Agriculture

Mixed Farming in India – Types, Characteristics and Advantages

Updated on 06th April, 2024, By Neesha Rathod
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Mixed Farming in India – Types, Characteristics and Advantages
Many types of farming are practised in India depending on various factors, the primary being soil types and climate conditions. Mixed farming is one of the old farming practices throughout the country. It involves a balanced relationship between crop production and animal husbandry to offer a variety of benefits to farmers.

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What is Mixed Farming?

Mixed farming is a practice in which multiple farm activities take place in addition to raising crops on a single piece of land. A crop can be grown along with farming activities like livestock rearing, beekeeping, fisheries, poultry, etc. The objective is to create as many sources of subsistence as possible. It primarily served domestic consumption initially; now, it is being preferred for commercial production.

Advantages of Mixed Farming

Mixed farming is an integral aspect of Indian agribusiness. It is because of the variety of benefits it offers.

  • Due to efficient land use, mixed farming offers higher productivity. Animals raised on the farm provide manure that can be utilized as fertilizers to improve soil fertility. Fertile soil means higher yields and more money for farmers.
  • A mixed farming system allows efficient use of resources. For instance, Crop cultivation and animal rearing use the same crop. Crop residues become fodder for animals, and their manure turns into fertilizers for soil. Thus, production costs are minimized, and profitability is increased.
  • Risk management is the key advantage of mixed farming. It allows farmers to mitigate risks and losses related to crop damage because of pests, diseases, and crop failures. Losses are minimized even if there is low yield or crop failure, as they can still use animals and their products as income sources.
  • Mixed agriculture involves higher chances of intensive farming. Intensive cropping is adopted to fulfil the demands of feed and fodder for the cattle. Also, it helps to meet the requirements of different crops, including vegetables and grains.
  • Its output offers a wide range of products that are sold at high profits in the market. For example, milk and dairy products are consumed on a large scale in India.

Characteristics of Mixed Farming

Mixed agriculture involves crop production and animal husbandry for complimentary usage of crops and livestock. Its main characteristics have been mentioned below:

  • Crop production and animal rearing are practised on the same piece of land. Mixed farming is usually done on an average-sized farm.
  • It uses crop by-products in the best manner and also converts them into valuable animal products like farmyard manure.
  • Organic manure is mostly used in the mixed farming system. It is widely available due to the presence of an animal husbandry facility nearby.
  • Farmers have diversified income sources as they deal with different agricultural outputs, including crops, dairy products, and meat.
  • A section of the farm is usually allocated for raising animals and producing animal feed.
  • Crop remains are used for fodder. After crop harvesting, farmers use the crop remains to feed the animals, thereby saving money on buying animal food and getting quality products like milk or meat.
  • Similar to commercial farming, it also involves the use of different types of farming tools, small agricultural implements and heavy machinery like tractors.
  • This farming method is a mix of commercial production and subsistence farming. Commercial mixed farming grows high-value crops that are intended for human consumption and sale in markets. Examples include wheat, corn, potatoes, peas and maize.

Types of Mixed Farming

There are different ways to classify mixed farming systems, including market orientation, animals and crop type and land size. The major types of mixed farming are:

On-farm versus Between-farm Mixing

In on-farm mixing, farmers recycle the resources of their own farms. It is also characterized by low external input agriculture (LEIA). Between-farm mixing is high external input agriculture (HEIA) that involves the exchange of resources among different farms. For instance, livestock farms may transport manure to farmers who face short supply.

Mixing within Crops and/or Animal Systems

Multiple cropping is done in this type of mixed farming, along with rearing different types of animals. Crop rotation is performed over and within years. For example, the rotation of grain legumes can be done to provide nitrogen to grains. Also, intercropping of plants helps in taking full advantage of moisture and light. Mixing between animals is also a part of this mixed farming system. In a chicken-fish pond system, the fishpond is fertilized by the chicken dung.  

Diversified versus Integrated Systems

In a diversified system, the co-existence of components like livestock and crops is independent of each other. Independent units of crops, dairy and pigs can be run by HEIA farmers. The goal of mixing is not to recycle resources but to minimize risk.

The aim of integration is the efficient recycling of resources. It is mostly common in the case of LEIA farmers. One component produces by-products that act as resources for another component. For example, animal manure becomes fertilizers for crops, while straws become food for animals.

Mixed Farming in India

Mixed farming has been an important nature-friendly farming system adopted by traditional farmers of India. The farmers from Kerala, Gujarat (the Charotar tract), western Uttar Pradesh and Punjab are noted to be highly successful. Most of them are involved in mixed farming in India. Milch cattle provide milk and milk products that increase their income.

National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture, or NMSA, is a component of the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) that offers financial assistance to farmers involved in mixed farming. NMSA covers mixed farming under its broad activity related to the livestock-based farming system.

Challenges of Mixed Farming

Mixed farming is one of the preferred agricultural practices for Indian farmers. However, it also comes with certain limitations, which are discussed in this section:

  • Farmers need to have knowledge and specialized skills for both crop management and animal husbandry. This process may take time and result in farmers opting out of mixed farming.
  • High capital investment is required in the starting phases of mixed farming. It is necessary to buy seeds, livestock, equipment, etc. Small farmers may not be able to afford this farming system.
  • There is more workload in mixed farming as farmers need to manage both animals and crops. It may cause burnout or fatigue in farmers.
  • Disease and pest management is a challenging task as crops can be easily infected with pests and diseases from animals and the other way around.

Frequently Asked Questions on Mixed Farming in India – Types, Characteristics and Advantages

1. What is mixed farming?

Mixed farming is a system that not only grows crops but also raises livestock.

Mixed farming is practiced in many states in India, including Kerala, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.

Soil nitrogen can be replenished in mixed farming with the help of crop rotation using legumes.

Mixed farming involves practices like crop rotation that enhance soil fertility and prevent soil erosion.

Mixed farming is a mix of commercial production and subsistence farming.

Mixed farming grows a variety of crops, including wheat, corn, potatoes, peas and maize.

Neesha Rathod
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Neesha Rathod
Neesha holds a bachelor’s degree in agriculture and a postgraduate degree in Rural Management. With over 10 years of experience in agriculture and the rural sector, she is a quick problem solver. She is inquisitive and has a deep analytics insight into any issues related to agriculture. She loves to travel and explore new places.
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