Transition of food systems


June 21st 2021

An operational definition of Conservation Agriculture to categorize the diversity of models in a given territory

This poster presents the results of a literature review to build a broad and operational definition of Conservation Agriculture.


Read the full presentation

Full presentation

Conservation Agriculture (CA) is not a uniform agrarian system, but rather contains multiple models to fit the constraints and needs of farmers. Although the presence of a diversity of models in Wallonia has already been relayed several times, the models are not yet known and identified. Knowledge of these models is necessary to assess their economic, social and environmental potential.

To categorize the models present in a given territory, a typology based on the definition of CA must be constructed. But which definition of CA should be used as a reference? Three pillars are commonly accepted within the scientific community as the foundations of CA. Nevertheless, there is a lack of clear indications regarding the practical implementation of the pillars to enable the definition to be operational on the field. Moreover, the definitions diverge and contradict each other within the various scientific papers.

A literature review of the convergences and divergences is conducted among fourteen sources to construct a working definition of CA that can be used to establish a typology. The analysis of these sources revealed a definition of CA comprising the three fundamental pillars, combined with additional practices. While pillars distinguish CA from other farming systems, additional practices facilitate the adoption and the sustainability of a CA model.

This definition provides a comprehensive conceptual framework that is applicable and modifiable to all regions where CA is practiced. It has been adapted to respond to the local context. Typologies can be constructed from this operational definition of CA to study the diversity of CA practices.