Proceedings

NPR – Direct Drilling As A Tool In Conservation Agriculture For Small Farmers

The practice of Direct Drilling has become widely used during the past few decades as a means of conserving soil moisture and combating soil erosion. The most progress has been in the development of suitable large scale planting equipment designed for use in crop production on big farms sometimes extending to thousands of hectares. This tackle requires the largest tractors of several hundred horse power to be able to operate it: something which puts it completely out of reach of the small farmer. The latter may rely on contractors to plough his crop area or even own a small tractor himself. Usually the pre planting operation is with a disc plough followed by a disc harrowing. This can be extremely bad for the soil causing a breakdown of soil structure, the formation of plough pans and accelerated soil erosion.
In the last two years a prototype small direct planter has been developed to replace the disc plough for use with smaller tractors, something which has been rather neglected until now. This has been tried with success in Kenya and this presentation discusses work done to date; the challenges faced and the requirements for a large extension input to overcome the inherent resistance to change by farmers and the reasons for the latter.
Africa can ill afford to repeat the destruction of soils which has occurred in some other parts of the world and this paper aims to outline one method by which this may be achieved.

Keywords: conservation agriculture, smallholder, mechanised, zero tillage

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Author(s): Roberts, T.

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Organizations(s): Consultant, Member of the Tropical Agriculture Association (TAA)