Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/1/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: With the general upsurge in public interest regarding agricultural sustainability, producers will have to adopt conservation cropping systems. Successful conservation farming systems involve integrating several agronomic components together to accommodate a farm's environment. This chapter enumerates and describes the various characteristics that are essential for a complete conservation farming system. The history of systems research illustrates that a successful conservation farming system is "only as strong as its weakest link."
Technical Abstract: Conservation farming systems are a subset of general systems. Conservation farming systems add the objectives of soil, water, and air quality protection to those of achieving acceptable crop yields and adequate farm income. The landmark 1985 Farm Bill added urgency to the drive to develop and implement conservation farming systems. Farmers with highly erodible land were required to file approved soil-conserving farm plans by 1990 and fully implement them by 1995 in order to remain eligible for USDA programs. This chapter describes selected research trials for the annual cropping region of the eastern Palouse located in eastern Washington and north- central Idaho. The learning process accompanying this research highlights the importance of a "full systems approach" in identifying economically and agronomically successful conservation farming systems.