Improved Soil Environment Under Conservation Agriculture

  • P. Pramanik
  • Priya Bhattacharya
  • B. Chakrabarti
  • T. Ghosh


The natural resources are continuously depleting because of the intensive agricultural operation, the insufficient return of organic matter (OM) to the soil, and continuous monocropping system. Along with OM depletion, erosion and soil salinization are aggravating the problems of resource depletion several times. For achieving food security and alleviation of hunger and poverty, there is a need of a sustainable agricultural production technology, which will be able to conserve the natural resources and will be capable of reducing the harmful effect on the environment. Under these circumstances, conservation agriculture (CA) has come to be a promising production technology which consists of minimum soil disturbance, permanent soil cover maintenance by means of cover crops and/or crop residues, and crop diversification for attaining higher crop productivity and subsequently decreasing the adverse environmental effects. It is also referred to as resource efficient or resource effective agriculture. The ultimate aim of CA is to achieve satisfactory returns and greater plus persistent crop production and, at the same time, to conserve the environment. The prime goal of CA is to reduce the adverse impact of traditional agriculture and burning or removal of crop residue. Right now, CA is followed on approximately 157 million ha arable land worldwide. CA can effectively conserve and use the natural resources as it involves integrated management of soil, available water, and biological resources along with the judicial use of external inputs. In CA, good agronomic practices like timely farm operations, quality seeds use, and integrated weed, nutrient, pest, as well as water management are followed. The yield under CA system is at par with the conventional system. Residue retained on the surface of soil helps in improving soil quality, plant health, and overall resource use efficiencies. CA practices can improve the water and nutrient use efficiencies by enhancing nutrient balances and availability, infiltration, and water retention in soils; by reducing evaporation losses; and by enhancing the surface and subsurface water quality and availability. As the pragmatism of CA in various parts of the globe is governed by the biophysical and socioeconomic challenges, an adaptation of CA should be as per the site and farmer’s condition. As CA requires better understanding and knowledge, convincing the farmers through proof is the most important task in motivating the farmers for adopting CA. In this chapter, an attempt has been made to describe how CA can modify and improve the soil physical environment.


Conservation agriculture Intensive agriculture Soil health Soil organic carbon Soil temperature Zero tillage 



Bulk density


Conservation agriculture


Conventional tillage


Controlled traffic farming


Direct-seeded rice


Food and Agriculture Organization


Good agronomic practices


Greenhouse gases


Global positioning systems


High-yielding varieties


Indo-Gangetic Plain


Integrated pest management


Mean weight diameter




Organic matter


Reduced tillage


Soil organic carbon


Water-use efficiency


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Pramanik
    • 1
  • Priya Bhattacharya
    • 1
  • B. Chakrabarti
    • 2
  • T. Ghosh
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Agricultural PhysicsICAR-Indian Agricultural Research InstituteNew DelhiIndia
  2. 2.Centre for Environment Science and Climate Resilient AgricultureICAR- Indian Agricultural Research InstituteNew DelhiIndia

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