Agricultural Farming Systems

Agricultural farming systems, agriculture is the practice of cultivating land, growing crops, and raising animals for food, fuel, and other products. Since the dawn of human civilization, agriculture has played a central role in providing sustenance and supporting the growth and development of human societies. Over time, agricultural systems have evolved and transformed to meet the changing needs of farmers, consumers, and the environment. In this blog post, we will explore the different agricultural systems of farming, their characteristics, advantages, and challenges.

Traditional Farming Systems

Traditional farming systems refer to the practices of small-scale farmers who rely on traditional knowledge, tools, and techniques to cultivate their crops and raise their livestock. These systems are typically characterized by low inputs, low yields, and low levels of mechanization. Traditional farmers often use organic fertilizers and pest control methods, and they rely on natural rainfall to water their crops.

Traditional farming systems are prevalent in many parts of the world, particularly in developing countries. They are often associated with subsistence agriculture, where farmers grow crops primarily for their own consumption and for the local market. Traditional farming systems are also common in remote and marginalized areas where modern agricultural inputs and technologies are not readily available.

One of the main advantages of traditional farming systems is their resilience and adaptability. Traditional farmers have developed a deep understanding of their local ecosystems and have learned to work with nature rather than against it. They have also developed diverse and integrated farming systems that rely on multiple crops and livestock species to provide food and income security.

However, traditional farming systems also face significant challenges. They often suffer from low productivity and yield variability, which can lead to food insecurity and poverty. Traditional farmers may also be vulnerable to climate change, environmental degradation, and market fluctuations, which can disrupt their livelihoods and increase their vulnerability.

Conventional Farming Systems

Conventional farming systems refer to the modern, industrialized approach to agriculture that relies on high inputs, mechanization, and specialized production. Conventional farmers use synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides to increase crop yields and control pests and diseases. They also rely heavily on irrigation and modern machinery, such as tractors, combines, and harvesters, to plant, cultivate and harvest their crops.

Conventional farming systems are prevalent in developed countries, where large-scale commercial agriculture is the norm. They are also becoming increasingly popular in developing countries, where governments and international organizations promote modern agriculture as a means of increasing food production and reducing poverty.

One of the main advantages of conventional farming systems is their high productivity and efficiency. Conventional farmers can produce large quantities of crops and livestock with minimal labour inputs, which can reduce the cost of food production and increase profitability. They also have access to modern technologies and inputs, such as genetically modified seeds, precision farming, and digital tools, which can enhance their decision-making and management.

However, conventional farming systems also face significant challenges. They are often associated with environmental degradation, soil erosion, water pollution, and biodiversity loss. Conventional farmers may also suffer from a loss of biodiversity, as they tend to focus on a limited number of crops and livestock species. Additionally, conventional farming systems may lead to a concentration of land ownership and power, which can exacerbate social inequalities and marginalize small-scale farmers.

Organic Farming Systems

Organic farming systems refer to the practices of farmers who use organic inputs, such as compost, manure, and green manure, to fertilize their crops and control pests and diseases. Organic farmers also avoid synthetic chemicals and genetically modified organisms, and they rely on crop rotation, intercropping, and agroforestry to enhance soil fertility and biodiversity.

Organic farming systems are prevalent in many parts of the world, particularly in developed countries where consumers are increasingly concerned about the safety and quality of their food. They are also becoming more

AGRICULTURAL SYSTEMS. Definition: This is a method of farming evolved by different communities in their efforts to obtain the highest possible returns from their lands and animals for their food, shelter, clothing and fuel needs, without compromising the fertility and productivity of the soil.

Agricultural systems practised in West Africa include:

(i) Shifting cultivation
(ii) Continuous cropping
(iii) Monocropping
(iv) Mixed cropping
(v) Pastoral farming
(vi) Ranching
(vii) Agro-forestry
(viii) Taungya system
(ix) Bush fallowing/land rotation
(x) Crop rotation
(xi) Monoculture
(xii) Mixed farming
(xiii) Nomadic herding
(xiv) Ley farming
(xv) Alley cropping
(xvi) Ecological/Organic farming

Characteristics of Agricultural Systems in West Africa include:

(i) Farm sizes are usually small- land tenure system
(ii) Simple farm tools and implements are used
(iii) Farm mechanization is difficult because of scattered farm holdings.
(iv) Farmers still rely on the use of unimproved seeds and planting materials
(v) Yields are usually low because of the low application of farm inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides
(vi) Most farmers are commercially oriented because they sold their (surplus) produce.
(vii) Livestock management practices are still sub-standard
(viii) Output of livestock products such as milk, eggs and meat is usually low


(ix) Improved breeds of livestock and poultry are not widely used.
(x) There is poor record-keeping on many farms
(xi) Modern storage facilities are absent on many farms, leading to loss of produce
(xii) Marketing of farm produce is poorly organized.
(xiii) Processing of farm produce is usually poorly done
(xiv) Majority of farmers are rural dwellers
(xv) Agricultural production is seasonal because most farmers depend on rain. That is, they practice a rain-fed farming system

(xvi) Nomadic farming is extensively practised(xvii) Use of drought animals is possible
Agricultural systems have been used over the years by farmers to produce food for humanity. These systems are affected by climatic conditions, vegetation and crops in different areas. This means that these factors in no small way determine the type of system that could be used in an area for production.

For instance, tree crops are planted in the Southern part of Nigeria because this part, which is known as the rain forest zone, can support tree crops very well, while the Northern part known as the savanna zone is mainly used for growing grain and cereal crops like maize and rice

Agricultural systems entail what we call farming and cropping systems. In this unit, we shall be discussing the various types of farming and cropping systems that have been used over the ages to date.

Meaning of Farming Systems:

The farming system simply means the different types of agricultural practices used by farmers around the world for the production of plants and animals. It may be defined as a system which encompasses the farmer, the farm, the types of crops grown, the livestock reared and the technology used in carrying out various farm operations to achieve maximum yield.

Farming systems include the following:

Shifting cultivation and bush fallow system.

Shifting cultivation is a system of farming where a farmer cultivates on a piece of land for some years, until yields start to decrease. The farmer now abandons such land and moves to a different location without having the intention to go back to the original area. He may, however, return to the area again by accident.
In the

bush fallow system

, which is a form of shifting cultivation, the farmer cultivates on a piece of land for two or more years and intentionally leaves it for some years to enable the land to grow into the bush and regain its lost nutrients before it can be used again. In this system, the farmer may not move away from that area completely but may rotate his cultivation from one portion to another.

Simply put, the bush fallow system is known as land rotation and that period when the land is allowed to rest so that the lost nutrients can be restored is referred to as the fallow period. The lost nutrients are restored to the soil through the decomposition of dead plants and animals.

  1. economic tools for nation building
  2. budgeting
  3. factors affecting the expansion of industries
  4. mineral resources and the mining industries


In the past, shifting cultivation or bush fallowing was made possible due to low population and availability of enough land. But with the increase in population and man’s activities on land, such as road construction, building of schools, hospitals, recreational centres, living houses, industries, churches, game reserves, stadia, etc., there is hardly enough land to Practice this system of farming.

Differences between shifting cultivation and land rotation or bush fallowing

Shifting cultivation is a farming system whereby a piece of land is cultivated continuously for some years and then abandoned as a result of the decline in soil fertility, the build-up of pests and diseases, and the resultant reduction in crop yield. The farmer abandons not only the exhausted farmland but also his settlement for a new farm and a new settlement with no hope of coming back. Whereas, land rotation involves growing crops on a piece of land until it is exhausted and the land is left to fallow for some years before it is used again. The farmer clears other areas in succession to make new farms while remaining in his farmstead.

Advantages of shifting cultivation or bush fallowing:

(i) Shifting cultivation is possible where there is enough land and low population density.
(ii) The soil fertility is easily restored during the period of fallow.
(i) It does not require capital investment on fertilizer.
(ii) It prevents the accumulation and spread of pests, diseases and certain weeds on a particular land or area.
(i) Burning is a feature of shifting cultivation and it helps in killing many harmful organisms in the soil

Disadvantages of shifting cultivation or bush fallowing:

(i) Shifting cultivation requires enough land and a low population to succeed.
(ii) Many useful organisms living in the soil are usually destroyed during the burning
(iii) The system encourages soil erosion.
(iv) It requires much energy, time and money to clear new farmland.
(v) Under this system the farmer does not make any meaningful effort to improve on soil fertility.
(vi) It is very tedious moving 1mm one area Lu another, because the farmer may likely move his home to the new area.

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