A diverse group of farmers, researchers, farm machinery experts, and private and public sector representatives gathered in the Yaqui Valley of Sonora, Mexico, on 18 January 2010 to discuss conservation agriculture (CA), with a focus on CA hub activities for irrigated systems in the Pacific zone of Mexico.
“To be able to implement CA, you have to be a real farmer and be totally immersed in the system,” said Mayo Félix, a local farmer who hosts a CA plot on his land. Félix, who has extensive experience with CA, spoke to farmers from the states of Sonora and Sinaloa about the advantages of the system, and also about the problems that may arise and how to solve them.
Another innovative CA leader, Mexican farmer Román Portela, spoke of the relevance of CA for improving sustainability and crop competitiveness, as well as the importance of incorporating other new technologies, such as the GreenSeeker sensor. GreenSeeker allows farmers to apply just the right amount of nitrogen to the crop, a process that was further explained Iván Ortiz-Monasterio, fertilization expert.
In addition to Mexican-based CA users—and those interested in adopting CA practices—the event included several agronomy experts from other countries. Enamul Haque, an agronomist based in Bangladesh, talked about the good results they’ve had with bed planting in different Asian countries and expressed his appreciation for Mexico’s support, which has enabled him to bring CA to farmers in his country. Ravi Gopal, Indian hub manager for the Cereal System Initiative for South Asia (CSISA), gave a presentation on weed control in the CA system.
Bram Govaerts, a CA specialist who has extensive experience with CA in Mexico and in other parts of the world, also shared his experiences. “To get the system off to a good start, beds must be evenly spaced, you must have good furrows and effective land leveling, because, once formed, the beds will never be moved. All this will avoid problems later on.”
The event was proof that CA is a platform for achieving sustainable agriculture that can be combined with other technologies and agronomic practices, and that together they can produce an efficient and functional system.