World Journal of Agricultural Research
ISSN (Print): 2333-0643 ISSN (Online): 2333-0678 Website: Editor-in-chief: Rener Luciano de Souza Ferraz
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World Journal of Agricultural Research. 2014, 2(6A), 18-24
DOI: 10.12691/wjar-2-6A-4
Open AccessResearch Article

Conservation Agriculture as an Alternative for Soil Erosion Control and Crop Production in Steep-slopes Regions Cultivated by Small-scale Farmers in Motozintla, Mexico


1International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Apdo. Postal 6-641, 06600 Mexico, D.F., Mexico

2Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Celestijnenlaan 200 E, 3001 Leuven, Belgium

3ETHZurich, Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Eschikon 33, 8315 Lindau (ZH), Switzerland

Pub. Date: December 28, 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Agriculture for Sustainable Intensification)

Cite this paper:
R. ROMERO-PEREZGROVAS and S. CHEESMAN. Conservation Agriculture as an Alternative for Soil Erosion Control and Crop Production in Steep-slopes Regions Cultivated by Small-scale Farmers in Motozintla, Mexico. World Journal of Agricultural Research. 2014; 2(6A):18-24. doi: 10.12691/wjar-2-6A-4


Agricultural activities in steep-slope regions of the world have been increasing in recent years. When annual crops are produced in these regions, high soil erosion rates become a constant threat. An extended body of literature proposes reforestation or plantations with perennial crops as potential solutions. However, such approaches fail to meet the needs of the small-scale farmers who rely on annual crops to produce the lion’s share of their food. Another commonly used measure to tackle erosion is the construction of physical barriers – a solution that demands substantial investment, for both implementation and maintenance. Analternative solution is conservation agriculture (CA), which is a cropping system based on three principles: 1) minimal soil disturbance; 2) crop rotations and/or intercropping, and 3) permanent soil cover through crop residue management. Using longitudinal statistical analysis this research – based on survey data (154 observations) collected in 1994 and 2008 within two ejidos of Motozintla in the state of Chiapas, Mexico – found that under CA, maize (Zea mays) and bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) yields remained at minimum consistent, and in some cases increased over time. Maize yields reached 3.3 ton ha-1, whilst bean reached 262 kg ha-1. Maize yields were also consistently higher than the long-term state's average (1987-2012) of 2.3 ton ha-1. Moreover, 90% of the farmers perceived that CA improved soil fertility and 99% observed that CA effectively controlled erosion. The traditional system in these two ejidos presented a number of enabling characteristics for facilitating CA implementation: no mechanisation was being utilized, intercropping was already a common practice, and the main competitor for crop residue use (ruminants) could eventually be substituted for other livestock such as pigs. This research provides evidence to demonstrate that long-term adoption of CA in a steep-slope region can help to control soil erosion whilst allowing farmers to produce their staple crops.

chiapas farmer perception survey data longitudinal statistical analysis maize beans yield adoption enabling characteristics

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