[Model Answer QP2022 GS3] What is an Integrated Farming System? How is it helpful to small and marginal farmers in India?

Integrated farming means combining crop production with livestock management that complement each other in a way that enjoys the benefits of -symbiotic relationship. 
In the integrated farming system, agriculture can be integrated with livestock, poultry, and fish which are all kept in one place to create year round employment and additional income. 

Integrated farming system when agriculture was jointly performed with animal husbandry the land, water and plant was fully utilised.

For example, keep poultry in the upper layer and utilise their excreta. Pigs are in the lower layer, residual water from the pond was utilised for Agriculture and fodder crops production. In a lot of villages coconut gardens are intercropped with fodder and allow the livestock and country hens to graze the pasture. The excreta can be recycled as manure for garden as well as forage crops is called integrated farming.

Integrated Farming System helpful to small and marginal farmers in India

  1. In our country, more than 80 % farmers having a hectare or less than a hectare agriculture practised with animal husbandry not only gives additional income and employment opportunity to the family members around the year and also livestock excreta utilised as manures lowered the cost of fertilisers
  2. Additional yields from crops at lower initial investment. Makes it less capital intensive. 
  3. Soil fertility was protected. Reduces the need to use chemical fertilisers. Also, Weeds, non-beneficial plants and sedges growth were restricted.This reduces the usage of pesticides and weedicides. 
  4. Crop residues used as livestock feed will reduce the feed cost.
  5. Small farmers owning one hectare of land could allocate 0.8 hectares of land for agriculture, and 0.2 hectares of land for fodder production with modern technologies and if followed crop rotation, the returns from agriculture, milk and meat were high and realised more income.

In an integrated farming system, production of Azolla can be utilised for fodder and also as organic fertiliser. In addition to this, Azolla has become a non chemical fertiliser based alternate fodder. Hence, it is suited to all livestocks. This can be used as protein rich feed there by we can reduce the production cost.

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