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Green Manure/Cover Crops and Crop Rotation in Conservation Agriculture on Small Farms

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
Year Published:
Resource Type:
Technical Guidance

Soil degradation on small farms in the Eastern Region of Paraguay is the principal cause of a continuous decrease in crop production. The consequences of this are reduced economic income and increased poverty among rural families.

One of the principal reasons for this fact is the continuous utilization of inadequate methods of soil management, including the burning of vegetative residues, excessive tillage, and monoculture. The exposure of bare soil to climatic agents (high temperatures, torrential rains) accelerates the soil degradation process, as they cause excessively rapid decomposition of biomass and favor the erosion and leaching of nutrients.

The objective of this publication is to offer a reference material for extensionists, professors, agronomy students, technicians in general, and for farmers themselves. Through information that is up-to-date and richly illustrated, it strives to facilitate the adoption and diffusion of No-Tillage, the use of green manures, and the practice of crop rotation on small farms.

The wealth of this work is that it brings together the experiences of farmers, extensionists, and researchers in a way that is simple, understandable, and practical. It describes the principal species of green manures and, at the same time, informs in detail how to insert green manures into small farm production systems according to soil fertility and major crops. It also deals with the residual effect of green manures on main crops and analyzes the economic implications of these practices. Furthermore, it describes the results obtained in the recuperation of extremely degraded soils. Finally, this work strives to show the way to achieve an agriculture that is more productive, profitable, competitive, and sustainable, with the objective of improving the quality of life of rural families.