Conservation Agriculture is a promoted form of agriculture, sustaining climate change resilience for smallholder farmers across Africa. However, adoption rates remain low, particularly in Malawi. Scientists Hermans et al. recently revealed a clear distinction between the agro-ecological and socio-economic approaches to conservation agriculture research. They suggested that on-farm trials may help to bridge the two approaches together, leading to better understand what forms of conservation agriculture work, where, for whom and, crucially, why.