Research-based participatory approaches for adopting Conservation Agriculture in the Mediterranean Area (CAMA) is a three-year project, funded by the European Union in the frame of PRIMA, grant agreement number 1912. Conservation agriculture (CA) is a cropping system based on three principles: (1) minimum tillage and soil disturbance, (2) permanent soil surface cover with crop residues and cover crops and (3) crop diversification (rotation and intercropping). In Mediterranean rainfed cropping systems, the agronomic management practices try to use rainfall more efficiently. Most soils have low soil organic content, due to low water availability, the high temperature and tillage intensity. CA could in these conditions reduce the risk of soil quality degradation and improve nutrient and water use efficiencies, while providing a more stable yield, supporting smallholder agriculture. CAMA project aims to understand and overcome the barriers that prevent the adoption of CA in the Mediterranean basin. A multidisciplinary and participatory research will identify socioeconomic, technical and agronomic constraints for CA adoption, and will test and validate in field new and adapted techniques of CA, measuring their positive effects on soil properties and conservation, water use efficiency and crop development. Modelling of field data will allow simulating the effect of CA on crop growth, yield and soil fertility at the long-term. CAMA will derive and disseminate technical and policy recommendations, train and improve knowhow and capacities of researchers and practitioners for adapting and adopting CA in the Mediterranean region.
The CAMA project aims to identify the main barriers that hinder the adoption of Conservation Agriculture (CA) adoption by smallholders of Mediterranean countries and to overcome them by a participatory research approach based on the use of field experiments and pilot case studies in several conditions and the development of an extensive programme of dissemination and training.
1. Identifying the major social, economic and agronomic barriers to CA implementation by smallholders of Mediterranean countries; 2. Establishing a network of CA experiments and farmers associations adopting CA to apply a participatory research approach; 3. Improving legume-based rotations in rainfed CA cropping systems, with genomic and farmer-participatory research aimed to enhance legume crop yield and resilience and research on crop/residues management; 4. Quantifying the effects of CA application and developing agronomic innovation, to increase soil fertility, soil physical status, nitrogen and water use efficiencies, and to decrease soil erosion; 5. Disseminating the CA concept and techniques in Mediterranean countries, tailoring them to the specific pedo-climatic and socio-economic conditions; 6. Increasing technicians’, advisors’ and farmers’ know-how for a better adoption of CA, by the organisation of two training courses and their participation in the research activities.
On the general level of the PRIMA program “…its ability to develop and eventually adopt innovative and sustainable solutions for water management and provision and agro-food systems contributing to the implementation of UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development”, CAMA aims to develop technical solutions and cropping systems which will be conducive to widespread CA adoption. On the level of corresponding key performance indicators, CAMA contributes to the following general goals and will use the following outcomes indicators (in brackets): • Innovation in water management (number of applied R&I technical solutions to the challenges of water management); • Innovation in farming systems (number of new legume varieties/crops adaptable to CA; • Improved knowledge on soil erosion mechanism to enhance soil fertility; number of innovations in CA adoption from smallholders in Mediterranean area); • Economic growth/competitiveness (increased farmers’ income; enhanced technical level of technicians, extension services and farmers in Mediterranean rural areas). Similarly, CAMA delivers to the following Thematic Areas and Priorities: 1. Water management (by providing an increase in WUE with the adoption of CA principles, and new drought-tolerant cultivars, with a water-saving potential of 12-15%); 2. Farming systems (by providing high protein crops, reducing N application and consequent possible leaching, enabling sustainable and efficient agriculture and food production systems). Finally, the project will contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), linked to SDG2 (sustainable agriculture), SDG6 (responsible production and sustainable water management), SDG13 (Climate action) and SDG15 (protect land degradation).
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