Farming system is a complex inter-related matrix of soil, plants, animal implements, power, labour, capital and other inputs controlled in part by farm families and influenced by varying degrees of political, economic, institutional and social forces that operate at many levels. In other words it is defined as unique and reasonably stable arrangement of farm enterprises that the household manages according to its physical, biological, economic and socio-cultural environment in accordance with the household’s goals, preferences and resources. Conceptually it refers to a set of elements or components that are interrelated which interact among themselves. At the centre of the interaction is the farmer exercising control and choice regarding the type and result of interaction.
It is a resource management strategy to achieve economic and sustained production to meet diverse requirement of farm household while preserving resource base and maintaining a high level of environmental quality.
For example it represents integration of farm enterprises such as cropping systems, animal husbandry, fisheries, forestry, sericulture, poultry etc. for optimal utilization of resources bringing prosperity to the farmer. The farm products other than the economic products, for which the crops are grown, can be better utilized for productive purposes in the farming systems approach.
Principles of farming system
• Minimization of risk
• Recycling of wastes and residues
• Integration of two or more enterprises
• Optimum utilization of all resources
• Maximum productivity and profitability
• Ecological balance
• Generation of employment potential
• Increased input use efficiency
• Use of end products from one enterprise as input in other enterprise
Characteristics of farming system
• Farmer oriented & holistic approach
• Effective farmers participation
• Unique problem solving system
• Dynamic system
• Gender sensitive
• Responsible to society
• Environmental sustainability
• Location specificity of technology
• Diversified farming enterprises to avoid risks due to environmental constraints
• Provides feedback from farmers
Objectives of farming system
Productivity– Farming system provides on opportunity to increase economic yield per unit area per unit time by virtue of intensification of crop and allied enterprises. Time concept by crop intensification and space concept by building up of vertical dimension through crops and allied enterprises.
Profitability – The system as a whole provides an opportunity to make use of produce/waste material of one enterprise as an input in another enterprise at low/no cost. Thus by reducing the cost of production the profitability and benefit cost ratio works out to be high.
Potentiality – Soil health, a key factor for sustainability is getting deteriorated and polluted due to faulty agricultural management practices viz., excessive use of inorganic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, high intensity irrigation etc. In farming system, organic supplementation through effective use of manures and waste recycling is done, thus providing an opportunity to sustain potentiality of Production base for much longer time.
Balanced food– In farming system, diverse enterprises are involved and they produce different sources of nutrition namely proteins, carbohydrates, fats &minerals etc. form the same unit land, which helps in solving the malnutrition problem prevalent among the marginal and sub-marginal farming households.
Environmental safety– The very nature of farming system is to make use or conserve the by product/waste product of one component as input in another component and use of bio-control measures for pest &disease control. These eco-friendly practices bring down the application of huge quantities of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, which pollute the soil water and environment to an alarming level. Whereas IFS will greatly reduce environmental pollution.
Income/cash flow round the year– Unlike conventional single enterprise crop activity where the income is expected only at the time of disposal of economic produce after several months depending upon the duration of the crop, the IFS enables cash flow round the year by way of sale of products from different enterprises viz., eggs from poultry, milk from dairy, fish from fisheries, silkworm cocoons from sericulture, honey from apiculture etc. This not only enhances the purchasing power of the farmer but also provides an opportunity to invest in improved technologies for enhanced production.
Saving energy– Availability of fossil fuel has been declining at a rapid rate leading to a situation wherein the whole world may suffer for want of fossil fuel by 2030 AD. In farming system, effective recycling of organic wastes to generate energy from biogas plants can mitigate to certain extent this energy crisis.
Meeting fodder crises– In IFS every inch of land area is effectively utilized. Alley cropping or growing fodder legume along the border or water courses, intensification of cropping including fodder legumes in cropping systems helps to produce the required fodder and greatly relieve the problem of non-availability of fodder to livestock component of the Farming system.
Solving timber and fuel crises– The current production level of 20 million m3 of fuel wood and 11 Million m3 of timber wood is no match for the demand estimated or 360 m3 of fuel and 64.4 million m3 of timber wood in 2000 AD. Hence the current production needs to be stepped up several-fold. Afforestation programmes besides introduction of agro-forestry component in farming system without detrimental effect on crop yield will greatly reduce deforestation, preserving our natural ecosystem.
Employment generation– Various farm enterprises viz., crop +livestock or any other allied enterprise in the farming system would increase labour requirement significantly and would help solve the problem of under employment. An IFS provides enough scope to employ family labour round the year.
Scope for establishment of agro– industries– When once the produce from different components in IFS is increased to a commercial level there will be surplus for value addition in the region leading to the establishment of agro-industries.
Enhancement in input use efficiency – An IFS provides good scope for resource utilization in different components leading to greater input use efficiency and benefit- cost ratio.
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