Integrated Farming System for Rainfed Situations
Author: Sodavadiya Harinanandan Babubhai


Rainfed agriculture occupies 68% of India's cultivated area and supports 40% of the human and 60% of the livestock population. It produces 44% of the food requirement, thus has and will continue to play a critical role in India's food security. However, aberrant behavior of monsoon rainfall, eroded and degraded soils with multiple nutrient and water deficiencies, declining, ground water table and poor resource base of the farmers are principle constraints for low and unstable yields in rainfed areas. Increasing crop productivity to meet food requirements of teaming millions in our country poses a greater challenge. In this context, there is a need to enhance the productivity of rainfed crop from at least 1 to 2 t meet the food requirements by2020 AD. Hence, the situation calls for efforts to intensify the production in both time and spaces. This could be possible by developing appropriate cropping and farming systems in rainfed agriculture.

Integrated Farming Systems

IFS may be defined as linking together two or more normally separate components or enterprises which then become subsystems of a whole farming systems.

IFS is a resource management strategy to achieve the economical and sustainable production to meet the diverse requirements of farm household while preserving the resource base.

Goals of IFS

Provide a steady and stable income rejuvenation/amelioration of the system's productivity and achieve agro-ecological equilibrium through the reduction in the build¬up of pests and diseases, through natural cropping system management and the reduction in the use of chemicals.

Two Major Features of IFS are :

Waste or by-product utilization in which the wastes or by-products of one subsystem become an input to a second subsystem.

Improved space utilization in which the two subsystems essentially occupy part or all of the space required for an individual subsystem.

Benefits of an Integrated farming system

* Productivity
* Increasing input efficiency
* Profitability
* Employment generation
* Sustainability
* Meeting fodder crisis
* Balanced food
* Solving fuel and timber crisis
* Environmental safety
* Income round year

Rainfed Agro-Ecosystem

1.The rainfed agro-ecosystem

a) Covers about 65% of the net cultivated area

i) 40% of the population of India

b) Contributes 44% of food basket

c) Supports 2/3rd of India's livestock population

d) 91% of coarse cereals, 90% of pulses, 85% of oilseeds, 65% of cotton and 55% of rice are grown under rain-fed conditions

2. The farming systems are quite complex with a wide variety of crops and cropping systems, agro-forestry and livestock production.

a) Farming system for rainfed areas is cropping with goat and silvipasture, integrated aqaculture with agriculture.

b) Most important system of Indian Agriculture

C) Complex system with wide crops and cropping systems.

Characterised by

  1. Instability in biological productivity
  2. Farmers - resource poor (infrastructure/credit)
  3. Low rainfall/degraded soils/poor socio economic base
  4. No alternate option
  5. Acute shortage of fodder
  6. Rain water - critical input
Components of Rainfed Agro-ecosytem

  1. Cropping systems
  2. Fodder crops
  3. Farm pond
  4. Agroforestry
  5. Livestock
  6. Complimentary units
Cropping Systems

In order to critically analyse the crop and area specific problems and potentials, the rainfed areas have been divided into five major production systems viz., Cereals, oilseeds, Rainfed rice, Pulses, Cotton and Soybean based systems.

The guiding principles for selection of crops and varieties for efficient management of resources and rainfed areas are: land use capability concept, Water availability concept, crop substitution, quantity and distribution of rainfall, soil depth and performance of crops. Effective growing period concept is mostly used in deciding cropping systems m different agro-climatic zones. In kharif season, the rainfall both in terms of quantum and distribution decides the effective growing season and it becomes critical in selecting cropping systems for a given reason. A beneficial effect of 15-25% on yield was demonstrated by the crop substitution strategy, which means by replacing one crop with another appropriate crop. Soil depth and available moisture determines the selection of crops and cropping systems for a given region. In rabi season available moisture in soil profile at sowing time dictates the choice of crops in a given cropping system in regions, receiving 350-600 mm of rainfall and 20 weeks effective growing season. Intercropping (150% cropping intensity) is possible in regions having 20-30 weeks of effective growing season from 650-750 mm of rainfall. In areas receiving more than 750 mm of rainfall and having an effective growing season of more than 30 weeks double cropping (200% cropping intensity) is assured. Early planting and harvesting at physiological maturity of crops, less number of tillage operations, deep placement of fertilizers for rabi crops are crucial for succeeding double cropping.

Crop Diversification

Cultivation of crops for dyes, medicines, and aromatics is economical in rainfed lands. They also played a vital role in sustained use of degraded lands. These crops are both perennial and annuals with plants mostly of bushy nature. The advantages of bushes over larger perennial are that the former offers less competition to associated crops. The promising plants for cultivation in drylands are dyes like Indigo (Indigofera tinctoria L.), Henna (Lawsonia innermis L.) and Bixa (Bixa orellana L), medicinal plants like Ashwagandha ( Withania somnifera L,), Senna {Cassia angustifotia Vahl.), Mucuna (Mucuna pruriens L.), aromatics like curry leaf ( Murayya koenigii L.), lemon grass (Cymbopogan martini (Roxb.) Wats, and sweet basil (Ocimum basilium L.).



2. Ramrao, W. Y., Tiwari, S. P and Singh, P., 2006. Crop-livestock integrated farming system for the Marginal farmers in rainfed regions of Chhattishgarh in central India. Livestock Research for Rural Development, 18 (7): 1-4.

About Author / Additional Info:
Ph.D student in department of Agronomy, AAU, Anand