Integrated crop livestock farming systems
Author: Neeshu Joshi
Ph.D. Scholar, Department of Agronomy, College of Agriculture, G.B. Pant University Agriculture & Technology, Pantnagar, U.S. Nagar, Uttarakhand (263 145) India
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In recent years, food security, livelihood security, water security as well as natural resources conservation and environment protection have emerged as major issues worldwide. Developing countries struggling to deal with these issues and also have to contend with the dual burden of climate change and globalization. Developing countries around the world are promoting sustainable development through sustainable agricultural practices which will help them in addressing socioeconomic as well as environmental issues simultaneously. Within the broad concept of sustainable agriculture “Integrated Farming Systems” hold special position as in this system nothing is wasted, the byproduct of one system becomes the input for other. Integrated farming is an integrated approach to farming as compared to existing monoculture approaches. It refers to agricultural systems that integrate livestock and crop production. Moreover, the system help poor small farmers, who have very small land holding for crop production and a few heads of livestock to diversify farm production, increase cash income, improve quality and quantity of food produced and exploitation of unutilized resources.

An integrated farming system consists of a range of resource-saving practices that aim to achieve acceptable profits and high and sustained production levels, while minimizing the negative effects of intensive farming and preserving the environment. Based on the principle of enhancing natural biological processes above and below the ground, the integrated system represents a winning combination that

(a) Reduces erosion;

(b) Increases crop yields, soil biological activity and nutrient recycling;

(c) Intensifies land use, improving profits; and

(d) Can therefore help reduce poverty and malnutrition and strengthen environmental sustainability.

Livestock and crop production systems are an integral part of one another. Crop residues provide fodder for livestock while, occasionally, grain provides supplementary feed for productive animals. Animals improve soil fertility through manure and urine deposition and animal power for farm operations and transport. Sale of animals sometimes provides cash for farm labor and agricultural inputs.

Key principles :

Cyclic. The farming system is essentially cyclic (organic resources – livestock – land – crops). Therefore, management decisions related to one component may affect the others.

Rational. Using crop residues more rationally is an important route out of poverty. For resource-poor farmers, the correct management of crop residues, together with an optimal allocation of scarce resources, leads to sustainable production.

Ecologically sustainable. Combining ecological sustainability and economic viability, the integrated livestock-farming system maintains and improves agricultural productivity while also reducing negative environmental impacts.


• Agronomic, through the retrieval and maintenance of the soil productive capacity;

• Economic, through product diversification and higher yields and quality at less cost;

• Ecological, through the reduction of crop pests (less pesticide use and better soil erosion control); and

• Social, through the reduction of rural urban migration and the creation of new job opportunities in rural areas.

• It is quick, efficient and economically viable because grain crops can be produced in four to six months, and pasture formation after cropping is rapid and inexpensive.

• It helps increase profits by reducing production costs. Poor farmers can use fertilizer from livestock operations, especially when rising petroleum prices make chemical fertilizers unaffordable.

• It results in greater soil water storage capacity, mainly because of biological aeration and the increase in the level of organic matter.

• It provides diversified income sources, guaranteeing a buffer against trade, price and climate fluctuations.


• Nutritional values of crop residues are generally low in digestibility and protein content.

• Crop residues are primarily soil regenerators, but too often they are either disregarded or misapplied.

• Intensive recycling can cause nutrient losses.

• If manure nutrient use efficiencies are not improved or properly applied, the import of production and transportation, and the surpluses lost in the environment.

• Farmers prefer to use chemical fertilizer instead of manure because it acts faster and is easier to use.


• Develop strategies and promote crop livestock synergies and interactions that aim to

(a) Integrate crops and livestock effectively with careful land use;

(b) Raise the productivity of specific mixed croplivestock systems;

(c) Facilitate expansion of food production; and

(d) Simultaneously safeguard the environment with prudent and efficient use of natural resources.

• Devise measures (for instance, facilitating largescale dissemination of bio-digesters) to implement a more efficient use of biomass, reducing pressures on natural resources; and develop a sustainable livestock manure management system to control environmental losses and contaminant spreading.


Sustainable development is the only way to promote rational utilization of resources and environmental protection without hampering economic growth and integrated Farming Systems hold special position as in this system nothing is wasted, the by-product of one system becomes the input for other. India has a considerable livestock, poultry population and crop wastes. All efforts have to be mobilised to reclaim the resources and to put them to use effectively.

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