Impacts of conservation agriculture in diverse agro-ecologies

Description of the topic

To help maize and wheat farmers produce more sustainably and profitably, CIMMYT set up a network of research platforms, in collaboration with local partners. The network of research platforms in Mexico comprises over 50 field trials in which conservation agriculture based sustainable intensification methods are investigated, adapted to local conditions and demonstrated to farmers. The research is based in conservation agriculture, the production system based on three principles: 1) minimal tillage, 2) soil cover with crops or residues and 3) crop diversification. Conservation agriculture aims to preserve soils and improve soil fertility while reducing production costs. The more than 50 research platforms are located across Mexico and offer the opportunity to study the effects of conservation agriculture in diverse agro-ecological conditions. All platforms contain a treatment that is representative of the local conventional production system and several treatments that aim to adapt the principles of conservation agriculture to the local conditions. Conservation agriculture has been shown to have positive impacts on soil quality, erosion, water use efficiency and weed and pest management but research is needed to evaluate how these effects vary between different ecological conditions. Mexico is a diverse country with many different climate and soil types and the effects of conservation agriculture can vary across the regions.


The aim of this research topic is to evaluate the positive and negative effects of conservation agriculture on soil quality, water use or weed and pest management in the diverse agro-ecologies across the country.


Work expectations

Before visiting the student will perform a review of available literature, determine which aspect of the effects of conservation agriculture will be the topic of the study and develop a study proposal.

Based on the topic and the available time and resources the number and location of research platforms to be included in the study will be determined. The student will plan the measurements, develop the work plan and visit the research platforms together with the local team to perform the measurements.

Required skills

Knowledge of soil science and/or agronomy

At least basic level of Spanish

Statistical analysis

Excellent English writing skills

Availability to do research in Mexico for at least three months

Willingness to travel within Mexico