Abstract: A multi-pronged approach was adopted in gathering data for this study. Information sources included the Internet, agency and departmental reports, journal papers, conference papers and analytical reports. This paper presents some positive aspects of conservation agriculture. Conservation agriculture has emerged as an alternative to conventional agriculture. The rationale or case for CA is its potential ability to reduce soil degradation through several practices that minimize the alteration of soil composition and structure. It specifically purports to address the problems of soil degradation resulting from agricultural practices that deplete the organic matter and nutrient content of the soil, and reduce crop production, productivity and sustainability. CA also increases farm financial profitability and food security and enhances environmental integrity. Potential economic benefits associated with CA include a reduction in on-farm costs and an increase in yields and long-term yield stability. Ecosystem benefits of CA include stabilization of soils and protection from erosion, reduced siltation of water bodies, recharge of aquifers, and more regular river flows. CA also mitigates climate change by carbon sequestration in soils and reduced burning of crop residues. Constraints to CA adoption in sub-Saharan Africa include a low degree of mechanization within the smallholder farming system, a lack of appropriate implements, a lack of appropriate soil fertility management options, problems of weed control under no-till systems, poor access to credit, a lack of appropriate technical information for change agents and farmers, blanket recommendations that ignore the resource status of rural households, competition for crop residues in mixed crop-livestock systems, and labour shortages. There appears to be considerable potential for adoption of CA under smallholder farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa. However, the only feasible way to tap that potential appears to rest with the establishment and implementation of appropriate policy initiatives that address ecological, financial and socio-economic constraints facing the smallholder farming sector.
Keywords: conservation agriculture, soil degradation, soil composition, soil structure, economic benefits, productivity, profitability, sustainability