The intenon was to design a system for implementaon of Conservaon and Regenerave
Agriculture principles in mixed smallholder farming systems that is more appropriate for them than
the convenonal high external input and highly mechanized farming system pracced commercially.
And also, to provide for substanal soil ferlity, soil health, water management and environmental
benets, alongside improved producvity and value chain development. The adapve research
process has been embedded in community level learning groups and provides for full parcipaon of
farmers in analysis, planning, implementaon and review in an annual cycle, to rmly scaold
learnings and allow for the required paradigm shi required for CA implementaon.
The smallholder farmer innovaon development process (SFIP) has been supported by the Maize
Trust through GrainSA and lately Asset Research with the following programmitc elements.
The inial model was designed with a strong component of awareness raising and expansion of CA
implementaon, with exploraon of appropriate approaches, followed in the last 4 years by a more
quantave and technical exploraon of specic elements within the CA system.
Maximum yields obtained by individual smallholders have, however, increased from 6,7 t/ha
to 14,6 t/ha between 2014 and 2022, indicang that for high performing smallholder farmers
a yield gain of around 1 t/ha per annum is possible under CA cropping systems despite
dicult climac condions.
Yield dierences between CMTs and FMTs are not stascally signicant.
On average there are signicant yield gains aer the rst 2-3 years of CA implementaon,
aer which the yields stabilize, despite dicult growing condions brought on through
climate change (late onset of rains, heat waves, mid season drought, hail storms, oods and
Intercropping with legumes (beans and cowpeas) as well as pumpkins provides stascally
signicant yield gains for maize in the CA system.
Crop rotaons that include legumes and cover crops (mulple species) provide for signicant
increases in maize yields following on these rotaons.
Intercropping and crop rotaon reduce the impact of soil borne fungal diseases on maize
producon as well as the presence of mycotoxins in post harvest maize, as shown through
collaboraon in the MT supported mycotoxin study.
On average the CA block trial plots produce 2t/ha more maize than the control plots (CA and
convenonal) and the CA strip trial plots produce 3t/ha more. With the control maize
between CA and convenonal llage providing similarly low yields between 1,8and 2,5t/ha
Maximum maize yields for CA trial plots (mul cropping and rotaon) have increased from
6,7t/ha in 2014 to 14,6t/ha in 2023
Maximum maize yields for CA control (maize only) plots have increased from 2,5t/ha in 2014
to 3,9t/ha in 2023.
The above two points clearly show the potenal yield increases possible through using mulit
cropping and crop rotaon compared to maize only under CA
CA mixed>CA mono crop>CA control>Convenonal control.
Runo: Average runo on CA trial plots over 4years is 5,4% of rainfall. For the CA control
plots the percentage runo is 7,8%. Run-o averages across all CA trial plots are 31% lower
than runo in the control plots (CA control maize or ploughed- mono cropped ). Between
2%-5% (ave 2,4%) of total rainfall is saved through reduced runo in the CA trial plots.
Water producvity: WP for maize grown in a mul-cropping rotaon CA system is much
higher (x2) than CA mono-cropped maize or convenonally lled maize. In the last 4 seasons
annual increased in water producvity for the CA system has been between 30%-50%.
Volumetric water benet for intercropped and rotated CA plots is ~7 million litres/ha more
than convenonal llage and for mono-cropped CA plots is ~0,3 million litres/ha more.
In summary there is strong evidence through research of much improved yield, producvity and
water resource management for the mul-cropping, rotaon CA system for dryland cropping
designed for smallholder farmers.