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 are struggling
to deal with these issues and also have to contend with the dual burden
of climate change and globalization.
It has been accepted by
decision makers across the globe that sustainable development is the
only way to promote rational utilization of resources and environmental
protection without hampering economic growth. Different countries around
the world are promoting sustainable development through sustainable
agricultural practices which will help them in addressing socio-economic
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.
Components of integration in a
farming system are parkland systems, trees on bunds, wind breaks, silvi-pasture
system, agro-horticulture system, block plantations, economic shrubs,
live fences, crops with green leaf manure species (mixed/intercrops),
integrated animal based systems (fisheries, dairy, piggery, small
ruminants, poultry, apiary).
This write up enumerates some
examples of the integrated farming systems being practiced in Asian
Case Study 1: Bio-diverse Multi-tier System
Rainfed agriculture is being
adversely affected by four-fold problems of land degradation,
degeneration of bio-diversity due to open grazing, climate change, and
poverty driven over utilization of natural resources. All these problems
together lead to increasing challenges for sustainability of dryland
These problems can be reversed,
stopped, or at least reduced by adopting economy driven enterprises
within the farming system and thus farmers can have higher and staggered
income from the small land holding. A bio-diverse multi-tier system of
farming, a kind of integrated cropping system, can thus be the answer.
This system envisages a coupling of multipurpose trees, horticultural
plants, health herbs, food/ oilseeds/ pulses, etc., with livestock
rearing. The tangible benefit from this system could be the efficient
nutrient and hydrological cycling, which can impart resilience by
building soil quality with time. The staggered income is envisaged from
the annual crops and livestock periodically from the horticultural
plants of short duration species on long duration from woody species and
from the bi/tri annual species and others in the system.
Over a period of time farming
systems have evolved in semiarid tropics to suit the requirements for
maintaining soil fertility and production related issues. The soil and
water conservation measures coupled with vegetative cover on the
agricultural lands can provide fodder and fuel, shade and shelter, wind
break effect through vegetative barriers, sustain livestock etc., in
order to provide livelihood security to the farmers.
Case Study 2: Crop- Livestock- Fish Farming
Asia has been the cradle of
integrated crop-livestock-fish farming systems, which have evolved since
the inception of human civilization particularly when human settlements
started moving inland leaving the river banks. Though there are several
successful practices of integrated fish farming in Asian countries
including India, the system of farming using synergizing scientific
integration of agriculture, aquaculture and livestock farming are not
yet wide-spread in the region. Further, large-scale integration of carp
culture with irrigation and sewage utilization are to be viewed
seriously both for economic and ecological reasons (Sinha, 1979).
The wet land of paddy-field is
congenial to many fish both for spawning and for pasture. Those breeding
in paddy fields have adhesive eggs and are normally laid on green plants
to facilitate more oxygen for developing embryo whereas shallow water
spawners and the nest builders get favourable conditions of breeding in
paddy fields. The flooded field has considerable quantities of
putrifying plants giving rise to enormous amount of plankton and in fact
serves as a richly laid table for fry and fingerlings. The fish while
controlling the excessive growth of plankton, which compete with the
paddy, also control zootecton, insects, molluscs, the submerged and
floating weeds harbouring the above and adversely affecting paddy. Fish
fertilize through its fecal matter and also overturns the submerged soil
normally under reduced stage thus making available more nutrient and
oxygen to the root of paddy, acting like a biological plough (Sinha,
Evolved on the principles of
productive recycling of farm wastes, fish- livestock farming systems are
recognized as highly assured technologies for fish cultivation. In these
technologies, predetermined quantum of livestock waste obtained by
rearing the livestock in the pond area is applied in pond to raise the
fish crop without any other additional supply of nutrients. Similarly,
with the integrated poultry - fish farming system, the fish crop is
integrated using only poultry droppings or dip litter by rearing the
poultry either directly over the pond or on the pond embankment.
Case Study 3: Dyke-Pond Systems
In many parts of Asia, the
productive use of land and water resources has been integrated by
transforming wetlands into ponds separated by cultivable ridges. Overall
integrated farming systems that include semi-intensive aquaculture are
less risky for the resource-poor farmer than intensive fish farms,
because of their efficiency derived from synergism, their diversity of
produce, and their environmental soundness. In many traditional systems
aquaculture goes beyond fish production and cash income as pond water
and pond biota perform many ecological, social, and cultural services on
an integrated farm. Thus aquaculture and water management act as an
engine driving the sustainability of the entire farming system
An example of integrated
agriculture–aquaculture system is the dyke-pond system, which has
existed for centuries in South China. The history of the dyke-pond
system may be traced back to the middle of the ninth century in the
Pearl River delta region of China.
The dyke - pond system serves
two major functions: (a) achievement of a general ecosystem balance
through the harmonization of well-coordinated activities and functions
embedded in the ecosystem, and (b) transformation and regeneration of
organic substances based on a multi-layer trophic eco-system structure,
which helps contribute successfully to sustainable economic development.
The system contains two interrelated systems of dyke and pond; the dyke
is the land ecosystem for the growth of crop whereas the pond is the
water ecosystem, consisting of fish and aquatic plants. The dyke-pond
system can be of various kinds depending on the crops planted on the
dyke such as mulberry dyke-fishpond, sugar cane dyke-fishpond, banana
dyke-fishpond, and so on. The input and output of material and energy in
the dyke-pond system are basically balanced. (Ruddle & Chung, 1988 and
Experience showed that the
economic return from the integrated mulberry dyke-fish pond system were
greater than those obtained from cultivating fruit trees or rice on the
dyke. It was found that such integrated management is beneficial to
mulberry and fish, as well as for development of sericulture. Moreover,
pond mud enriched with silkworm excrement and other wastes can be used
to fertilize the pond and feed the fish. Mulberry leaves are fed to the
silkworms, whose excreta are used as fish food, and the fertile pond
mud, consisting of fish excreta, organic matter, and chemical elements,
is brought up from the bottom and used as manure for the mulberry trees.
In this system, the mulberry
tree represents the first trophic level. Photosynthesis takes place in
its leaves, which are fed to the silkworms for yarn production (the
primary consumers) whose excreta and chrysalises are in turn fed to fish
(the secondary consumers). The aquatic organisms in the pond are the
reduction agents that decompose fish excreta and algae, break down the
organic matter in the pond, and produce nitrogen, phosphorus, and
potassium. The pond supplies the dyke with the fertile mud, which after
decomposition is used as a primary source of fertilizer for the mulberry
Moreover, the leaf fodder of
mulberry is reported to be rich in crude protein, ether extract,
calcium, ascorbic acid, potassium, iron and thus can be profitably
utilized as a supplement to poor quality roughages (Singh and Harinder).
Mulberry leaves can also be used in poultry ration. Incorporation of
shade dried mulberry leaves in layer’s mash to the extent of 6 per cent
showed an increase in egg production with desirable yolk colour without
any adverse effect on body weight and egg quality (Narayana & Setty,
1977). Mulberry leaves, owing to their high carotene content, can form a
valuable source of vitamin A for the health of poultry birds and
increased egg production.
In India such integrated
systems have not been systematically evolved so far, however in many
places, the pond mud is used for terrestrial crop and pond embankment
for papaya, coconut, banana plantation and at times for growing
Further research and field
demonstrations are required to develop suitable models for efficient
integrated farming systems relevant to the specific region. For
technology transfer and making farmers aware about the technology
capacity building trainings and appropriate communication strategy is
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