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Adoption of conservation agriculture in europe. Lesson of the KASSA project

Lahmar R.. 2007. In : COST 634 Workshop, October 1-3th 2006, Wageningen, The Netherlands. s.l. : s.n., p. 1-15. COST 634 Workshop, 2006-10-01/2006-10-03, Wageningen (Pays-Bas).

According to KASSA findings, conservation agriculture is less adopted in Europe compared to other adopting regions and, reduced tillage is more common than no-tillage and cover crops. Currently, it is not popularised and it is less researched. It seems that the lack of knowledge on conservation agriculture systems and their management and, the absence of dynamic and effective innovation systems make it difficult and socio-economically risky for farmers to give up ploughing which is a paradigm rooted in their cultural backgrounds. In Norway and Germany the adoption of conservation agriculture has been encouraged and subsidised to mitigate soil erosion. In the other European countries the adoption process seems mainly farmers driven and the major driving force has been the cost reduction in machinery, fuel and labour saving. Soil and water conservation concerns did not appear as main drivers in the European farmers¿ decision to shift or not to conservation agriculture. The conversion of European farmers to conservation agriculture is being achieved through a step by step attitude; large scale farms are the most adopters, probably due to their ability to absorb risks. The short term socio-economic benefits that conservation agriculture provides, the need to improve farms¿ competitiveness, market globalization and the steady increase of fuel cost are likely to be sufficient to boost the ongoing slow adoption trend of conservation agriculture in Europe. Conservation agriculture is not equally suitable for all the European agroecosystems. The need of soil and water conservation in Europe requires anticipating the ongoing process in order to improve its ecological sustainability. Priority would be to define which regions in Europe are the most suitable for conservation agriculture taking into account climate and soil constraints, length of growing period, water availability and quality, erosion hazards and farming conditions. Policy and financial support favouring the use of cover crops and agronomically sound crop rotations as management strategies for weed, pest and diseases will certainly allow developing efficient and acceptable CA systems.

Mots-clés : agriculture alternative; pratique culturale; non-travail du sol; conservation de l'eau; conservation des sols; adoption de l'innovation; lutte antiérosion; europe; agriculture de conservation

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