Impacts of CIMMYT’s formal training activities linked to long-term trials in the field of Conservation Agriculture: 1996-2006.

Conservation agriculture (CA) combines the principles of a) reduced tillage systems that feature minimal soil disturbance; b) retention of adequate levels of crop residues and cover on the soil surface, to protect the soil from water/wind erosion, water run-off and evaporation, improve water productivity and enhance soil properties; and c) economically viable, diversifi ed crop rotations to help mitigate weed, disease, and pest problems. These principles are applicable to a wide range of crop production systems under low-yielding, dry rainfed and high-yielding irrigated conditions. CIMMYT has offered courses on CA for many years that link a multidisciplinary approach to sustainable crop management with the experience of agronomists leading projects in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. This report summarizes the strengths, weaknesses, outcomes, and impacts of the CIMMYT CA course titled “Bed planting and zero till conservation agriculture technologies for irrigated and rainfed wheat and maize production systems.” During the 10-year span covered by this study, the course was held 16 times under the leadership of CIMMYT agronomist Dr. Ken Sayre. Information presented in this study was gathered from two surveys; one designed for past course participants (scientists attending four-to-fi ve-week training courses in CIMMYT facilities in Mexico). The other survey was prepared for their immediate research leaders and supervisors in the area of agronomy/conservation agriculture.