Types of farming systems

The different types of farming systems are practiced as a matter of necessity. Major factors that influence to follow different farming systems are the availability of labor, capital, water, land, climate, and landscape.

Below are the types of farming systems followed all over the world :

  1. Subsistence Farming
  2. Irrigation Farming
  3. Shifting Farming
  4. Plantation Farming
  5. Intensive farming
  6. Mixed farming
  7. Crop rotation
  8. Terrace farming
  9. Dairy farming
  10. Aquaponics
  11. Aeroponics
  12. Hydroponics

1. Subsistence farming

The subsistence farming system is followed majorly by small farming families.  Farmers own small pieces of scattered land. Usually, the focus on growing food is to feed the entire family.

Most people follow the concepts of Natural Farming. The traditional farming practices are used here,  no hybrid seeds nor addition of the chemical(fertilizers or pesticides) are used. Most of the work is done manually. The production will not be high.

The whole family will be helping with farming activities. Planning of plants will be done keeping what family will be needed in the future. A self-sufficient farming system where everything is available inside the farm nothing is brought from outside.

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drip irrigation learn Natural Farming

2. Irrigation Farming

Irrigation Farming system is done in the places where the irrigation system is set up. Most of the farming is done using water from rivers, reservoirs, wells.

But now the water scarcity is more, so people are using drip irrigation to reduce the overuse of water. Even though this setup is good, it’s expensive for small-scale farmers to set up. The government is providing subsidies to reduce the costs.  Places where water is too scarce, rain is the only option for irrigation.

Water is very critical for plant growth. Older Irrigation systems are not the right choice going forward. If we need to mimic nature, we should start increasing humus content in the soil. Humus will retain water for longer periods and also absorbs moisture from the atmosphere.

3. Shifting Farming

Shifting Farming was greatly followed by the nomadic tribe. Farming where part of the forest is cleared out to make a plot of land. Go ahead with cultivation for a few years until the crop yield declines.

The crop yield declines due to the same crop being rotated or any pest infestation. Once the yield is declined, the land is deserted and moved to a new patch of land. The tribe will return back to old land maybe after a few years, once the land is again grown like a forest. A similar process is followed.

The shifting Farming system is stopped long back due to its adverse effects. The decline of the forest region is a major drawback, and also native animal species have vanished.

4. Plantation Farming

Plantation Farming is the cultivation of single commercial crops on a large scale. This requires a lot of machinery, more investment in chemical fertilizers/pesticides. Since this being mono-crop farming system pest infestation will be on at large scale, so a lot of pesticides to be used.

Some of the plantations are coffee, tea, Coconut, palm. The estates will be huge sometime 1000 acres of lands are cleared to do plantation. In India, during British rule, lots of forests on the hill slopes are cleared to create coffee and tea plantation estate. Most of these farms have their own processing units in them. Even the labors stay inside the estate. The estate will be mini-village, with all the amenities to the workers.

Paddy learn Natural Farming
Paddy learn Natural Farming

5.Intensive farming

Intensive farming is when the farmers yield more than normal from their piece of land. Here a lot of machinery and chemicals are used to produce more yield. Even hybrid seeds are used to reduce the yield cycle and increase production. Mainly commercial produce is grown in order to improve the income.

Mixed farming is a norm and following from ages. Families used to depend on the production of the farm alone. What gave way is to raise livestock along with crops. When both the growing of crops and raising of livestock gave them extra benefits, it became normal. Indian farmers generally have at least one cow along with their crop farm.

Animals are rare mainly for milk and meat. The mixed farm will contain cattle, sheep, pigs or poultry along with crops. The symbiotic relationship between livestock and crops is much that the dung from cattle is used as a natural fertilizer to the crops. Also, the bullocks are used for pulling carts and plowing in fields.

6. Crop rotation farming

The crop rotation farming system is well known in all parts of India. Most of the small-scale farmers still follow this. Crop rotation is a practice where the different crops are grown in different seasons.

The purpose of crop rotation is to make the soil fertile again. Growing the same crop in the same place will deplete the nutrients. In order to avoid this, a crop that takes certain nutrients will be followed by a different plant that will give that nutrient back to the soil is planted.

Crop rotation requires a lot of knowledge on what plants to be selected and when to be selected. A well knowledgeable farmer will have no problem is the following. In this farming system, fertilizers and pesticides are rarely used. So chemical farming is not supported by these farmers most of the time.

Terrace farming
Terrace farming

7. Terrace farming

Terrace farming systems can be seen mostly in the Philippines. The rice terraces of the Philippines is a world heritage site. Terrace farming consists of different steps that are done on the slopes of hills.

Terrace creation is done to prevent soil erosion in the hill slopes also conserves nutrients in the soil. Hillside farming is a risk as it may get washed away due to heavy rains. The terrace will act like breaks for the rainwater.

8. Dairy farming

The dairy farming system is only followed to produce milk in large quantities. From milk production to milk processing every comes under dairy farming. Farmers with few cows will give their milk to the nearest collection points. Milk storage, processing, transportation, and delivery is a big challenge to any small-scale farmer. So all these tasks will be taken care of by big milk unions.

Dairy is a dairy commodity where everyone is attached to. Every household is dependent on dairy. The milk should be fresh, so a lot of processing done along with keeping nutrient balance.

9. Aquaponics farming

The aquaponics farming system is a combination of growing fish and plants together. Both fish and plants work in a symbiotic way to help each other grow and nourish. The excretions from the fish will make the water toxic. But when the same water is pumped to plants then it breaks down to get nutrients and purifies the water. Even here the soil is not used. Microbes play an important role in the conversion of nitrites to nitrates.

The complexity involved and the plants that can be grown here is a challenging subject to handle. Upon proper training one can really follow the Aquaponics. Dealing with fish is always sensitive. Water utilization is reduced by 80% when compared to regular farming practices, as water is purified and recycled.

10. Aeroponics farming

Aeroponics farming system is mostly following in urban structures. The plants are grown by using mist and without a soil medium. The essential nutrients are added to the water. The water is then sprayed in the form of a mist to the roots of the plant. Usually, herbs are grown using the aeroponic farming system.

Since farming is done in a controlled environment, diseases can be controlled too. Most of the time it’s disease-free cultivation. Requires capital to start aquaponics farm. normally these are done inside the cities or close to urban areas inside a huge building as it does require any growing medium. Vertical farming or stack farming is usually followed.

11. Hydroponics farming

The hydroponics farming system is mainly using water. Water with mineral-rich nutrients helps plants to grow. Even here the soil is not used, gravel can be used. A commercial fertilizer solution is used to mix in the water. Normally salad greens are grown. The tubers can’t be grown since the roots will be immersed in the water, the tubes get decayed.

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