Integrated farming

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Integrated farming or integrated production 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.

While not often considered as part of the permaculture movement, Integrated Farming is a similar "whole systems approach" to agriculture.[1] There have been efforts to link the two together such as at the 2007 International Permaculture Conference in Brazil.[2] Agro-ecology (which was developed at University of California Santa Cruz) and Bio-dynamic farming also describe similar integrated approaches. The most impressive aspect of Chinese aquaculture that the study group observed was the integration of fish farming with livestock production and farming of agricultural crops, including vegetable farming. Integrated farming is a traditional Chinese practice and, as mentioned earlier, has in recent years been further supported by the concept of an all-round 'development of agriculture, animal husbandry, fisheries and other sideline occupations. Although integrated farming is economically and environmentally sound, the motivation for integration would appear to be the national policy of diversification of production.

Examples include:

  • "pig tractor" systems where the animals are confined in crop fields well prior to planting and "plow" the field by digging for roots
  • poultry used in orchards or vineyards after harvest to clear rotten fruit and weeds while fertilizing the soil
  • cattle or other livestock allowed to graze cover crops between crops on farms that contain both cropland and pasture (or where transhumance is employed)
  • Water based agricultural systems that provide way for effective and efficient recycling of farm nutrients producing fuel, fertilizer and a compost tea/mineralized irrigation water in the process.

Organizations[edit]

FARRE[edit]

In 1993 FARRE (Forum de l'Agriculture Raisonnée Respecteuse l'Environnement) developed agricultural techniques France as part of an attempt to reconcile agricultural methods with the principles of sustainable development. FARRE, promotes an integrated and/or multi-sector approach to food production that includes profitability, safety, animal welfare, social responsibility and environmental care.

ZERI[edit]

Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives (formed in 1994) developed a similar approach to FARRE seeking to promote agricultural and industrial production models that sought to incorporate nature's wisdom into the process. ZERI helped support an effort by an environmental engineer from Mauritius named George Lai Chan-Yu-Tin DIC CSK (born 02-03-1924).

ZERI Bag[edit]

George Chan working with a network of poly-culture farming pioneers began refining Integrated Farming practices that had already been developed in south-east Asia in the 1960 through the 1980s, building on traditional night soil farming practice. In China, programs embracing this form of integrated farming have been successful in demonstrating how an intensive growing systems can use organic and sustainable farming practices, while providing high agriculture yields.

Taking what he learned from the Chinese during his time there, Chan worked at the United Nations University in the 1990s and forwarded an approach to Integrated Farming which was termed Integrated Biomass Systems working specifically under the UNU/ZERI ZERI Bag Program.

Chan during his work with UNU sought to make the case that Integrated Biomass Systems were well suited to help small island nations and low lying tropical regions become more self-reliant and prosperous in the production of food.[3] Working with ZERI, he developed several prototypes for this approach around the world including sites in Namibia and Fiji. The scientifically verified results in a UNDP sponsored congress in 1997 resulted in the adoption of the IBS by the State Government of Paraná, Brazil where dozens of piggeries have applied the system generating food, energy while improving health and environmental conditions. During his work at the United Nations University he also got to know Gunter Pauli, who later developed these integrated systems further in his The Blue Economy movement.

ZERI Bag had a significant African component that included assisting development of the Songhai Farm Integrated Farming project in Benin. ZERI Bag was designed to focus on small scale deployment of appropriate technologies with a focus on the Integrated Biomass System approach developed by ZERI and George Chan. [4]

Heifer Foundation[edit]

Most recently The Heifer Foundation (an international NGO based in the US) has taken a lead role in deploying Integrated Farming so that it can be replicated globally as an effective approach to sustainable farming in non-affluent regions such as Vietnam.[5]

Example collaborative projects[edit]

Montfort Boy's Town in Fiji was one of the first Integrated Biomass Systems developed outside of Southeast Asia with the support of UNU, UNDP and other international agencies. The project which is still operational continues to be a model of how farm operations can provide multiple benefits to stakeholders both local and international.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Steve Diver's work linking Integrated Farming with Permaculture: http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/perma.html
  2. ^ Report includes reference to presentation on Integrated Farming by permaculture and ZERI practitioner Eric Fedus and Alexandre Takamatsu
  3. ^ George Chan. "Small Islands and ZERI: A unique case for the Application of ZERI". International Symposium on "Small Islands and Sustainable Development organized by the United Nations University and the National Land Agency of Japan". 
  4. ^ http://www.zeri.unam.na/africa.htm
  5. ^ http://www.heifer.org/site/c.edJRKQNiFiG/b.2877337/

External links[edit]