Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Water Science
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: August 20, 2001
Publication Date: August 1, 2003
Citation: BAUER, P.J., FREDERICK, J.R., SADLER, E.J. RAINFED FARMING CHARACTERISTICS. Marcel Dekker, New York, NY. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WATER SCIENCE. 2003.p. 780-782. Technical Abstract: Because farmers grow plants in a wide range of environments, rainfed farming systems are highly diverse, ranging from intense production systems with high capital, equipment, and management investments to systems that consist of reseeding forage species with grazing animals harvesting the crop. Regardless of the size of the enterprise or the crop grown, a key to the success of rainfed-farming systems is soil water management. Crop plant productivity in rainfed systems is greatly determined by the amount and/or seasonal distribution of soil water and by the physiological capability of the plants to use that water. Systems that have been developed to increase crop yields include soil management techniques that optimize root zone water content and crop management techniques that best utilize the stored soil water plus seasonal precipitation. Continued increases in productivity of rainfed farming systems will require a combination of improved soil and crop management practices.