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Third Conservation Agriculture Week in Sonora and Sinaloa, Mexico

Farmers in the Mexican states of Sonora and Sinaloa use conservation agriculture (CA) practices to reduce costs and achieve sustainable food production. In Sonora CA can generate average savings of 2,000 pesos per hectare, according to farmers. Sinaloa fails to produce 500,000 tons of maize by not using this technology, which saves costs and reduces the environmental impact of farming.

These were the main conclusions from an event held in Ciudad Obregón, Sonora, and Guasave, Sinaloa, during 9-14 September. It was attended by about 1,000 people, including farmers, technicians, researchers, state authorities, and businessmen. The program was coordinated by CIMMYT which, in collaboration with SAGARPA (Mexico’s Secretariat of Agriculture, Rural Development, Fisheries, and Food), promotes the adoption of sustainable agronomic practices through the Sustainable Modernization of Traditional Agriculture (MasAgro) initiative.

Activities at the event began with a description by Lope Montoya, head of the Norman Borlaug Experiment Station of INIFAP (the National Forestry, Agricultural and Livestock Research Institute) of soybean varieties that are highly resistant to a pest commonly known as white fly. A few days later, local research centers, such as the Technological Institute of Sonora (ITSON) and the Yaqui Valley Institute (ITVY), joined the event, which was aimed at transferring CA technology and knowledge to students, technicians, and farmers in Mexico’s North Pacific region.

During this rural extension effort, the testimony of maize and soybean farmer Roberto Encinas stood out: he compared conventional farming practices to conservation technology and reported average savings of 2,000 pesos per hectare after shifting to minimum tillage, retaining part of the crop residue on the soil surface, and practicing crop rotations.

During the five-day event, there were also demonstrations of farm machinery adapted for use with CA. Representatives of Industrias Vázquez, Sembradoras del Bajío, ASGROW, and John Deere explained the workings of precision planters, bed re-shapers, and fertilizer drills, among other multi-use and multi-crop implements designed specifically for sustainable farming.

In his speech, the mayor of Guasave, Ramón Barajas, mentioned the economic advantages of direct drilling (as CA is also known) during the Fifth Technological Event on Maize Cropping, which was organized by Fundación Produce Sinaloa as the final event of the Third Conservation Agriculture Week. Barajas also stated that Sinaloa fails to produce 500,000 tons of maize with an approximate value of 20 billion pesos, because farmers do not apply the technology, which generates cost savings and reduces the impact of their farming activities on the environment.