This paper analyses the determinants of farmer adoption of conservation farming practices using panel data from two rounds of the Rural Incomes and Livelihoods Surveys that were implemented in 2004 and 2008. Conservation farming (CF) has been actively promoted in seven of Zambia's nine provinces since the 1980s. CF has the technical potential to contribute to food security and adaptation to climate change; however, rigorous analyses of the determinants of adoption/dis-adoption of these practices, are still scarce. This paper fills this gap by combining rich panel data with historical rainfall data to understand the determinants of adoption and intensity of two CF practices: minimum/zero tillage and planting basins. Controlling for the confounding effects of household level unobservables, we find that extension services and rainfall variability are the strongest determinants of adoption, suggesting that farmers use these practices as an adaptation strategy to mitigate the negative effects of variable rainfall. Eastern province shows a significantly different trend in terms of both adoption and the intensity of adoption, indicating that the long established CF activities in the province have had some impact though high disadoption rates are observed even in this province.