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This paper intends to provide comprehensive ideas and information about conservation agriculture as a biological engineering approach to sustainable food production in support of rural development in Southeast Asia. The basic principles of conservation agriculture, its advantages and benefits, its evolution, state of adoption in the world and in Southeast Asia, some recent advances in terms of experimental research in Southeast Asia, issues, constraints and challenges to its adoption, prospects for adoption in the region, and some policy implications are presented and discussed in this paper.
Conservation agriculture, which is based on the principles of minimum soil disturbance, continuous mulch cover, and diverse crop species rotation, is one of the most promising biological engineering technologies for sustainable agricultural and rural development in Southeast Asia. Recent experimental research results on conservation agriculture in the Philippines, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and Timor-Leste have provided empirical evidence on the benefits and advantages of conservation agriculture over plow-based crop production systems.