The Prospects for Conservation Agriculture in Ethiopia

  • Jens B. AuneEmail author


About 90% of the farmland in Ethiopia is tilled by the ard plough (the maresha) pulled by a pair of oxen. Animal traction is therefore the major output from the livestock system in Ethiopia, whilst the output in terms of milk and meat production is significantly less. This study summarises the effects of conservation agriculture (CA) on yield, soil properties, soil erosion, labour use and economic return in Ethiopia, as well as factors determining the adoption of CA in the country. An approach for the upscaling of CA in Ethiopia is proposed. By summarising results from different field experiments that compare conventional tillage to reduced tillage, the change in yield (%) was −4.0, +0.8 and −0.1 for maize (Zea mays), teff (Eragrostis tef) and wheat (Triticum aestivum), respectively. The yield difference between conventional tillage and zero tillage was −24.8% in maize. Factors that have been found to promote the adoption of CA include access to inputs and credit, the competence of CA amongst extension agents, membership of farm organisations, farmers’ education and farmers’ assets. Studies on technology adoption in Ethiopia show that it is preferable to bundle technologies together in the form of a package. CA should therefore not be promoted as a stand alone approach, but rather as part of an integrated farming system focusing on crop and livestock intensification through the use of improved germplasm, integrated soil fertility management, weed and pest management and fodder production as well as partial stall feeding and changes in the composition of livestock. Conservation agriculture has implications in farming systems beyond crop production, and this should be reflected in the approach for the upscaling of CA.


Ox-ploughing Crop-livestock interactions Yield effects Adoption Policies 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of International Environment and Development Studies (Noragric)Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)ÅsNorway

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