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Bridging the disciplinary gap in conservation agriculture research, in Malawi. A review

Author: Hermans, T.D.G.
Author: Whitfield, S.
Author: Dougill, A.J.
Author: Thierfelder, C.
Year: 2020
ISSN: 1774-0746 (Print)
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10883/20663
Format: PDF
Language: English
Publisher: Springer
Copyright: CIMMYT manages Intellectual Assets as International Public Goods. The user is free to download, print, store and share this work. In case you want to translate or create any other derivative work and share or distribute such translation/derivative work, please contact CIMMYT-Knowledge-Center@cgiar.org indicating the work you want to use and the kind of use you intend; CIMMYT will contact you with the suitable license for that purpose.
Type: Article
Place of Publication: Germany
Issue: 1
Issue: art. 3
Volume: 40
DOI: 10.1007/s13593-020-0608-9
Description: Conservation Agriculture has emerged as a popular form of climate smart agriculture aimed at enhancing climate change resilience for smallholder farmers across Africa. Despite positive biophysical results, adoption rates remain low. It has been acknowledged that improved understanding of farmer decision-making is needed due to the variation in socio-economic and agro-ecological contexts which drives the research agenda to answer the question ‘what forms of Conservation Agriculture work, where, and why?’. To fully understand this question, we need to approach the study of Conservation Agriculture within complex farming systems by collating and integrating different forms of knowledge. In this paper, we discuss (1) a comparison of disciplinary approaches to evaluating Conservation Agriculture in Malawi, (2) the identification of the knowledge gaps that persist at the intersection of these disciplines and (3) recommendations for alternative and interdisciplinary approaches in addressing these knowledge gaps. With a focus on published studies from Malawi, we show that the Conservation Agriculture literature represents two distinct approaches to addressing the question ‘what forms of Conservation Agriculture work, where, and why?’, namely agro-ecological and socio-economic and that neither of these approaches can address the full scope of this question, in particular its ‘why’ component. To overcome these challenges, there is a need for access to compatible, comprehensive data sets, methodological approaches including farmer participation and ethnography, through on-farm trial research as a middle ground between disciplinary approaches.
Country of Focus: SOUTHERN AFRICA
Country of Focus: MALAWI
Agrovoc: FARMING SYSTEMS
Agrovoc: CLIMATE-SMART AGRICULTURE
Agrovoc: ZERO TILLAGE
Journal: Agronomy for Sustainable Development


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  • Sustainable Intensification
    Sustainable intensification agriculture including topics on cropping systems, agronomy, soil, mechanization, precision agriculture, etc.

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