Conservation farming is a combination of agricultural methods that protects the environment while producing more crops. Protecting the soil, providing plants with better food and water, and rotating crops are all methods used to conserve farmland. Natural fertilization, such as manure, is used to avoid harmful fertilizers.
Farming is one of the most destructive practices carried out by humans, because the most popular methods often damage the soil, resulting in smaller crop yields year after year. Conservation farming encourages the use of no-till farming, which is a method of planting seeds in narrow beds using a planter that will cut through the ground and a seed slot opener that makes a slot for seeds to be dropped in. Other green farming methods of planting include ridge-tilling, in which seeds are planted in raised ridges, and strip-tilling, in which plants are placed in strips plowed in the field. Both methods require two-thirds less soil to be disturbed compared to traditional tilling methods.
These conservation farming methods disturb the soil less, so there is less erosion. Tilling one-third of the soil loosens it enough that water will saturate the ground better instead of washing the soil away. Wind also will not have as much of an effect on the soil. Plants develop better root systems in loosened soil and are better able to access the minerals and water needed for optimal growth.
Crop rotation is a farming method that has been used for hundreds of years. In conservation farming, rotating more than two different crops is encouraged. Weeds and insects are not able to gain a foothold in fields when crops are being rotated, meaning infestations may become a thing of the past. A field's infrastructure can be built up using crop rotation, because changing the crops grown will develop rooting zones that encourage water to fully infiltrate the field. Different crops require different nutrients, and crop rotation ensures that nutrients are not completely depleted, which will produce larger harvests.
Chemical fertilizers are a major source of pollution from farms. The natural fertilizers promoted by conservation farming help to enrich the soil and do not cause pollution. One method used to naturally fertilize farmland is to plow a field in such a way as to uproot any weeds or grass, which will deteriorate and provide essential nutrients to the soil. Another method is to allow grazing animals to graze on fields that are not in use. The manure produced by the animals is a natural fertilizer that makes the soil more fertile for the next planting season.