Farm mechanisation and conservation agriculture for sustainable intensification

farmer on small tractor
Project code
AUD 5,150,955
Research program manager
Dr Eric Huttner
Project leader
Bruno Gerard - International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center
Commissioned organisation
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center
MAR 2013
DEC 2019
Project status
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This project aimed to accelerate delivery of two-wheel tractor-based technologies to smallholder farmers in Eastern and Southern Africa, and help them adopt the technology.

This improved access to mechanization, reduced labour drudgery, and minimised biomass trade-offs.

Sub-Saharan Africa needs sustainable intensification of agriculture. Research for development work is increasing the efficiency with which land, water and nutrients are being used, but farm power appears to be a forgotten resource.

Farm power in Sub-Saharan Africa countries is declining because most tractor hire schemes have collapsed, and the number of both draught animals and human labourers has declined. Low farm mechanization causes high labour drudgery, which disproportionally affects women.

For sustainable intensification in Sub-Saharan Africa to work, the farm power balance must be improved through increased power supply (via improved access to mechanization) and/or reduced power demand (via energy saving technologies such as conservation agriculture).

Project outcomes

  • Evaluated and demonstrated two-wheel tractor-based technologies to support CA systems, using expertise and implements from Africa, South Asia and Australia.
  • Tested site-specific commercial systems to deliver two-wheel tractor-based mechanization.
  • Identified improvements in national institutions and policies for wide adoption of two-wheel tractor-based mechanization.
  • Improved capacity and created awareness of two-wheel tractor-based technologies in the sub-region, and shared knowledge and information with other regions.
Key partners
African Conservation Tillage Network
Charles Sturt University
Directorate of Research and Development
Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research
Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations
Indian Council of Agricultural Research
Institute of Agricultural Engineering
International Development Enterprises
International Food Policy Research Institute
Kenya Network for Dissemination of Agricltural Technologies
Kenya Network for Dissemination of Agricultural Technologies
Selam Awassa Business Group PLC
University of Zimbabwe