Integrated farming (also known as mixed farming) is a farming system with simultaneous activities involving crop and animal. The main purpose of integrated farming is so that the farming components support one another; hence, reducing external inputs.
For instance, the crop can provide as animal feed/fodder for the livestock, and the livestock as fertilizer (manure) for the crop. Some livestock can also act as weed control by foraging on the weeds.
A very good example of a successful integrated farming system is the CIPAV system, developed by the Foundation Center for the Investigation in Sustainable Systems of Agricultural Production (CIPAV). This system typifies the success of integrating and using local natural resources to produce several commodities.
The system consists of the simultaneous cultivation of sugar cane, food crops (like corn or rice) and tree fodder (trees or shrubs used for animal feed), together with the raising of sheep, pigs, ducks and fish.
The system works by minimising external inputs so that each component in the CIPAV system sustains one another. Essentially, the crop residues serve as feed to the livestock and fish, and in turn, the wastes from the livestock and fish serve as fertiliser to the crops.
Moreover, their wastes, together with crop residues, are digested in a biodigester to produce fuel for household cooking and electricity.
This mixed farming system recycles all wastes so that little is thrown away: one’s waste is indeed another’s food.
This system reduces dependency on fossil fuels because of its self-sufficient system means little external input is required; in fact, by being able to generate its own fuel from wastes means even less dependency on fossil fuels.
Another example of integrated farming systems is rice-fish culture (in Thailand, China, and Viet Nam)
Integrated farming is a commonly and broadly used word to explain a more integrated approach to farming as compared to existing monoculture approaches. It refers to agricultural systems that integrate livestock and crop production and may sometimes be known as Integrated Biosystems. For example using pigs to plough fields.