In recent decades, diverse issues concerning food security, environmental protection, water scarcity, conservation of natural resources and maintaining livelihoods have come into the forefront in major societies especially in the agricultural sector. Many experts around the globe feel that sustainable development is the only ideal solution in encouraging rational utilization of resources while protecting the environment without having to obstruct economic development. In this context, the concept of integrated farming is gaining prominence in many parts of the world as in this system of agriculture nothing goes to waste because the byproduct of one method becomes the input of another.
According to Geoffrey Morell, a reputed agriculturist and co-owner of P.A. Bowen Farmstead explains that integrated farming is a coherent agricultural practice in comparison to the concept of factory farming that combine crop and livestock production. The system enables small and marginal farmers with minute land holdings and livestock heads to expand their farming production, enhance their monetary income, improve the quantity of their food production and exploit unutilized resources. In fact, this farming expert has been successful in reorganizing and transforming agricultural practices that he adopts in his 95-acre farm via integrated farming method and believes in feeding his livestock organically.
He advocates that integrated farming methods have the following advantages over convention farming approaches like factory farming:
Integrated farming practices provide a unique opportunity of small farmers to enhance their economic yield per unit area with a certain time by virtue of intensifying crop production in addition to allied enterprises.
Under this agricultural approach, it is possible to use waste material of one component at minimum cost. This reduces the production cost, forms a linkage for utilizing waste products and eliminates the intermediary’s interference in input that the farmers use the most.
- Environmentally safe
Under the integrated farming approach, it is possible to recycle waste material efficiently by linking appropriate components and minimizes environmental pollution.
- Saves Energy
Under this agricultural approach, farmers employ effective techniques to recycle organic waste materials that this method of farming generates to produce biogas. This is convenient alternative to world’s dependence on fossil fuels to generate energy and is instrumental in protecting the planet.
- Employment Opportunities
Integrated farming combines crop production with livestock enterprise that increases the need for skilled labor in the agricultural sector significantly and reduces the problem of unemployment in addition to underemployment considerably.
- Meeting fodder crisis
Under this agricultural practice, it is possible to utilize every piece of land effectively. The practice of planting perennial legume fodder trees near farm’s borders and fixing nitrogen in the atmosphere goes a long way in addressing the problem of non-availability of quality fodder for livestock.
- Development of Agro industries
When it is possible to enhance the produce of an integrated farm to a commercial level, the surplus can lead to the development of lucrative agro-based industries.
Geoffrey Morell says that in a world that is looking for effective solutions to the problems of sustainable development, environment protection, food security and economic growth, integrated farming is a viable option.