A farming system is an established way to operate a piece of land to raise crops, livestock or both and includes everything done on the farm and outside the farm related to farm operations.
The classification of farming systems is based on 2 main principles
(1) Available natural resources – includes land, water resources, climate, grazing areas etc.
(2) The dominant pattern of farm and household activities – such as crops, aquaculture, livestock, forestry, processing and off-farm activities etc.
There are many ways to categorize farming systems;
a) extensive and intensive farming systems
b) subsistence and commercial farming systems
c) dry and irrigated farming systems
d) individual and multiple farming systems
e) arable farming, livestock rearing, and mixed farming
THE CHOICE OF FARMING SYSTEMS IN PAKISTAN
1) SOIL – factors of soil including, texture, depth, slope, erosion, pH, fertility, mineral nutrients, alkalinity, salinity, acidity, drainage etc.
2) CLIMATE – temperature, precipitation, irrigation, solar radiations and photoperiod, humidity, winds, storms, air pollutants etc.
3) RESOURCES – factors like capital, labor, seed, fertilizers, insecticides, farm machinery, technology, storage facilities etc.
4) CAPABILITIES OF PLANTS AND ANIMALS – the genetic potentials and production of the selected animals and plants in relation to the selected place for setting up the farm
5) ECOLOGY – crops, pests, trees, animals, weeds, and diseases etc of the selected location for setting up the farm.
6) SOCIAL, POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC FACTORS – markets, agro-based industry in the vicinity, consumer choice, demand, farm inputs and output prices, transportation, etc.
KINDS OF FARMING SYSTEMS
There are many different types of farming systems in the world based upon the above-described classification criteria. A few important kinds are briefed here;
i) ARABLE FARMING
A farming system which includes the production of only crops in the field and the related farm operation of cultural practices, harvesting, storage, transportation, and marketing. It includes many different types of cropping systems.
ii) LIVESTOCK FARMING (PASTORAL FARMING SYSTEM)
The rearing of animals at farm for production of meat, milk, and eggs and related farm operation of management like purchase of farm inputs, vaccination schemes and transport of the products to the market
iii) POULTRY FARMING
The raising of chicken for meat and egg production in farms and associated management operations.
iv) INTENSIVE FARMING
In this system, multiple cropping systems and raising of more livestock are carried out at the same time in one calendar year in order to get maximum output from the land and labor resources. There is an efficient utilization of solar energy and available resources at the farm to get the maximum yield.
v) EXTENSIVE FARMING
In this system, the extensive land is used for the farming, with a minimum expenditure of on attention to efficient use of the other resources. Yields per unit area of land are usually low. The purpose of such farming system is to get the maximum output from the scarce resource e.g., water, labor, fertilizer.
vi) DIVERSIFIED FARMING
In this system, a wide spectrum of crops are cultivated and many different types of animals are raised.
vii) SUBSISTENCE FARMING
The farming system the basic objective is to fulfill the requirements of food, clothing, and shelter of the farming family. It is common in developing countries due to small land holdings of the farmers.
viii) COMMERCIAL FARMING
The farming system in which objective is commercial scale production of farm products including crop and livestock products (milk, meat, eggs).
ix) TRUCK FARMING
The objective of such farming system is to produce one or two main types of crops or livestock to transport the products to the nearby markets or agro-based industry. The products are produced in bulk and marketed.
x) DRY / RAINFED FARMING
Farming system in which crop cultivation and rearing of livestock are carried out in areas with low rainfall and no irrigation facilities. The yields are largely affected by water availability. The objective of such system is to conserve moisture and get maximum possible income and output from the available rainfall or water.
xi) URBAN BASED FARMING SYSTEM
In large towns and cities, intensive production of perishable high-value commodities such as fresh vegetables is being carried out. This is a commercial system with high levels of inputs (fertilizers, pesticides etc.) and links to both rural and urban areas.
xii) ARID FARMING SYSTEM
This system depends on irrigation water for raising of crops and rearing of animals in the farm. This system in Pakistan is dependant upon the large and diverse canal system of Indus rivers and its tributaries which irrigate vastness of plains of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and a small area of Balochistan.
xiii) OTHER FARMING SYSTEMS IN PAKISTAN
There are numerous other examples of farming systems like
a) Agri-pastoral farming system (crops + livestock farming)
b) Fruit Farming (orchards)
c) Mountain Farming (contour plantations)
d) Grassland Farming (fodder production for livestock farming)
e) Fish Farming (raising of fish and associated farm enterprises) etc.