Integrated Crop-Livestock Farming Systems: A Strategy for Resource Conservation and Environmental Sustainability

Vinod Gupta, Pradeep Kumar Rai and K.S. Risam


Conventional agriculture is known to cause soil and pasture degradation because it involves intensive tillage, in particular if practised in areas of marginal productivity. An integrated crop-livestock farming system represents a key solution for enhancing livestock production and safeguarding the environment through prudent and efficient resource use. The increasing pressure on land and the growing demand for livestock products makes it more and more important to ensure the effective use of feed resources, including crop residues. 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 is the 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. The waste products of one component serve as a resource for the other. For example, manure is used to enhance crop production; crop residues and by-products feed the animals, supplementing often inadequate feed supplies, thus contributing to improved animal nutrition and productivity. Integrating crops and livestock serves primarily to minimize risk and not to recycle resources. In an integrated system, crops and livestock interact to create a synergy, with recycling allowing the maximum use of available resources. Crop residues can be used for animal feed, while livestock and livestock by-product production and processing can enhance agricultural productivity by intensifying nutrients that improve soil fertility, reducing the use of chemical fertilizers. A high integration of crops and livestock is often considered as a step forward, but small farmers need to have sufficient access to knowledge, assets and inputs to manage this system in a way that is economically and environmentally sustainable over the long term

Keyword: Integrated farming system

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