Conservation agriculture in China and Democratic People's Republic of Korea

ca china  korea

FAO pilot projects on Conservation Agriculture (CA) in China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea applied CA principles - minimal soil disturbance, permanent soil cover and crop rotations - in eastern Asian diversified cropping systems for both upland crops and lowland rice areas. This proved the validity of CA under different agro-ecological conditions as a way to combine profitable agricultural production with environmental concerns.



Title: " Conservation Agriculture in China and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea"

Country: China and Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)

Organizations: Ministry of Agriculture of China, Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and the Food and Agriculture Organization

Theme: Agriculture

Overview of activities: Conservation Agriculture (CA) is "based on the integrated management of soil, water and agricultural resources in order to reach the objective of economically, ecologically, and socially sustainable agricultural production" (Mousques & Friedrich, 2007). It relies on three major principles:

  • Maintenance of a permanent vegetative soil cover or mulch to protect the soil surface;
  • Minimal soil disturbance by direct planting through the soil cover without seedbed preparation; and
  • Diversified crop rotations in the case of annual crops or plant associations in case of perennial crops.

In China, CA was introduced through recycling straw-to-soil, which aimed at reducing rates of fertilizer application, improving the soil physical and chemical conditions and increasing agricultural output quantity and quality.

In DPRK, on the other hand, a CA system of diversified crop rotation under the double-cropping system (wheat-soybean, maize-soybean, wheat-rice) with a green manure cover crop and the replacement of conventional soil tillage by no-tillage technologies was adopted.

Methodology: On-farm demonstrations were useful in this project as the farmers saw for themselves various CA technologies. It was noted that CA will succeed if its adoption is farmer-driven and on-farm demonstrations made this approach possible. Site/field visits and study tours also provided excellent opportunity to learn from others' experiences by sharing methods and partnering between researchers.

Likewise, the CA projects found education and training as an effective approach. This is because the CA project entailed teaching farmers about new technologies.

Traditional media like television and newspapers remained important channels in creating awareness among the public about projects. Local and provincial newspapers, radio, and television were used to inform the public about the progress of the project.

Major outcomes: In both countries, the economic benefits of CA practices such as crop rotation, no-tillage, and straw mulching were established through increased yields and reduced inputs. The project also demonstrated the value of these practices for weed control, soil moisture retention, and improvement of soil conditions for crop development. 



Claire Mousques, FAO Consultant -

Theodor Friedrich, Senior Officer
, FAO Crop and Grassland Service -


The project report is available here.