Updated: Feb 8
What is integrated farming?
First of all, let me start with what is farming? Well, farming is any practice done on-farm be it a practice of poultry management, aquaculture, crop production, or anything else. Now it’s the turn of integrated farming. Integrated means to join the things and work together and so is the case with integrated farming. It means doing many activities simultaneously on land so as to minimize inputs outside the enterprise.
How is it different from mixed farming?
The two terms sound very similar yet possess some differences
In integrated farming the activities are interlinked for eg. the dung of livestock is used as manure for crops and crops are used as food for livestock while it is not so in mixed farming, all the activities practiced are separated. Thus in integrated farming sound ecology and sustainability are promoted and these are the missing elements in mixed farming. Integrated farming uses technical knowledge while mixed farming does not, it is done for subsistence.
It promotes three-dimensional developments namely economic development, social development, and ecological development.
Generate maximum profit through minimum waste.
Benefits of integrated farming
• Decreases farm input requirements
• Enhances soil fertility
• Maximizes profit
• Promotes ecology and sustainability
• Meets multiple requirements of farm
• Energy saving
• Year-round income
• More employment generation and so on
It can be broadly classified into agriculture-fish and livestock fish systems where agriculture itself includes many different combinations like horticulture, sericulture, floriculture, etc.
Agriculture-based systems include Rice-fish integration, Horticulture-fish system, Mushroom-fish system, etc. The Livestock-fish system includes the Cattle-fish system, Pig-fish system, Poultry-fish system, Duck-fish system, etc.
Important dairy cattle and buffalo include Murrah, Mehsana, Sahiwal, Jersey, etc. where daily requirement goes to 1 kg concentrate per 3 kg milk produced by cattle and 2 kg milk produced by buffaloes.
How is it practiced?
We in agriculture face the issue of very less earning as most of our money is spent in arranging for inputs thus to prevent this we have transitioned from monoculture to integrated biosystems or integrated farming systems. This ensures good productivity along with less cost and the least environmental hazards. Choosing the appropriate cropping methodology with mixed cropping, crop rotation, crop combination, and inter-cropping ensures less competition for nutrients and space; utilizing a multi-story arrangement for space efficiency and more interaction between biotic and abiotic forces and integrating subsystems for increasing overall farm productivity are its key features. It usually takes the time of three to four years to establish a well-integrated farm with market linkages. The biosystems are integrated based on the soil and climate of that area, population size and their choices, expected rise in population, the market there, etc. The new integrated practices include integrated nutrient management, integrated pest management, site-specific nutrient management, conservation technology, crop rotation, zero tillage, and so on.
Integrated aquaculture refers to the sequential practice of two or more activities of which one is aquaculture.
Integrated Agriculture and Aquaculture
It involves the direct use of crop and livestock wastes as well as the recycling of crop or manure-based nutrients which serve as fertilizers.
Practiced in areas where sufficient water is available and soils are suitably water retentive, the integration of aquaculture with agriculture could make a significant contribution to food supplies.
Its benefits include
Water efficiency is enhanced by raising fish in irrigation structures.
It helps in using the same land resource for obtaining both carbohydrates and animal protein.
Helps in pest control by omitting the use of chemicals and fertilizers.
Diversification of income-generating activities.
Aquatic Biodiversity conservation and sustainable use could be enhanced.
Rice fish farming is among the most famous approaches of agri-aquaculture.
Protect against the risk of bacterial infections.
Prevents invasion of fish muscle.
Improves soil fertility.
• The minimum retention time for fish in wastewater should be 8 to 10 days.
• Maintain fish in freshwater 10-12 hours after harvesting.
• Good hygiene first is maintained by fish gutting and adequate heating.
• Semi-intensive freshwater ponds usually have very less environmental effects.
It produces grain carbohydrate and animal protein on the same piece of land and renders additional financial gain besides the main crop (rice) like conventional monoculture. The aquatic species taken into the system are mainly distinct types of fishes, crustaceans, and other selected species. It is more popular in Asian countries than in western countries Asia.
Integrated Agriculture, Livestock culture and Aquaculture
Here the subsystems fish, crop, and livestock are linked to each other. The byproduct of one subsystem serves as a resource for the other two subsystems thus ensuring total utilization of farm resources resulting in maximum diversified output. Here, excreta and waste feed from livestock subsystem acts as manure for crop and feed for fish while the waste of crop can be used as feed for livestock and fishpond and so nutrient-rich pond water can be used as fertilizer for cropland. Thus all the three are beneficially linked to each other.
Bee, mustard and livestock culture
Honeybee helps in mustard pollination. In turn, this mustard is used as both crop, and part of it is used to feed livestock. The use of pesticides harms honeybees and declines their population, this sustainable practice is thus helpful in ensuring controlled use of pesticides use and thus promoting bees.
This symbiotic relationship involves the use of nutrient inputs to feed fishes and the water used for fish culture is used for evaporative cooling of poultry.
Goat, Poultry & Vermicompost System
Goat & poultry are reared in the same shed on different substrate levels, in such a way that, their droppings are accumulated in the lowest level, where earthworms are incorporated. Goat takes time to mature, so income can be generated from poultry till then, also obtaining vermicompost. This lowest level can also be replaced with a fish pond.
• It will help in lifting the economy of agriculture and the standard of living of the farmers of the country as a whole.
• Would help farmers utilize optimum resources in fulfilling maximum purposes along with earning profit.
• In case of an issue with an ecosystem others could help earn economy to the poor farmers.
• Stakeholders should make continuous efforts to build farmer capacities for the adoption of a productive, remunerative, eco-friendly, and self-sustaining integrated farming system.
The EU has not yet considered making regulations for integrated farming and so the quality labels and controlled mechanisms are handled by private organizations.
Other problems include high start-up costs and the resources obtained are sometimes less than the requirement.