Do you ever stroll through a farmer’s market and marvel at the exquisite natural bounty that those farmers provide? Ever driven past a farm whose fields were so vast that you couldn’t see where they ended? There are tools and techniques to working so much land efficiently.
The methodologies that farmers use to provide optimal conditions in which their crops and animals can flourish are important to their success. In the long history of farming, folks have continuously strived for high production using fewer materials and producing less waste. Integrated farming systems strive to accomplish this.
What Is an Integrated Farming System (IFS)?
Integrated farming is a method of viewing the farm in a holistic sense, identifying and connecting relationships between the farm’s systems. It aims to function as dynamically as possible while leaving the smallest negative ecological footprint possible. A benefit for farmers includes producing better crops while saving themselves money.
Stefan Soloviev, and his Crossroads Agriculture company, employ integrated farming techniques, such as annual crop rotation with minimal tilling. Leaving a portion of the farm to lie fallow is an important sustainable technique because it allows the land to rest and restore its nutrients, and thus creating better conditions for the next crop that will be planted.
A major component of integrated farming is the process of utilizing potential waste from one of the farm’s systems as a type of fuel for another system. For instance, animals on the farm might be fed using leaves, stocks or other extraneous, otherwise unused elements of crops.
What Are the Benefits of Integrated Farming?
Besides the benefits of crop rotation, there are lots of other benefits to integrated farming techniques. By cutting back on the application of pesticides, and by utilizing organic fertilizers, cover crops and crop rotation, farms use less energy and produce less harmful greenhouse gasses.
An integrated farming approach could provide relief from the problems associated with the application of herbicides. Whereas plants can undergo a biological response that allows them to grow despite the effects of herbicides, incorporating an integrated weed management system can greatly reduce herbicide use while producing profitable crops.
If there is a way to farm without subjecting crops to harmful pesticides or other negative agents while still achieving maximum growth potential, integrated farming is on it. Farms that utilize IFS so that the world gets better farm products with less detriment to the crops, the animals, the community and the world.
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