An integrated farming system (IFS) is a multi-farming system that combines the use of high-quality organic food and renewable energy. Its main objective is to reduce pollution and increase income by integrating many different farming practices. For example, we can discuss the use of animals to plow fields. Pigs are able to dig up the soil and animal manure (like cow waste) can be used to fertilize crops and increase the harvest.
Based on the International Organization for Biological Control (IOBC), Integrative Farming is a farming system that employs sustainable agricultural practices such as using natural resources such as soil, water, air, and nature, as well as regulating factors to farm sustainably with as little pollution as possible.
Achieving sustainability involved reducing tillage frequency and intensity; no moldboard plough was utilized. In Scheyern, harrowing and chiseling were the preferred methods. Large tires and combinations minimized compaction of the soil and erosion; cover crops, wheat, and maize stubble mulched the soil surface to protect it and enhance soil faunal and microbial activity. Direct and no-till planting in the mulch of the previous crop or cover crop was used to reduce tillage and leaching. Plant varieties with a high ability to compete for nutrients, water, and light reduced leaching. Crop varieties with adequate resistance to most common diseases were chosen. Fertilization strategies were designed to match the plants’ needs, and pesticides were used to prevent pests from occurring (pest threshold principle).
Particular emphasis is placed on an integrated management approach that considers the whole Bio farm as a whole, upon agro-ecosystems as a whole, upon nutrient cycles that are balanced and coupled with the demand of crops, and on the health of all livestock. Preserving and enhancing soil fertility, maintaining an environment that is diverse, and adhering to ethical and social standards are integral to basic elements. Biological, technical, and chemical methods are taken into account when crop protection is conducted, with all of these methods being carefully balanced in order to protect the environment, maintain profitability, and meet social needs.
Another important factor to consider is the use of water-based systems that improve the effective use of nutrients and fuel. Aquaculture combines fish farming with livestock care and the production of vegetables. A number of successful cases of farmers integrating fish and duck rearings in ponds have been reported; the feeding cost for ducks is automatically reduced. The ducks, in turn, provide the water with quality manure that fishes appreciate. They also keep the water free from insects, weeds, and snails that may hurt fish.
Pig manure creates a favorable environment for the reproduction of fish, and it adds useful nutrients to the soil in order to increase fish production. Farmers can also combine fish and pig farming. Several species of animals are very beneficial for fertilization in ponds, including pigs and cows. Many animals produce helpful enzymes that don’t lose nutrients upon defecation.
An integrated farming system was establsihed on 46 ha planted in well-buffered soil. The arable land (30 ha) was cultivated in 4 different crop rotations, which were: (1) winter wheat; (2) potatoes; (3) winter wheat; and (4) maize. In addition to the remaining land, there were 1.8 ha of grassland and 8.8 ha of fallow land. Potatoes and wheat were grown for revenue; maize was used for feed for 45 fattening bulls living on neighbouring farms.
The main principle in all cases is the economy of waste-free production. It sounds reasonable and profitable, but let’s review its advantages and disadvantages in detail.
A system of integrated farming will bring in a steady flow of income. This means that within a year it will be possible to make income from different agricultural segments with separate seasons. It is important to select the ideal areas and tools for work so there is no idle time and periods of inactivity.
Advantages of Integrated Farming System
#1. The adoption of such farming systems ensures an increase in production to meet various economic needs.
#2. Intensification of crops growth boosts profits in relation to area, time, and effort.
#3. The soil remains fertile for a long time due to the correct use of organic waste. Most of the waste is converted, has a value, and is used within the framework of the integrated system.
#4. The integrated farming system ensures a steady income. In other words, within a year we can earn constant profits from different agricultural sectors at different seasons. The key is to pick the right spheres of work so there are no idle periods or periods without income.
#5. By using by-products, the system is able to maintain its stability. The potential of the soil for economic development is preserved.
#6. You can produce all kinds of healthy foods on a single farm; they are all enriched fully with various useful components that the body needs.
#7. These methods of improving agricultural production are entirely safe and environmentally sound. The amount of waste is minimized. In such a setting, there is minimal decaying waste and pollution compared to other production methods. Chemical fertilizers and pest control agents are not needed in excess, so the water, soil, and air remain clean.
#8. IFS presents an opportunity for developing the agro-industrial sector and diversifying national production. These types of farming systems are a promising foundation for developing new progressive technology that will allow for a safer and more profitable farming system in the future. Many modern farmers depend on technologies and seek advancements in them, but the high costs for them prevent them from trying new ways of gaining profits.
#9. It is possible to use alternative sources of energy, reducing dependence on mineral resources. An efficient way of using organic substances is to produce biogas. With this, the crisis in the energy sector could be delayed.
#10. When all land plots are used rationally, food is always available for livestock.
#11. Jobs will be created, reducing the problem of unemployment; human labor will be needed throughout the year.
#12. If a farmer operates in more than one industry and one of them develops rapidly, the others will also grow as well.
Disadvantages Of Integrated Farming System
- High risk of the spread of zoonotic diseases
- It is expensive to set up
- It requires high input
- It cannot be practiced in smallholder farms