Dryland grain farmers in some 30 counties in Shanxi Province, Peoples Republic of China, are now practising some form of conservation tillage farming following a successful research and technology transfer project. While this represents only 5 percent of graingrowing land in the province, it marks the start of a trend that will lead to major changes in farming in China if the apparently attractive economics of conservation farming are confirmed. As well as the trend to conservation tillage farming in Chinese agriculture, there are other fundamental changes occurring. With the introduction of mechanisation, there are incentives to increase farm size and the structural changes that could flow from this could see farm workers displaced. The cost savings from conservation tillage are significant since a number of costly, timeconsuming farm operations can be eliminated. There is a consensus view that more moisture is stored in the soil under a conservation tillage system but the extent to which crop yields will be increased by the practice has not been established at this stage. While farmers have had access to conservation tillage planters and other equipment at low cost during the experimental phase of the work, they have indicated a willingness to implement the technology given reasonable commercial costs for the equipment. International transfer of technology across cultural, language, and other barriers is not often successful. This has been a successful project from which a number of lessons can be learned.


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