Practice
2.3 Literature Related to Crop Profitability under Conservation Agriculture Practice
2.4 Literature Related to Environmental Benefits of Conservation Agriculture Practice
2.5 Literature Related to Livelihood Condition of the Farmers Practicing Conservation Agriculture
2.6 Other Literatures Related to Conservation Agriculture Practice
2.7 Concluding Remarks
3 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.2 Research Design
3.3 Selection of the Research Areas
3.4 Selection of Sample and Sampling Techniques
3.5 Intervention under the Research
3.6 Procedure of Data Collection
3.6.1 Preparation of questionnaire
3.6.2 Periods of data collection
3.6.3 Data sources and acquisition methods
18.104.22.168 Collection of primary data
22.214.171.124 Collection of secondary data
3.7 Processing and Tabulation of Data
3.8 Data Analysis
3.8.1 Socioeconomic characteristics of the farmers and dimension of adopting conservation agriculture practice by the farmers
3.8.2 Crop profitability and economic benefits under conservation agriculture practice
126.96.36.199 Profitability analysis of crop production
188.8.131.52 The Enyedi's index of crop productivity measurement
184.108.40.206 Percentage perception index (PPI)
3.8.3 Determinants of adopting conservation agriculture practice
3.8.4 Impact of adopting conservation agricultural practice on livelihood enhancement of the farming community
220.127.116.11 Difference-in-difference (DID) method
18.104.22.168 Multidimensional poverty index (MPI)
3.8.5 Problems and possible opportunities of conservation agriculture practice
22.214.171.124 Problem confrontation index (PCI)
3.9 Concluding Remarks
4 DESCRIPTION OF THE RESEARCH AREAS
4.2 Location of the Research Areas
4.2.1 Portrayal of Sadar upazila ofjamalpur district
126.96.36.199 Basic informationaboutjamalpurdistrict
188.8.131.52 Particulars and facts ofjamalpur Sadar upazila
4.2.2 Portrayal of Shajahanpur upazila of Bogra district
184.108.40.206 Basic information about Bogra district
220.127.116.11 Particulars and facts of Shajahanpur upazila
4.3 Concluding Annotations
5 FARMERS' SOCIOECONOMIC PROFILE AND DIMENSION OF ADOPTING CONSERVATION AGRICULTURE PRACTICE
5.2 Socioeconomic Characteristics of the Farmers
5.2.1 Sex distribution
5.2.2 Age distribution of the family members
5.2.3 Household size and dependency ratio
5.2.4 Land holding status
5.2.5 Educational status
5.2.6 Occupational status
5.2.7 Farmers' engagement in crop farming
18.104.22.168 Farming types in the research areas
22.214.171.124 Crops produced in the research areas
5.3 Dimension of Adopting Conservation Agriculture Practice by the Farmers
5.3.1 Extent of farmers' knowledge about conservation agriculture practice
5.3.2 Sources of farmers' knowledge and purposes of training provided
5.3.3 Nature of adopting conservation agriculture practice
5.3.4 Diffusion of innovations
126.96.36.199 Adopter categories
5.4 Concluding Clarification
6 IMPACT OF CONSERVATION AGRICULTURE PRACTICE ON CROP PROFITABILITYAND ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY
6.2 Profitability Analysis of Crop Farming
6.2.1 Types of fertilizers and pesticides used in crop production
6.2.2 Production cost estimation for command area
188.8.131.52 Estimation of variable cost
184.108.40.206 Estimation of fixed cost
220.127.116.11 Estimation of total cost
6.2.3 Production cost estimation for average farm size
6.2.4 Return estimation from crop production for command area
18.104.22.168 Gross return
22.214.171.124 Gross margin
126.96.36.199 Net return
188.8.131.52 Benefit cost ratio (BCR)
6.2.5 Return estimation from crop production for average farm size
6.2.6 Estimation of profitability per unit for command area
6.3 Assessment of Crop Productivity
6.4 Impact of Practicing Conservation Agriculture on Environmental Quality
6.5 Concluding Comments
7 DETERMINANTS OF ADOPTING CONSERVATION AGRICULTURE PRACTICE UNDER DIFFERENT SOCIOECONOMIC CONDITIONS
7.2 Specification of the Model
7.3 Determinants of Adopting Conservation Agriculture by the Farmers
7.4 Empirical Results of Factors Influencing Adoption of Conservation Agriculture Practice
7.4.1 Interpretation of logit model along with regression coefficients
7.4.2 Interpretation of logit model according to marginal effects
7.5 Concluding Observations
8 NATURE AND EXTENT OF FARMERS' LIVELIHOOD ENHANCEMENT THROUGH ADOPTING CONSERVATION AGRICULTURE
8.2 Impact of Conservation Agriculture Practice on Farmers' Income-Expenditure Scenario
8.2.1 Time utilization pattern of the farmers
8.2.2 Average annual income of the farmers
8.2.3 Average annual expenditure of the farmers
8.3 Assessment of Conservation Agriculture Practice's Impact on Farmers' Income and Expenditure
8.4 Livelihood Enhancement of Farming Community through Adopting Conservation Agriculture
8.4.1 Composition of multidimensional poverty index (MPI)
8.4.2 Insight from multidimensional poverty index (MPI)
8.5 Concluding Remarks
9 PROBLEMS AND POSSIBLE OPPORTUNITIES OF CONSERVATION AGRICULTURE PRACTICE
9.2 Problems Faced by the Farmers Practicing Conservation Agriculture
9.2.1 Problem confrontation index (PCI)
9.2.2 Limitations associated with practicing conservation agriculture
9.2.3 Intimidations associated with practicing conservation agriculture
9.3 Opportunities of Conservation Agriculture Practice
9.3.1 Efficacies of adopting conservation agriculture
9.3.2 Prospects of adopting conservation agriculture
9.4 Concluding Notes
10 SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND POLICY RECOMMENDATION
10.2 Summary of the Research Findings
10.2.1 Research objectives and research hypotheses
10.2.2 Research areas and sample size
10.2.3 Collection and analysis of data
10.2.4 Socioeconomic characteristics of the farmers
10.2.5 Dimension of adopting conservation agriculture by the farmers
10.2.6 Crop profitability and productivity under conservation agriculture practice
10.2.7 Conservation agriculture practice and its impact on environmental quality
10.2.8 Factors affecting adoption of conservation agriculture practice
10.2.9 Impact of adopting conservation agriculture on farmers' livelihood enhancement
10.2.10 Problems faced by the farmers in practicing conservation agriculture
10.2.11 Opportunities of practicing conservation agriculture
10.3 Conclusion from the Research Findings
10.4 Recommendations for Additional Research and Policy Connotation
10.5 Limitations of the Research
The research was conducted to evaluate the impact of practicing conservation agriculture on farmers' livelihood enhancement in two districts of Bangladesh. A total of 120 farmers (20 from focal and 100 from control group) were surveyed from Jamalpur and Bogra districts for collecting necessary data and information. An amalgam of descriptive statistics, mathematical and statistical analyses was used to analyze the data. It was seen that 80.0 and 39.0 percent focal and control farmers, respectively had basic knowledge about conservation agriculture. Majority of the farmers (35.0 percent) were within the late majority group in terms of adopting this farming practice. The benefit cost ratio (BCR) of focal and control farmers in wheat and bean production were increased to 2.67 and 2.20, and 2.77 and 2.57 from 2.16 and 2.06, and 2.30 and 2.38, respectively after practicing conservation agriculture which indicated an increase in net return from crop farming. According to Enyedi's crop productivity index, crop productivity of focal farmers in response to the entire region was moderately lower compared to control farmers, but it was expected to increase in the next years of crop production if practicing conservation agriculture would be continued. It was evident from percentage perception index (PPI) that most of the focal farmers (65.0 percent) experienced improved environmental condition after adopting conservation agriculture but in case of control farmers, this context was not in favour of them. The estimates of logistic regression model showed that five (05) out of eight (08) explanatory variables included in the model were found significant in explaining the variation in adopting conservation agriculture practice by the farmers which were educational level of household head, farm size, farm income, extension contact and farming experience of the farmers. Average annual income of focal and control farmers was increased by 9.6 and 6.0 percent, respectively after adopting conservation agriculture. The estimated results of difference-in-difference (DID) analysis showed that average annual farm income, non-farm income, total income and total expenditure were Tk. 2466, Tk. 1793, Tk. 4259 and Tk. 393, respectively, where most of the values were statistically significant that indicated a significant impact of conservation agriculture practice on farmers' average annual income and expenditure. From multidimensional poverty index (MPI), it was reflected that 24.6 and 45.8 percent focal and control farmers, respectively were deprived of all the index indicators of a single dimension or at a combination of the indicators across dimensions. On the contrary, 75.4 and 54.2 percent focal and control farmers, respectively were privileged of the indicators which implies a better livelihood condition of the focal farmers for practicing conservation agriculture. The major problems faced by the farmers included lack of good quality inputs, high price of inputs, lack of knowledge on conservation agriculture practice, less production due to minimum tillage, lack of extension service, etc. Considering the research findings, some crucial policy recommendations have been arisen which are: input support and extension services should be properly implemented, and initiative for scientific and technical training programmes should be arranged by different government and non-government organizations to enrich the knowledge of the farmers on conservation agriculture practice.
At first the author's admiration goes to the supreme creator and monarch of the universe, almighty God, for HIS great leniency to create and keep the author alive to complete this thesis successfullyfor the Degree of Master of Science (MS) in Agricultural Economics.
This research has grown out precious contributions made by many individuals although it is not possible to mention the names of all individuals who contributed in materializing the research, however, it would be an act of ungratefulness if contributions of some individuals were not acknowledged.
The author feels proud to convey his sincere and deepest sense of gratitude to his respected teacher and supervisor, Dr. Md. Taj Uddin, Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh, for accepting him as his research student. The author remains enormously grateful to him for his indefatigable efforts, keen interest, inspiration, constant encouragement, conscientious guidance, support and invaluable suggestions, constructive criticism and provisions of facilities and supports throughout the course of this research 'work, 'without 'which it 'was not possible to complete the thesis.
The author would like to express his sincere appreciation, thankfulness and unfathomable indebtedness to his reverend teacher and co-supervisor, Dr. Sadika Haque, Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU), Mymensingh, for her kind cooperation, excellent counsel, affection, helpful comments, valuable suggestions and encouragement throughout this research 'work.
The author feels proud to express his heartfelt gratitude to his honourable teachers Professor Dr. M. A. Sattar Mandal, Professor Dr. Rezaul Karim Talukdar, Professor Atiar Rahman Molla, Professor Md. Tofazzal Hossain Miah, Professor Dr. M. Serajul Islam, Professor Dr. W. M. H. Jaim,, Professor Dr. Md. Akteruzzaman, Professor Dr. M. Harun-Ar Rashid, Professor Dr. M. Saidur Rahman, Professor Dr. Fakir Ajmal Huda, Professor Dr. Ismat Ara Begum, Professor Dr. Humayun Kabir, Associate Professor Dr. Hasneen Jahan, Associate Professor A. H. M. Saiful Islam, Assistant Professor Dr. Ms. Shamima Akhter, Assistant Professor A. N. M. Zakir Hossain, Assistant Professor Rifat Ara Zannat Tama, Eecturer Md. Nahid Sattar, Lecturer Mahmuda Nasrin, Lecturer A. K. M. Abdullah Al-Amin, Lecturer Md. Monirul Islam, Department of Agricultural Economics, Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh for their advice and sincere appreciation in the completion ofthe study.
Special thanks are due to all the officials and employees of the faculty of Agricultural Economics and Rural sociologyfor their help and assistance at different occasions during the study period in thisfaculty.
The author would like to express his deep appreciation to the Ministry of Education, Government ofthe People's Republic of Bangladesh, for providing financial support to carry out the research ’work successfully in line 'with the project entitled 'Enhancing Livelihood of Farming Community throughAdoption ofConservation Agriculture:A Socioeconomic Study'.
Earnest gratitude and thanks are extended to Professor Dr. Md. Hammadur Rahman, Department of Agricultural Extension Education, Lecturer Arifa Jannat, Institute of Agribusiness and Development Studies (IADS), Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh and Professor Dr. Jasim Uddin Ahmed, Department of Agricultural Economics and Policy, Sylhet Agricultural University, Sylhetfor their inspiration, instructions and advices to accomplish the research 'work.
The author's immense thanks go to the people as well as the representatives from local nongovernment organizations of the research areas who gave him wonderful support by their valuable time and information.
The author feels much pleasure to acknowledge the liberal help and cooperation of his friends Apurba Goswami, Anika Tahsin Mou, Rubaiya Islam Eva, Sazzadur Rahman Sarker, Md. Suzauddoula Sarker and Md. Sazedul Hoque for their friendly help, co-operation, accompany and motivation throughout the research period.
Finally, the author expresses insightful regards to his mother and he has no appropriate word to offer thanks and to express his heartfelt appreciation for the greatest support she provided to him. The author has taken help from several books, websites and published documents to write this thesis and grateful to the respective authors and publishers.
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3.1 Map of Bangladesh indicating the selected research areas
4.1 Map of Jamalpur district
4.2 Map of Bogra district
1.1 Conceptual framework of conservation agriculture
1.2 Component composition of organic farming
3.1 The research design
5.1 Simplified model of innovation-decision process
4.1 Research crop of Jamalpur district (i.e., wheat)
4.2 Research crop of Bogra district (i.e., bean)
5.1 Crop field with minimum tillage operation
5.2 Crop field with retention of crop residue
6.1 Command area in Jamalpur for wheat crop
6.2 Command area in Bogra for bean crop
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Bangladesh is a role model for the United Nations to be showcased for its excellent development performance to developing nations. Agriculture is the heart of Bangladesh economy where more than 80% farmers are smallholder having land less than 1.0 hectare. The rural economy constitutes a significant component of the national GDP with agriculture (including crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry) accounting for 17.2% (BBS, 2014). In order to feed the increasing population of Bangladesh, 'Green Revolution' has emerged in 1960s and priority was given to produce more food through intensification of land usage (Akteruzzaman et al., 2012). As a result, immediate objectives of more crop production have been achieved and crop production has been increased by manifolds. For a shorter period, Bangladesh has attained self sufficiency in food production. But long term use of chemical fertilizer and pesticides in conjunction with monoculture of cereal crops without any organic fertilizer result in lack of organic matter content that causes a lot of problems to the soil health. As a result, soil fertility and productivity is decreasing day by day (Kafiluddin and Islam, 2008). Since the average cropping intensity is 185% in Bangladesh (BBS, 2014), most farms manage about two (02) crops per year which are mainly rice or vegetables. Soil is interconnected with other natural resources such as air, water, fauna and flora. If the soil is well managed, the effects of agriculture on the environment will be acceptable and vice versa. In this context, introduction of resource conserving agriculture, i.e., conservation agriculture is becoming increasingly important in overcoming the problems of declining agricultural productivity in Bangladesh.
Conservation agriculture practice is a widely used terminology which refers to soil management systems that result in at least 30% of the soil surface being covered with crop residues after seeding of the subsequent crop; aiming to produce high crop yields while reducing production costs, maintaining the soil fertility and conserving water. It is not a single component technology but a system that includes the cumulative effect of three basic components; minimum soil disturbance, permanent soil cover and crop rotation in order to preserve soil health and productivity. It is receiving an increasing attention as a sustainable alternative to contribute to ensure food security, maximize livelihood enhancement and minimize environmental degradation. Conservation agriculture practices are not easy to apply, but farmers can increase their productivity benefits through labour cost saving, reduction of production cost and improvement of soil fertility.
The increased ability of conservation agriculture practice to hold water generally leads to crop yield increase. It improves extractable phosphorus, total nitrogen content and organic carbon content of the soil. Since one of the contributions of this farming system is to save labour, farmers can use the time they have saved to expand the area they cultivate or even to start other enterprises that earn more money. It increases soil moisture and restores soil fertility, so stabilizing yields and improving production over the long term (Zerihun et al., 2014).
Practicing conservation agriculture is the integration of ecological management with modem, scientific and agricultural production. It employs all modern technologies to enhance the quality and ecological integrity of the soil through the tempered application of these with traditional knowledge of soil preparation gained from generations of successful farmers. These holistic embraces of knowledge as well as the capacity of farmers to apply this knowledge, innovate and adjust to evolving conditions ensure the sustainability of those who practice conservation agriculture. A major strength of such practice is the step like implementation by farmers of complementary, synergetic soil preparation practices that build a robust, cheaper, more productive and environmentally affable farming system. These systems are more sustainable than conventional agriculture because of the focus of producing with healthy soils (Hossain, 2013).
The approach of conservation agriculture practice is to manage agro-ecosystems for improved and sustained productivity, increased profits and food security while preserving and enhancing the resource base and the environment. It can be defined as a concept for resource-saving agricultural crop production that strives to achieve acceptable profits together with high and sustained production levels while concurrently conserving the environment. It is based on enhancing natural biological processes above and below the ground. Interventions such as mechanical soil tillage are reduced to an absolute minimum and the use of external inputs such as agrochemicals and nutrients of mineral or organic origin are applied to an optimum level and in a way and quantity that does not interfere with the biological processes (FAO, 2007). There are three key principles that farmers can proceed through in the process of practicing conservation agriculture. These three principles outline what conservationists and farmers believe can be done to conserve what to use for a longer period of time. The principles are as follows:
- Continuous minimum mechanical soil disturbance;
- Permanent organic soil cover; and
- Diversified crop rotations in the case of annual crops or plant associations in case of perennial crops.
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Diagram 1.1: Conceptual framework of conservation agriculture
The first key principle of conservation agriculture practice is to follow minimum mechanical soil disturbance which is essential for maintaining minerals within the soil, stopping erosion and preventing water loss from the soil. It refers to low disturbance, minimum tillage and direct seeding. The disturbed area must be less than 15 cm wide or less than 25% of the cropped area (Hossain, 2013). Tillage operation destroys organic matter that can be provided within the soil cover. Minimum-till farming has caught on as a process that can save soil organic level for a longer period and allows the soil to be productive for a longer period (FAO, 2007).
Practicing minimum tillage can make a reduction in the production cost for a certain crop. Tillage of the ground requires more money due to fuel for tractors or feed for the animals pulling the plough. Less tillage of the soil can reduce labour, fuel, irrigation and machinery and increase yield because of higher water infiltration, storage capacity and less erosion. Another benefit is that because of the higher water content, instead of leaving a field fallow, it can make economic sense to plant another crop instead. Minimum-till farming can increase organic matter in the soil which is a form of carbon sequestration. By reducing tillage, decomposing crop residues where they lie and by growing winter cover crops, carbon loss can be slowed and reversed eventually. In addition, it reduces emission of nitrous oxide (N2O), a potent greenhouse gas. By minimum-tilling, the water evaporated from the soil for tilling practice, stays in the soil as before (Layton et at., 1993; Campbell et at., 1996; and Bayer et al., 2000).
Occasionally, cover crops are used in minimum-till farming to control weeds and increase nutrients in the soil. With minimum tillage, residue from the previous season's crop lies on the surface of the field for cooling it and increase the moisture. This can cause variations of diseases that occur, but not necessarily at a higher or lower rate than conventional tillage. A problem that occurs in some vegetable fields is water saturation in soils. Switching to minimum tillage will help the drainage issue because the soil quality under continuous minimum tillage includes a higher water infiltration rate (Scott and Farquharson, 2004).
The second key principle of conservation agriculture practice is to create a permanent organic soil cover which is synonymous to retention of crop residue (mulch). Crop residue is the leftover of the crop after the valuable part has been harvested. Residue retention is considered to be crop relic left in the field, rather than crop relic brought in from elsewhere and added to the soil. Three categories of permanent organic soil cover are distinguished: 30-60%, 60-90% and above 90% ground cover, measured immediately after the direct seeding operation. Area with less than 30% cover is not considered as conservation agriculture (Farooq et al., 2011; and Freidrich et al., 2012).
Crop residue can allow growth of organisms within the soil structure which will break down the residue left on the soil surface and produce a high organic matter level that will act as a fertilizer. If the practice of conservation agricultureis being done for many years and enough organic matter is being built up at the surface, a layer of mulch will start to form. This layer helps to prevent soil erosion from taking place and ruining the soil layout. When soils are covered under a layer of mulch, the ground is protected from direct effect of rainfall. This type of ground cover also helps to keep the temperature and moisture levels of the soil higher. Externally applied mulch in the form of composts and manures can also be applied, although the economics of transport of this bulky material to the field may restrict its use to high value crops (FAO, 2007; and Hobbs et al., 2007).
Crop residues of cultivated crops are a significant factor for crop production through their effects on soil physical, chemical and biological functions as well as water and soil quality. The surface residue protects the soil from wind erosion (Kumar and Goh, 2000; and Roldan et al., 2003). Crop residue helps to reduce surface soil crusting, run-off and water losses from the soil by evaporation; and increase water infiltration, moderate soil temperature and gives higher yield than tilled soils. It also promotes biological activity and enhances nitrogen mineralization, especially in the surface (Diekow et al., 2005; and Thierfelder et al., 2005).
A cover crop and the previous crop residue help in reducing weed infestation. Weeds will be controlled when the cover crop is cut, rolled flat or killed. Cover crops also contribute to the accumulation of organic matter in the surface soil horizon by providing food, nutrients and energy for earthworms, arthropods and microorganisms. Using deep-rooted cover crops and biological agents (such as, earthworms) can also help to relieve compaction under minimum-tillage cropping system (Madari et al., 2005).
The third principle of conservation agriculture is diversified crop rotations in the case of annual crops or plant associations in case of perennial crops. Crop rotation affects the most when combined with manuring, green manuring, composting, cover cropping, etc. Together, these practices improve soil quality such as increased soil aggregate stability; increased granular structure and friable consistence; and decreased crusting of soil surfaces. Rotations also help to decrease bulk soil density, which can greatly impede root growth and nutrient flow. A traditional element of crop rotation is the replenishment of nitrogen through the use of green manure in sequence with cereals and other crops. Crop rotation mitigates the build-up of pathogens and pests that often occurs when one species is continuously cropped. It can also improve the soil structure and fertility by alternating deep-rooted and shallow-rooted plants. It is one of the components of polyculture (Hobbs et at., 2007; and Silici, 2010).
Crop rotation can be used best as a disease control against other preferred crops. This process will not allow insects and weeds to be set into a rotation with specific crops. Rotational crops will act as a natural insecticide and herbicide against specific crops. Not allowing insects or weeds to establish a pattern within fields will help to eliminate problems with yield reduction and infestations within fields (FAO, 2007). Establishing crops in a rotation allows better water infiltration. The rotation of different crops combined with minimum soil disturbance promotes a more extensive network of root channels and macro-pores in the soil. This helps in water infiltration to deeper depths. Crop rotation increases microbial diversity and hence reduces the risk of pests and disease (Howard, 1996; and Leake, 2003).
Crop rotation can greatly affect the amount of soil lost from erosion by water. In areas that are highly susceptible to erosion, farm management practices such as zero and minimum tillage can be supplemented with specific crop rotation methods to reduce raindrop impact, sediment detachment, sediment transport, surface runoff and soil loss. Protection against soil loss is maximized with rotation methods that leave the greatest mass of crop stubble on top of the soil. Stubble cover in contact with the soil minimizes erosion from water by reducing overland flow velocity and stream power, and thus the ability of the water to detach and convey sediment. Crop rotation also affects the timing and length of cropping when a field is subject to fallow. This is very important because depending on a particular region's climate, a field could be the most vulnerable to erosion when it is under fallow. Efficient fallow management is an essential part of reducing erosion in a crop rotation system. Minimum tillage is a fundamental management practice that promotes crop stubble retention under longer unplanned fallows when crops cannot be planted. Such management practices that succeed in retaining suitable soil cover in areas under fallow will ultimately reduce soil loss.
Sometimes, yield increases by 10-25% with crop rotation compared to monoculture practice. Agronomists describe this benefit to yield in rotated crops as 'The Rotation Effect'. The factors related to the increase are simply described as alleviation of the negative factors of monoculture cropping systems. Explanations due to improved nutrition; pest, pathogen and weed stress reduction; and improved soil structure have been found in some cases to be correlated, but causation has not been determined for the majority of cropping systems. Other benefits of crop rotation system include advantages related to production cost. Overall financial risks are more widely distributed over more diverse production of crops. Less reliance is placed on purchased inputs and over time crops can maintain production goals with fewer inputs. This in tandem with greater short and long term yields makes rotation a powerful tool for improving agricultural systems (Krupnik, 2013; and Paudel et al., 2014).
Current state of affairs in adopting conservation agriculture is depicted in the manner of global adoption status and adoption stipulation in Bangladesh, as well.
Crop production system under conservation agriculture practice is experiencing increased interest in many countries around the world. The total area under this practice in 2015 is estimated to be about 156 M ha (FAO, 2015). Minimum-tillage is practiced on all farm sizes from less than half a hectare (e.g., China, Zambia, etc.) to thousands of hectares (e.g., Argentina, Brazil, Kazakhstan, etc.). It is practiced on soils that vary from 90% sand to 80% clay. It has allowed expansion of agriculture to land areas considered marginal in terms of rainfall or fertility (e.g., Australia, Argentina, etc.).
While in 1973-74 the system was used only on 2.80 M ha worldwide, the area had grown to 156 M ha in 2014-15 showing the increased interest of farmers about this production system. Since 1990, the global rate of adopting conservation agriculture has been growing exponentially mainly in South and North America, and in Australia and New Zealand. Table 1.1 represents that 42.8% of the total global area 8 under conservation agriculture practice is in South America; 32.3% in North
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Figure 1.1: Area under conservation agriculture practice by continent Source: FAO, 2015.
The adoption of the system has grown steadily especially in South America where some countries like Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay are using conservation agriculture on about 70% of the total cultivated area. In North America, the adoption level of conservation agriculture is approaching the 100% mark, but there are serious concerns about the quality of the adoption. This farming practice is not widely spread in Australia (11.9%) and Europe (6.1%) but there is a noteworthy progress in the adoption.
Though only 4.3% area in Asia is under conservation agriculture practice, a considerable expansion of the area under reduced tillage has been reported in the past 15 years, especially in Kazakhstan and China. A fast development of this practice has been observed in the last 10 years in Kazakhstan where 10% of total cropped area are with minimum tillage and crop rotation that puts Kazakhstan amongst the top ten countries in the world with the largest cropped area under this practice (Table 1.2). China too has had an equally dynamic development of this practice with having more than 5 M ha under this system where the introduction of this cropping system has made it possible to grow two successive crops (rice or maize or soya as summer crop, winter wheat or spring barley as winter crop) within the same year. In the Indo-Gangetic Plains across India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh, there is a marginal adoption of conservation agriculture. In this region, the adoption of this practice has occurred mainly in the wheat portion of the wheatrice double cropping system. The area under this practice is increasing in all parts of Asia and large areas of agricultural land are expected to switch to this system in the coming decade.
Conservation agriculture practice is also gaining attention in Africa. In the North Africa region, yields and factor productivities are improved with the adoption of this practice. It is now beginning to spread to Sub-Saharan Africa region, particularly in Eastern and Southern Africa. Gaining scientific knowledge on equipment design from Latin America, farmers in at least 14 African countries are now using this system with collaboration from China, Bangladesh and Australia. In the specific context of Africa with resource-poor farmers, this system is relevant for addressing the challenges of climate change, high energy costs, environmental degradation and labour shortages. In Sub-Saharan Africa, practicing conservation agriculture is expected to increase food production while reducing negative effects on the environment and energy costs, and to result in the development of locally adapted technologies consistent with the principles of this farming practice (FAO, 2015).
Table 1.2: Adoption status of conservation agriculture practice (top ten countries
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Source: FAO, 2015.
In many countries, the rate of adopting conservation agriculture is still low due to the high percentage of small scale farmers, but the numbers are increasing steadily as well. The wide recognition and adoption of this farming practice as a truly sustainable farming system show that it cannot any more be considered as a temporary fashion, instead the system has established itself as a technology that can no longer be ignored by politicians, scientists, universities, extension workers, farmers as well as machine manufacturers and other agriculture related industries.
Though conservation agriculture practice was introduced in the 1970s, data on coverage and its current status in Bangladesh is scarce. Possibly, research and development work on this practice was started in the name of 'Resource Conserving Technology (RCT)'. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) is the pioneer in promoting this practice and they are funding different organizations in Bangladesh. International Development Enterprise (iDE) is implementing a project for the time period of 2012 to 2016 supported by ACIAR, 'Overcoming agronomic and mechanization constraints to development and adoption of conservation agriculture in diversified rice-based cropping in Bangladesh' to demonstrate conservation agriculture technologies and practices to smallholder farmers in Rajshahi, Mymensingh, Faridpur and Dinajpur districts. An experiment was conducted in Gadagari upazila, Rajshai district to evaluate the appropriate planter and planting system and came out with a conclusion that strips tillage is the best option for rice in comparison with conventional tillage, bed planting and zero tillage (Islam et at., 2013).
Table 1.3: Organizations involved with major conservation agriculture programmes in Bangladesh
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Source: Adapted from Mondal, 2014.
In the Northwest region of Bangladesh, CIMMYT developed versatile multiple-crop planter (VMP) to mitigate drought with conservation agriculture equipment. Initial results indicated that the VMP could be used in multiple modes for crop establishment of rice, i.e., strip tillage, minimum tillage, bed formation and conventional tillage. Regardless of the form of conservation agriculture tillage treatment, about 41-43% less water was required compared to a conventional tillage system. Fuel consumption had significant variation among the treatments, with 65% less fuel required in strip tillage treatments by VMP (Islam et al., 2010). Another project funded by ACIAR, 'Sustainable and Resilient Farming Systems Intensification (SRFSI) for South Asia' for a time period of four years, focuses on farm management practices based on the principles of conservation agriculture and the efficient use of water resources to provide a foundation for increasing smallholder crop productivity and resilience. It would use institutional innovations that strengthen adaptive capacity and link farmers to markets and support services. SRFSI targets rice based research systems in eight districts across India, Nepal and Bangladesh (BSS, 2014).
'Cereal Systems Intensification in South Asia (CSISA)', a BMGF and USAID funded project implemented jointly by IRRI and CIMMYT also worked on conservation agriculture technology in Narayangonj district. The direct seeded Boro rice with mustard is an innovative conservation agriculture practice explored by the farmers. Mostly, farmers are practicing direct seeded Boro rice with mustard by broadcasting method with traditional crop management practices. Under the project, delivery programme aims to validate and fine tune the farmers' innovations before adoption and effective scaling up in wider areas (Ali et al., 2011). 'CSISA-Mechanization and Irrigation Project' is a sister initiative falling under the CSISA-Bangladesh programme, connecting CIMMYT, IRRI and WorldFish as partners in working on conservation agriculture that aims to unlock agricultural productivity in Southern Bangladesh by conducting research and market development to increase the availability and adoption of resource-conserving irrigation equipment and to scale farm machineries to respond to rural labour scarcity and high costs, while also encouraging crop management practices based on the principles of conservation agriculture. Another CSISA initiative on this practice was taken in Northern Bangladesh to evaluate the performance of machinery (Mazid et al., 2010; and Krupnik, 2013).
On-farm validation and refinement of conservation agriculture practice based management systems in Bangladesh offer scope to reduce production costs and raise profitability. To that end, experiments were conducted in Dinajpur region to evaluate the performance of dry direct-seeded rice (DSR) in the Aman season followed by line sowing wheat using single pass seeder in the winter season and then zero-tillage sowing of jute (Mondal, 2014).
Conservation agriculture is a win-win situation in favor of both farmers for crop production and the environment. The practice has pointed out a new way of thinking about agricultural production in order to understand how one could possibly attain higher yields with less labour, less water and fewer synthetic production inputs. Agriculturists have recognized its many advantages and considered it to be a viable alternative to conventional agricultural practices which have palpable negative impact on the environment. Also, community based movement on conservation agriculture may contribute to improvement of farmers' livelihood and empowerment of communities.
In economic terms, conservation agriculture practice performs better than conventional farming. Savings on inputs may help to bring benefits forward by decreasing the cost of crop production. Cover crops may reduce fertilizer, fuel and labour costs for subsequent crops. It is possible that using a leguminous cover crop in one crop season could decrease the need for nitrogen fertilizer for the subsequent crop, cutting fertilizer costs over the span of just one season. Farmers experienced a net reduction in input costs with this practice which is likely to vary by operation. Cover crops can have a positive effect on yield also. Biculture (grass and legume) cover crops can increase crop yields by an average of 21% (Miguez and Bollero, 2005). Effects on yield are very much dependent on the type of cover crop as well as factors such as weather, soil type, management, etc. In case of crop rotation, three or four years crop rotations can reduce use of nitrogen fertilizers and pesticides. With less need to apply fertilizers and pesticides, over time equipment maintenance and fuel costs may also decrease. Depending on the rotation selected, this practice may reduce input costs the most. Decreasing the number of passes needed across a field can lower labour, fuel and equipment wear-and-tear costs.
Table 1.4: Anticipated effects of conservation agriculture practice on input costs compared to conventional agriculture
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Source: Adapted from Mine et at. (2014).
Crop rotations, especially those involving three or more crops, have a positive effect on the yield of crop compared to traditional crop rotations (Boyle, 2006; and Duffy, 2012). A properly managed crop rotation is not associated with any yield decrease, but rather has the greatest potential to increase yields. Farmers may experience some moderately reduced yields in the first few years of cover crop adoption but in properly managed systems, yields can be regained by the next years (Kaspar, 2010; and Davis et at., 2012). Effect on net revenue is particularly difficult to predict but available researches suggest that the effect on crop growers' net revenues varies with the type of conservation agriculture practiced.
Environmental problems caused by agricultural practice mainly include water contamination and tillage induced CO2 losses that contribute to the greenhouse effect. Practicing conservation agriculture assists agricultural ecosystem to help moderate weather extremes, mitigate natural drought and floods, protect streams and river systems (erosion), control agricultural pests; maintain biodiversity, generate and preserve soils, renew fertility, detoxify and decompose waste, contribute to climate stability, purify water and air, and regulate disease carrying organisms (West, 2004). Conservation agriculture practice, working in harmony with nature, uses techniques that increase soil carbon that plays a critical role in the harmony of ecosystem.
Table 1.5: Purposes of the conservation agriculture practice to protect environment
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Source: NRCS, 2014.
Soil containing high amount of carbon with crop residues on the surface are very effective in increasing soil organic matter (SOM) which is valuable for soil for its role in physical, chemical and biological processes within the soil system (Uri, 1998; and Reicosky, 2001). Increased SOM contributes to soil particle aggregation that assists plants in root development. The retention of crop residue allows a buffering capacity on soil temperature and increases SOM to facilitate improved soil structure. Thus, infiltration will be increased aiding the water holding potential of the soil. Soil moisture retention in dry regions is the single most critical factor in the farming system. The soil must have the ability to absorb as much water as possible in dry regions. With high SOM, the soil will have the better hydraulic conductivity, the soil's ability to absorb water (West, 2004).
Typically, agricultural soils contain 1-4% carbon on mass basis which is regarded as relatively small. Conservation agriculture practice can play a significant role in soil carbon sequestration because they contain a large amount of soil carbon that can partially offset carbon emission from burning fossil fuels. Minimum tillage method have the potential to sequester more carbon in the soil than farming emits through land use and fossil fuel combustion; and thus, may restore soil carbon loss as a result of traditional farming practices. Increased soil carbon can lead to better soil fertility, less wind and water erosion, minimized compaction, enhanced water quality, decreased carbon emissions, impeded pesticide movement and overall enhanced environmental quality. Enhanced soil carbon management is a win-win situation as agriculture wins with improved food and fiber production and society wins with the enhanced environmental quality (Clapperton, 2003).
Cover crops provide the carbon source for soil organisms that bind the soil particles into aggregates and recycle soil nutrient; and this equates to any factor that influences the quality and amount of residue which affect the biological community in the soil. Earthworms are often considered as very favourable to increase soil aeration, water infiltration, nitrogen availability to plants and the microbial activity of the soil. They not only provide tunnels that assist to root growth and water infiltration, but it has been found that these tunnels have higher concentrations of nitrifying bacteria than the soil outside the tunnel. This will again encourage root growth in these tunnels. Earthworms feed off the decaying plant material fungi, protozoa and bacteria leaving behind sticky secretions which bind small soil particles together into larger aggregates further improving soil structure. It is found that the more diverse the soil community, the more flexible the soil. This means that the soil has the ability to grow a number of crops and is resilient to drought and low nutrient conditions (Clapperton, 2003).
The reality for many smallholder farmers is that their cropping lands have become severely depleted through generations of unsustainable farming methods including ploughing, monocropping, little or no replenishment of nutrients and burning of residues. Ultimately, such practices result in decreased yields. Conservation agriculture practice has a positive impact on farmers' livelihood having potential to turn around the daily and seasonal calendar, and change the rhythm of farmers' livelihood. For many farmers, the adoption of such practice has not been a choice but a question of survival. Farmers with draught animals can complete their farm operations without having to hire tractors for tillage work. The labour input in this system could be reduced by 75%. In the draught animal power category, it reduces the labour by 80%. Farming without ploughing can mitigate the labour shortages that affect the farmers due to rural-urban migration and the rapid spread of diseases (IFAD, 2005 and FAO, 2007).
Small farmers using manual labour and hand tools can farm more easily even if their physical strength is limited or reduced due to diseases, malnutrition or age, which is the case in many developing countries. The time saved under this farming practice allows such farmers also to dedicate more time to other more profitable non-farm occupations for generating income than growing a crop only. More time availability offers real opportunities for diversification options such as, poultry farming or on- farm sales of produce or other off-farm small enterprise developments. For women, this practice provides opportunities to engage themselves in other income generating and socioeconomic activities while also sparing more time to take care of the family. It helps to restore social dignity among households. Production of more food at the household level reduces transportation costs of food in areas with poor infrastructure and guarantees affordable access to food for both resource-poor households and their communities.
Conservation agriculture practice has the potential to stimulate livelihood status through the following possible channels:
- Reduced input requirements and costs will result in better cash flows and savings. These will in turn result in increased expenditure, stimulation of markets, and growth in local and national economy. Farmers will in turn increase spending on other family needs, e.g., pay school fees, access health services, purchase livestock and larger household goods or even build houses.
- Higher labour productivity through labour savings and better labour management.
- Engagement by communities and outsiders in trade in input and produce markets.
- Emergence of vibrant savings, credit cooperative organizations and investors.
- This practice has the potential to increase gross margins. As tractor use is reduced, substantial savings will be made on fuel needs, resulting in significant savings of hard currency used for fuel import. Reduced need to import staple crops and the possibility of producing crops for export will have positive implications for the economy together with increased employment opportunities.
Organic agriculture refers to a farming system that follows defined organic and conservative standards and regulations. Conservation agriculture practice is somehow related with organic agriculture. More specifically, it is a part of this farming practice (Dumanski et al., 2006; and Seufert, 2014). It is a holistic production management system that promotes and enhances agro-ecosystem including biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activities which encompasses not only environmentally sound management practices but also a farming system that is socially just and economically viable.
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Diagram 1.2: Component composition of organic farming
The increasing demand for organic products and the rapid growth of the organic sector led to the need to regulate organic production. UNCTAD (2008) defined organic farming as a holistic production management whose primary goal is to optimize the health and productivity of interdependent communities of soil, life, plants, animals and people. According to IFOAM (2002), organic agriculture is a farming approach based upon sustainable ecosystems, safe food, good nutrition, animal welfare and social justice which is more than a system of production that includes or excludes certain inputs. Organic agriculture in association with conservation agriculture is productive and sustainable (Letourneau and Goldstein, 2001; and Mäder et at., 2002). It is developing rapidly and today at least 141 countries produce organic food commercially in about 32.2 M ha area. About 65% of the worlds organically managed land, almost 21 M ha, is located in the developing countries like Bangladesh (Reddy, 2010; and Mondal, 2014).
Organic farming can lead to substantial yield increases in low-input farming systems in developing countries (Badgley et al., 2007; and UNEP, 2008). The reduced input requirements of organic farming could provide opportunities for yield increases in these farming systems on average by 79% while simultaneously increasing the environmental performance of agriculture. Organic agriculture might be able to increase food production by closing part of the yield gap still persistent in many developing countries if it can increase yields in low-input smallholder farming systems (Pretty and Hine, 2001; and Pretty et al., 2006).
Organic farming with resource conserving technologies can reduce pesticide use, soil erosion, emission of agricultural greenhouse gas and loss of nitrogen from the system; increase species abundance and richness, soil fertility, and use less energy (Gomiero et al., 2008; and Leifeld and Führer, 2010). One of the key goals of organic farming is to improve soil fertility by returning organic matter to the soil. Soil managed with organic methods has, therefore, typically a higher organic matter content which results in soil that can hold more water and that is less likely to suffer from erosion. Organic management methods can thus potentially provide useful ways of restoring degraded soils or preventing further degradation of soils in regions prone to land degradation (Lotter et al., 2003; and Mondelaers et al., 2009).
Organic farming can contribute substantially to farmers' food security and improve their livelihoods. The profitability of organic farming for small farmers is dependent on organic yields, the cost of organic production and the size of the organic price premium. Organic farmers often receive higher and more stable prices for their products; organic inputs are often cheaper and total production costs thus become lower (Eyhorn et al., 2007; and Bolwig et al., 2009). The net effect of organic farming on production costs thus depends on whether the typically reduced costs of inputs outweigh the typically increased costs of labour (Parrott et al., 2006; and Chongtham et al., 2010).
Organic farming can generate social capital and can be empowering to small producers. Organic farming provides the opportunity for the use of local resources and for integrating traditional knowledge, as many elements of organic management are reminiscent of traditional farming methods in developing countries. Rural areas may also be benefited from the creation of employment in labour intensive organic resource conserving agriculture (Bakewell-Stone et al., 2008; and Méndez et al., 2010). Organic farming can also facilitate the participation of women who have less access to the formal credit market and often cannot purchase agricultural inputs. In addition, organic farming can help to reduce vulnerability by lowering the economic dependence on a single crop. Farming systems following organic and resource conserving principles often provide more stable yields and are more resilient to extreme weather events when compared to conventional systems. Organic farming can also provide considerable health benefits by reducing the pesticide exposure of agricultural workers. By reducing pesticide use, organic management can provide an efficient means of reducing the health risk from pesticide exposure for agricultural workers and rural communities (Goldberger, 2008; and Thapa and Rattanasuteerakul, 2011).
Conservation agriculture practice offers a new paradigm for agricultural research and development of agriculture which is different from traditional farming. A shift in paradigm has become necessity in view of widespread problems of resource degradation, which accompanied past strategies to enhance production with little concern for resource integrity. Integrating concerns of productivity, resource conservation and quality of environment are now fundamental factors to sustained productivity growth. The aim of this cropping practice is to make better use of agricultural resources through the integrated management of available soil, water and biological resources combined with limited external inputs. It offers an opportunity for fascinating and reversing downward spiral of resource degradation, decreasing cultivation costs and making agriculture more resource-use-efficient, competitive and sustainable by maintaining a permanent or semi-permanent organic soil cover, crop rotation and minimum soil disturbance or minimum tillage. Farm level adoption of conservation agriculture is associated with lower labour and farm power inputs, more stable yields and improved soil nutrient exchange capacity. Crop profitability under this practice tends to increase over time relative to conventional agriculture. At the global level, it sequesters carbon, thereby decreasing CO2 in the atmosphere and helping to dampen climate change. It also conserves soil and terrestrial biodiversity.
Worldwide evidence has recurrently exposed that conservation agriculture could counterbalance the aspects of soil degradation and water miss-use, help producers to meet the challenge of a more efficient use of land and water, and derive higher level of income. The basic components of this farming practice are not site specific, but the most critical objectives of such practice allow extending the technology efficiently across a wide range of production conditions. Conservation agriculture is, therefore, considered an innovation process with the aim of modifying conventional crop production technologies with the use of appropriate apparatuses and contraptions.
Despite these apparent advantages and a few notable exceptions in the developing world, conservation agriculture practice has spread relatively slowly, especially in farming systems in temperate climates. The transformation from conventional agriculture practice to conservation agriculture practice seems to require considerable farm management skills and involves investment in new equipment. It may also require minimum levels of social capital to foster its expansion. In the light of this situation, the aim of this research is to identify the dimension of conservation agriculture practices adopted by the farmers in different areas of Bangladesh, and analyze financial and other conditions that spur farmers to adopt such practice under the project of 'Enhancing Livelihood of Farming Community through Adoption of Conservation Agriculture: A Socioeconomic Study' funded by the Ministry of Education (MoE), Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh. Further, the research will identify the crop profitability and environmental benefits under conservation agriculture practice in relation to conventional agriculture practice. The research will also identify the determinants of adopting conservation agriculture by the farmers under different socioeconomic conditions. Moreover, the research will address the nature and extent of livelihood enhancement of the farming community through adoption of conservation agriculture practice. Finally, the research will provide valuable information on problems faced by the farmers to practice conservation agriculture and thereby suggest the policymakers to formulate appropriate policies so that adoption of conservation agriculture becomes reasonable and smooth for improving livelihood of the farming community in Bangladesh.
Research objectives define the specific aims of the research to guide the development of the protocol, design and power of the research. The overall objective of this research is to evaluate the crop cultivation system under conservation agriculture practice and assess the impact of adopting this farming practice on livelihood condition of farming community. The specific objectives are as follows:
(i) To document the socioeconomic characteristics of the farmers and dimension of adopting conservation agriculture;
(ii) To assess the crop profitability and environmental benefits through conservation agriculture practice in relation to conventional agriculture practice;
(iii) To identify the determinants of adopting conservation agriculture by the farmers under different socioeconomic conditions;
(iv) To address the nature and extent of livelihood enhancement of the farming community through adoption of conservation agriculture practice; and
(v) To identify the problems and possible opportunities of conservation agriculture practice, and suggest policy recommendations.
A hypothesis is a supposition or explanation that is provisionally accepted in order to interpret certain events or phenomena and to provide guidance for further investigation. A hypothesis can be put to a test to determine its validity and may be proven correct or wrong. It must be capable of refutation. If it remains unrefuted by facts, it is said to be verified or corroborated. The research attempts to test the following hypotheses:
i. The profitability and productivity of crop cultivation do not differ between focal and control farmers after adopting conservation agriculture practice;
ii. Environmental quality is indifferent after the adoption of conservation agriculture practice;
iii. The factors identified have no influence on adoption of conservation agriculture by the farmers; and
iv. Conservation agriculture practice has no impact on enhancement of farmers' livelihood status.
This thesis is organized into ten (10) chapters. It starts by looking at the objectives and hypotheses of the research in chapter 1. This chapter also provides a succinct introduction of the concept of conservation agriculture practice, its adoption status in Bangladesh and abroad, economic and environmental consequences of practicing this farming as well as its impact on farmers' livelihood status. Following the introduction, chapter 2 provides a highlight of relevant literatures on different aspects of conservation agriculture practice. Chapter 3 sets out the methodological approach of the research. Chapter 4 confers an overview of the research areas in terms of geographical location, climatic condition and major agricultural and nonagricultural productive activities. The socioeconomic characteristics of the sample farmers are depicted in chapter 5. This chapter also provides an idea about the nature and extent of adopting conservation agriculture practice in the research areas. The profitability of crop farming under conservation agriculture practice and farmers' perceptions about the impact of such farming on environmental quality is estimated in chapter 6. Chapter 7 explains the empirical results of the logit regression model with marginal effect to explicate the determinants that have significant influence on the probability of adopting conservation agriculture practice by the farmers. Chapter 8 determines the consequences of practicing conservation agriculture on farmers' income generation, expenditure pattern and livelihood condition. Problems of practicing the principles of conservation agriculture and its feasible opportunities are embodied in chapter 9. The final chapter, i.e., chapter 10 addresses the summary, conclusions and policy recommendations of the research.
A literature review is a text of a scholarly paper, which includes the current knowledge including substantive findings, as well as theoretical and methodological contributions to a particular topic. It is a critical analysis of a segment of a published body of knowledge through summary, classification, and comparison of prior research studies and theoretical articles. It is an evaluative report of information found in the literature related to the selected area of research which is more than the search for information and goes beyond being a descriptive annotated bibliography. A literature review is a critical and in depth evaluation of previous research. It is a summary and synopsis of a particular area of research, allowing anybody recognizing this particular research program, and includes the identification and articulation of relationships between the literature and the field of research. The review of literature will be helpful to justify the research and outline gaps in previous research.
Akter and Gathala (2014) conducted a research on adoption of conservation agriculture technology in diversified systems and impact on productivity in three districts of Bangladesh, and indicated that where land is an extremely limiting factor, production is increased through intensive cultivation with two or more crops in a year. This research found that 82% of the operating cropland is under two or more crops. The adoption of conservation agricultural practices as a way to tackle the challenge of soil fertility depletion, had become an important issue in the development policy agenda for smallholder agriculture. Diversities existed between locations, cropping systems and seasons. Also, policies targeting conservation as a measure of sustainable agriculture must consider diversities for wider diffusion of technology.
Mine et al. (2014) studied on adoption of conservation agriculture in Iowa, Mexico and its impact on com value chain, and found that conservation agriculture is a set of sustainable farming practices that build soil health while reducing erosion and nutrient loss. This study focused on three practices: cover crop use, crop rotations and reduced tillage which can provide many soil conservation benefits. Their potential to combat erosion and nutrient loss also made them an important tool for protecting water quality. Widespread adoption of conservation agriculture could create far-reaching environmental benefits in Mexico.
Akteruzzaman et al. (2012) carried out a research on practices of conservation agricultural technologies in diverse cropping systems in Bangladesh and found that high yielding varieties (HYV) along with chemical fertilizer, pesticides and irrigation were introduced in Bangladesh in the name of 'Green Revolution' to feed the huge population of the country which resulted degradation in soil health and reduce productivity in the long run. Overall 76.5% respondents included in the study knew the benefits of using organic matter in soil. For tillage operation, draft power use was higher than other machineries in all cropping seasons. The retention of crop residues was found higher in Boro rice compared to Aman and Aus rice and other crops. Only 39.3% respondents practiced crop rotations, 30.0% respondents practiced mixed cropping and most of them experienced increased production.
Malik et al. (2004) studied on resource conservation technologies including zero-till planting of wheat, bed planting of crops, laser aided land levelling, etc. in the Indo- Gangetic Plains. Evolution and accelerated adoption of zero tillage was a significant step paving way for more comprehensive conservation agriculture system involving retention of crop residues on soil surface and appropriate crop rotations. The wide spread adoption of new technologies was attributed to benefit the farmers in terms of reduced production costs, enhanced productivity and improved inputs use efficiency. Retaining and managing adequate amount of crop residue on soil surface would be a key to reversing processes of degradation and enhancing resource quality.
Roy et al. (2004) focused on the status of conservation tillage for small farming of Bangladesh and indicated that research and development work on conservation tillage in Bangladesh had started with power tiller operated seeder imported from China, for sowing wheat without tilling soil immediately after harvesting the Aman rice for reducing the turn-around time between two crops and to ensure timely sowing of seeds. Also, work on permanent bed had been undertaken. The performance of the bed former was very good and crop yield was competitive with conventional tillage method. A power tiller operated zero-till drill with fertilizer distributor had been developed and tested in farmers' field in a few locations and its performance was satisfactory. All these resource conserving technologies had been proved appropriate in many areas of the country.
Nguema et al. (2013) conducted a research on farm-level economic impacts of conservation agriculture in Ecuador and analysed the potential economic impacts of conservation agriculture in two sub-watersheds utilizing a linear programming model by collecting data from experimental fields. The model found that specific cover crops, crop rotations and reduced tillage designed to reduce soil erosion, and increase soil organic matter can lead to increased income for farm households in a time period of as short as two years. It appeared that conservation agriculture practice have the potential to improve the livelihoods of the rural poor in Ecuador because conservation agriculture practice entered the revenue-maximizing model solution for both sub-watersheds.
Lai et al. (2012) conducted a comparative economic, gender and labour analysis of conservation agriculture practice in tribal villages of Kendujhar district in Odisha state, India and found that farmers struggled with farming on marginal lands with an increasing detrimental effect on agricultural productivity. The study focused on the implementation of conservation agriculture practice, specifically minimum tillage and intercropping in such villages and revealed that legume rotation without minimum tillage was more profitable than legume rotation with minimum tillage, which was comparatively more profitable than conventional agriculture.
Mazvimavi et al. (2012) performed a productivity and efficiency analysis of maize under conservation agriculture in Zimbabwe and showed that output was positively related to labour and seed in conservation agriculture but negatively in conventional farming. Fertilizer had a greater positive response in conservation agriculture than in conventional farming. There was evidence of technical progress in conservation agriculture. Technical progress was land-saving and seed-using in conservation agriculture, while it was land-using and seed-saving in conventional farming. The study also indicated that farmers produced 39% more output in conservation agriculture compared to conventional farming.
Kumar et al. (2011) performed a study on techno-economic feasibility of conservation agriculture in rainfed regions of India and identified significant economic benefits from a variety of conservation agriculture and related systems in a number of Indian states. In Haryana and Rajasthan states, conservation tillage was estimated to result in increases of 23% in yield and 1400 Rs/ha/annum in profit. In the same context, mulching was estimated to result in increases of 12% in yield and 325 Rs/ha/annum in profit. In Madhya Pradesh, conservation tillage in soybean increased yield by 15-18% and profit by 4500-5500 Rs/ha/annum. In Maharashtra, mulching in cotton increased yield by 5-20% and profit by 2000-12000 Rs/ha/annum.
Dhaliwal and Singh (2004) evaluated the socioeconomic impact of zero-tillage technology on wheat in nine erstwhile districts of Punjab, India, and observed a decline in the cost of production due to less use of farm machinery, labour, agrochemicals and higher yield due to less lodging of crop. The water requirement also went down significantly. The air pollution caused through burning of paddy straw was also minimized by the way of ploughing it in the field. Although some problems such as weed perpetuation, aeration, removal of paddy straw with appropriate attachments, higher seed rate requirement were also observed, the cost reduction, yield improvement and addressing of environmental concerns seemed to overweigh the problems.
Mondal (2014) stated conservation agriculture as the lighthouse to sail for sustainable agricultural growth in Bangladesh and mainly focused on conservation agriculture as resource saving environmentally friendly crop production practice. The study revealed that global adoption of conservation agriculture was nearly 116921 M ha in 2010 which was 8.5% of the total arable land. In Indo-Gangetic- plains, the adoption was 1.9 M ha in 2005. However, data on adoption of conservation agriculture in Bangladesh were scarce. Possibly, conservation agriculture practice started in Bangladesh in the name of Resource Conserving Technology (RCT). Knowledge on conservation agriculture, availability of suitable equipments and herbicide are major constrains for adopting conservation agriculture in Bangladesh.
Aune (2011) reviewed on the environmental impact of conventional, organic and conservation agriculture. Conventional agriculture was characterized by ploughing and limited recycling of organic materials; organic agriculture by using no pesticides and mineral fertilizer whereas conservation agriculture was characterized by zero tillage, use of mulch and crop rotations. The study showed that conservation agriculture was more efficient in building soil organic matter than organic agriculture and conventional agriculture. The study also showed that nitrogen and greenhouse gas emission were less in conservation agriculture as compared to conventional and organic agriculture. The non-use of pesticides was the major environmental advantages of organic agriculture.
Jat et al. (2011) discussed nutrient management perspectives of conservation agriculture in cereal systems of South Asia and showed that in the last five decades in India, nutrient use had been increased by 1573%, total food grain production by 145% and average yield by 125%. Conservation agriculture had proved to produce more at less costs, reduced environmental pollution, promoted conjunctive use of organic resources, improved soil health and promoted timely planting of crops to address issues of terminal heat stresses in the region. Thus, for addressing the issues of resource fatigue and bridging management yield gaps, conservation agriculture based management solutions was the cornerstone.
Nyanga et al. (2011) analysed smallholder farmers' perceptions of climate change and conservation agriculture in Zambia and found that smallholder farmers' perceptions related to floods and droughts were significantly associated with adoption of conservation agriculture. The extent to which smallholder farmers perceived conservation agriculture as a climate change adaptation strategy was very low. This suggested existence of other important reasons for practicing conservation agriculture than adaptation to climate change.
Wani et al. (2004) carried out a research on conservation tillage for enhancing productivity and protecting environment in India; and found that the traditional tillage and soil management systems led to low infiltration, high soil erosion, low cropping intensity and crop production. No-till or reduced tillage without crop residues on soil surface had no advantage since they lost water through runoff. Conventional tillage systems appeared to be advantageous, though ephemerally because it resulted into increased infiltration and reduced soil erosion, though on a long term it might be exacerbating the soil structure instability problem and its harmful effect on crop productivity. Conservation tillage had shown positive benefits in enhancing productivity and decreasing soil erosion but had limitation of availability of crop residues due to their use as animal feed.
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