Europe is considered to be a developing continent in terms of the adoption of CA. Only Africa, with about 1 Mha under CA corresponding to 1% of the arable land in the reporting countries has a smaller area under CA/no-till than Europe (including Russia) with 6 Mha corresponding to about 3% of the cropland. According to Basch (2005): "European and national administrations are still not fully convinced that the concept of CA is the most promising one to meet the requirements of an environmentally friendly farming, capable to meet the needs of the farmers to lower production costs and increase farm income, and to meet the consumer demands for enough and affordable quality food with a minimum impact on natural, non-renewable resources. The reliance of CA on the use of herbicides and the alleged increased input of herbicides and other chemicals for disease and pest control are the main constraints to the full acceptance of CA as a sustainable crop production concept.
The global proliferation of negative environmental events, such as soil degradation and erosion, increasing humus decomposition through intensive soil cultivation and the associated release of CO2 into the atmosphere, decreasing biodiversity through the removal of plant residues from the ground surface and also the political context (cadastral maps of erosion) make a change from conventional agriculture (ConvA) to CA essential in the future. All recent studies as well as field observations show that European soils are threatened by erosion, compaction and loss of organic matter in moist areas as well as in dry zones. Water pollution with nitrates, phosphorus and pesticides is widespread over Europe.
Theodor FRIEDRICH, Plant Production and Protection Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome; Amir KASSAM, School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading, UK ; Sandra CORSIL, University of Teramo, Italy
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