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Farming Systems

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Farming Systems - Lesson Summary

The farming system has three components: Input, Process and Output. The inputs to a farming system include seeds, fertilisers, machinery and labour while the outputs of farming are crops, wool, dairy and poultry products. The outputs are obtained by processing activities, like tilling, sowing, irrigating, weeding and harvesting, or breeding in case of an animal farm.

There are two types of farming:Subsistence farming and Commercial farming. Subsistence farming is carried out at a low scale for a small output while commercial farming involves activities on a larger scale and yields a much larger produce.

Subsistence farming mostly serves to meet the requirements of the farmer and his family while commercial farming, the crops grown and the animals reared are sold in the market. The technology used in subsistence farming is very low-end, and most of the labour is manual whereas in commercial farming, minimal manual labour is involved and machines do most of the work.

Subsistence farming can be further classified into two types: Intensive subsistence farming and Primitive subsistence farming.

In intensive subsistence farming, farmers use simple tools, such as spades and ploughs, and manual labour to cultivate a small plot of land. Intensive subsistence farming is practiced in areas having fertile soil and receiving plenty of sunshine throughout the year. For example, it is practiced in the tropical and sub-tropical areas of West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.

Intensive subsistence farming is practised by farmers in the monsoon regions of south, southeast and east Asia. It is more common in the thickly populated areas in these regions. Rice is the main crop grown through intensive farming in addition to wheat, maize, pulses and oilseeds on the same plot of land.

Primitive subsistence farming can be further classified into: Shifting cultivation and Nomadic herding.
In shifting cultivation farmers temporarily use a plot of land for cultivation and then abandon it when the soil loses its fertility. This farming system is common in areas where the rainfall is heavy and the vegetation can regenerate rapidly. It is practiced in the dense forest areas of north-east India, parts of south-east Asia, tropical Africa and the Amazon basin.

This type of farming is also known as slash and burn agriculture owing to the process. The crops grown here are maize, yam, potatoes and cassava.

Nomadic herding is a form of animal farming where herdsmen move from one place to another with their animals, fodder and water, following defined routes. It is practiced in semi-arid and arid areas like Rajasthan, and Jammu and Kashmir Sahara and Central Asia.
The nomads rear sheeps, goats, camels and yaks and these animals provide milk, meat, wool, hides to the herdsmen.

Commercial farming is of three types: Commercial grain farming, Mixed farming and Plantations. Commercial grain farming, is the cultivation of crops for commercial purposes where crops are grown for sale in the market. This type of farming is common in the sparsely populated areas of the temperate grasslands of North America, Europe and Asia. The main crops grown are wheat and maize.

In mixed farming, the same plot of land is used for cultivating crops and rearing livestock. Farmers cultivate food crops like rice and wheat, and fodder crops like barley and grass. This type of farming is common in Europe, parts of eastern USA, Argentina, southeast Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Plantation refers to large farms or estates growing a single crop for commercial usage. This type requires a large amount of labour, and capital investment in building an extensive transportation network. Plantations involve the cultivation of crops like tea, sugarcane and rubber for supply to agro-based industries as raw material.

The produce from these plantations, like tea leaves and rubber latex, are processed to produce market-ready output, i.e. tea and rubber sheets. Plantations are common in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world, like India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Brazil.


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