Farm level impacts of conservation agriculture in Ecuador
Norton, George W.
Barrera, Victor H.
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Farmers in the Bolivar province of Ecuador face significant livelihood challenges including environmental degradation and low yields. Conservation agriculture (CA), which promotes reduced tillage, intercropping, and maintaining an organic soil cover, offers a potential solution. This article presents a two-year study analyzing conservation agriculture’s short-term effect on net income. Treatments of various combinations of conservation agriculture methods were applied in the Alumbre and Illangama sub-watersheds. Linear modeling was used to determine which practice would generate the highest net income based on land, labor, and other constraints. In Illangama, the optimal solution consisted of a combination of three treatments: one conventional agriculture plot and two plots implementing the CA practices of crop rotation and cover crops (under conventional tillage). In Alumbre, on the other hand, the optimal solution consisted of the same application on all fields of reduced tillage, crop rotation, and an oats-vetch cover crop. In both instances, the application of CA techniques resulted in a higher net income, indicating that CA is economically beneficial, even in the short run.