ConServeTerra is a PRIMA (prima-med.org/) funded Research and Innovation project tackling the constraints to greater Conservation Agriculture (CA) adoption in the Mediterranean area. ConServeTerra will directly target rarely addressed adoption constraints of CA systems and develop applicable and adoptable systems. One example of such adoption constraint is the human dimension of soil degradation, which is rooted in the socio-economic, political, cultural and mental environment. ConServeTerra is designed with the premise that main constraints hampering wider adoption of CA across the Mediterranean region are associated with mental and cultural attitudes, as well as social determinants towards soil and its management. An additional constraint is the insufficient promotion of context specific, hence a pragmatic approach to CA. Further complication arises from the direct “technology transfer” approach taken by the CA projects asking smallholder farmers to imitate the large-scale CA management tools. This “technology transfer” approach disregards the local realities such as communal stubble grazing and occasional necessity of tillage in the absence of expensive herbicides.
The overall objective of ConServeTerra is to facilitate wider acceptance and adoption of CA principles in the Mediterranean region by tackling the mental, cultural and contextual realities surrounding farmers’ soil management decisions. More specifically ConServeTerra aims to: Determine the mental models and social determinants of farmers’ soil management decisions particularly in respect to CA and reduced soil disturbance. Improve farmers’ appreciation and understanding of soil and its degradation through farmer field schools (FFS) and rainfall simulators. Test whether Farmer Field Schools (FFS) can increase implementation of soil conservation techniques such as CA and enhance farm performance. Investigate the feasibility and performance (weed control, crop productivity and soil quality) of strategic tillage and reduced tillage compared to no-till. Develop best management strategies for weed management in pulse and forage legume cultivation in low input and conservation/ reduced tillage conditions. Develop best management protocols for stubble grazing and livestock management that is in synchrony with CA principles. Capacity building to strengthen innovation networks for participatory decision-making, science and policy dialogue and dissemination of tested best practices of context specific CA.
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