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Farmer’s participatory research on integrated farming system

C. Jayanthi, C. Vennila2 and K. Nalini3

1 Professor (Agronomy), TNAU, India
Senior research fellow, TNAU, India
Ph.D research scholar, TNAU, India


A research has been made in the farmers’ fields of Tamil Nadu, India for a holistic integration of different allied enterprises with cropping to sustain crop and soil productivity. The treatments were farmers farming system and improved farming system activities. The crop activity in integrated farming system consisted of field crop, vegetable crop and fodder crops. The livestock kept were two cross bred milch cows + one calf, ten female Tellicherry does + one buck and twenty guinea fowls. The manure obtained from milch cows along with field and fodder crop residues were used for biocompost. Vegetable wastes, goat and guinea fowl manure were used for vermicomposting. The quantity of organic manure obtained from the livestock components of integrated farming system was 5736 kg in dry weight basis, whereas, quantity of organic manure from farmers practice was about 3760 kg on dry weight basis. The manure and crop residue available for biocomposting was 5.2 t. The total quantity of biocompost obtained after composting was 3.5 t which were applied to field crops raised in 0.60 acre (2.6 t) and fodder crops in 0.20 acre (0.9 t). Vegetable crop wastes (0.2 t) goat and guinea fowl manure (2 t) were used for vermicomposting resulting in 1.5 t of vermicompost, which was applied to vegetable crops raised in 0.10 acre. By recycling the farm and livestock manures, the soil fertility status was increased in addition to enhanced productivity and profitability.

Key words

Physical indicators, Resource recycling, Allied enterprises


The average holding of a farm in India has been declining and over 80 out of 105 million operational holdings are now below the size of 1.00 ha. Conventional farming is risky and farmers are reluctant to invest heavily in crop production. With increasing pressure from the burgeoning human population, only vertical expansion is possible by integrating appropriate farming components requiring lesser space and time and ensuring periodic income to the farmer. The integrated farming system therefore, assumes greater importance for the sound management of farm resources to enhance the farm productivity, reduce the environmental degradation, improve quality of life for resource poor farmers and to maintain sustainability. Research exploring the linkages of components in the farming system has not been undertaken in the farmers’ fields in India before. Hence, this study was conducted using participatory research methods with the objectives to evaluate the efficiency of integrated component technologies in terms of productivity, increase income, employment generation and to quantify the nutrient flow efficiency of linked components to soil.

Materials and Method

Research was conducted in the farmer’s field at Chinnamathampalayam village in the western zone of Tamil Nadu. The farm is situated at 11 N latitude, 77 E longitudes and at an altitude of 426.7 m above MSL. The mean annual rainfall of western zone is 657 mm (mean of 83 years) distributed over 47 rainy days. The mean maximum and minimum temperatures are 30.0 and 21.4C respectively. The soil of the experimental field is sandy loam in texture. The soil was classified as low, high and high for available nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium respectively.

Components in Farming System


The crop activity in integrated farming system consists of field crop (60%), vegetable crop (10%) and fodder crops (20%) suited to irrigated upland conditions. The cropping system for field crop is sunflower - maize + cowpea - green gram (0.60 acres), in vegetable crop, bhendi - chillies (0.10acres) and fodder crop bajra napier hybrid grass (CO 3) + desmanthus (0.20 acres). Crop activities in farming system were taken in 0.90 ac. For comparison, traditional farming practice was undertaken in one acre and had been for the past five years. The traditional practice in one acre was Sorghum / tomato – brinjal / floriculture + milch cows + vermicompost.

Livestock components in IFS

Livestock components, vermicompost and biocompost were taken in 0.10 ac.

i. Milch cows

Two cross breed milch cows + one calf were taken for the study in each location

ii. Goat

Tellicherry goats comprising ten ewes and one buck were maintained under a deep litter system with slated floor built above the ground at a height of 2-3 feet, designed for the convenience of manure collection without wastage, to necessitate proper ventilation and to maintain clean and dry environment to avoid soiling and incidence of diseases. The buck was housed separately in the same stall to prevent indiscriminate mating with pregnant does and to avoid fighting with other goats.

iii. Guinea fowl

Twenty guinea fowls (15 female + 5 male) were reared. Guinea fowls were housed in a cage built above the vermicompost pit for the purpose of collecting the manure and to maintain hygiene.

iv. Vermicompost and biocompost

Compost pits were made for composting crop residues and farm wastes. The manure obtained from milch cows along with field and fodder crop residues was used for making biocompost and vermicompost was prepared from goat and guinea fowl manure and vegetable wastes. The quantity of available manure was calculated based on dry weight. The total quantity of solid waste on wet and dry basis and their nutrient potential before and after composting was observed.

The farming system experiments were taken in one acre land area. Farming system treatments were compared by quantifying physical indicators of sustainability based on system productivity, profitability and employment generation. The productivity of the respective components integrated in each system was finally converted as maize grain equivalent on the basis of prevailing unit cost of the produce of each component. The productivity of cross-bred milch cows was assessed using the lactation milk yield and from the sale of manure obtained from the milch cows. The productivity of Tellicherry goats was assessed by the sale of kids and manure. The productivity of guinea fowl was assessed using egg production, sale of chicks and manure. Labour requirement for various activities were recorded and given in man days per year. A man / woman working for 8 hours in a day is considered as one man day. The labour utilized in different enterprises in a system were added to result in man days per farmlet per acre per year. The economics of each enterprise was calculated based on the economic produce of that enterprise.


Productivity: Integration of cropping with components like milch cows, guinea fowl and vermicompost resulted in higher productivity during both the years. The mean maize grain equivalent yield is about 9417 kg acre-1 year-1 in traditional cropping system whereas in integrated farming system the maize grain equivalent yield is about 22754 kg acre-1 year-1. Inclusion of high yielding varieties and allied components would have helped in increasing the productivity and as a result the maize grain equivalent yield increased. This corroborates with the findings of Rangasamy et al. (1995).

Profitability: The integrated farming system led to increased revenue addition compared to traditional cropping system. Net returns from inclusion of allied enterprises in integrated farming system were about Rs. 60141. The increase in income over traditional cropping system was about 43.6%. The increase in income might be due to resource recycling. Resource recycling by way of utilization of fodder cultivated in the field provides a major part of the cost of maintenance of milch cows and goats and would have reduced the cost of production. The purchase of fertilizers for crops was also reduced by way of recycling the manures from animal components by vermicomposting and biocomposting, which served as organic manure for sustaining the productivity of crops. The resource and residue recycling had reduced the cost of production per unit of economic produce viz., meat, milk and egg from goat, milch cows and guinea fowl) than when produced with total dependence on external inputs. This corroborates with the findings of Esther et al. (2005).

Employment: Integrated farming system treatments generated more man days of employment compared to the traditional system involving cropping and dairy. Cropping in the traditional system generated 25 man days per acre per year while, cropping system involved in integrated farming system generated 49 man days of employment. A maximum of 183 man days per acre per year was generated from animal components in integrated farming system, whereas in traditional cropping system it is only about 80 man days. Additionally 3 man days per acre per year were generated from vermicomposting and biocomposting. The employment generation in cropping is restricted to the important operations of sowing, intercultural operations and harvest, and labour is not needed during the rest of the year. Contrary to this, the employment generation in multi enterprise farming system is spread uniformly throughout the year. The result shows that employment in multi enterprise farming system was constant and evenly spread throughout the year. This finding is supported by Jayanthi et al. (2002).

Residue recycling: The total quantity of bio-compost obtained from the integrated farming system was about 3.5 tonnes. Of this 2.6 tonnes was applied to annual crop which was raised in 0.60 acre and the remaining 0.9 tonnes was diverted to fodder crops raised in 0.2 acre of land area. About 1.5 tonnes of vermicompost was obtained by way of recycling the goat, guinea fowl manures and vegetable crop waste. Out of this, about 0.5 t of vermicompost was diverted to vegetable crop raised in 0.10 acre and the remaining one tonnes was sold to add the revenue of the farm . In the traditional cropping system, the residue generated was less as compared to integrated farming system.

The nutrient content was 0.7 % N, 0.6% P2O5, 0.7 % K2O and 2.3 % N, 0.7% P2O5, 1.2 % K2O in bio-compost and vermicompost respectively. In vermicompost the nutrient content was slightly higher than the bio-compost because of higher nutrient content in goat and guinea fowl manures. The manure obtained were recycled as nutrient input to the crops after composting and served as organic manure for sustaining the productivity of crops. The system of crop + milch cows + goat + guinea fowl + biocompost and vermicompost could provide better bio resource utilization and recycling. Synergistic interaction of the farming system in terms of labour, resources and residue recycled is depicted in Fig. 1. The dependence on external inputs for all the systems decreased during the second year indicates that over long periods of time, the integrated farming systems will become more self supporting, self sufficient and sustainable. This is consistent with the findings of Jayanthi et al. (1997).


Based on the farmer participatory research, it is concluded that integrated farming system approach is better than the traditional system in its contribution to productivity, profitability, economics and employment generation for small and marginal farmers of Tamil Nadu.


Esther Shekinah D, Jayanthi C and Sankaran N. (2005). Physical indicators of sustainability - A farming systems approach for the small farmer in rainfed vertisols of the Western zone of Tamil Nadu. J. Sustainable Agriculture. 25 (3): 43-65.

Jayanthi C (2002). Sustainable Farming System and lowland farming of Tamil Nadu. IFS Adhoc scheme. Completion Report.

Jayanthi C, Rangasamy A and Chinnusamy C (1997). Integrated nutrient management in rice based cropping systems linked with lowland integrated farming system. Fertilizer News. 42 (3): 25-30.

Rangasamy A, Venkitasamy R, Jayanthi C, Purshothaman S and Palaniappan SP (1995). Rice based farming system: A viable approach. Indian Farming 44(11): 27-29.

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