Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/13/2017
Publication Date: 9/18/2018
Citation: Archer, D.W., Franco Jr, J.G., Halvorson, J.J., Pokharel, K.P. 2018. Integrated farming systems. Fath, B. editor. Encylopedia of Ecology (2nd Edition). Oxford, UK: Elsevierp. 508-514.
Interpretive Summary: Integrated farming systems are systems where multiple farming enterprises interact. These systems are designed so that waste from one component is used as an input for another component. In this chapter these systems are defined, and historical trends, drivers, examples, challenges, and future directions are described. The chapter provides a basic overview of these systems as an introduction for researchers, teachers, and the general public.
Technical Abstract: Integrated farming systems are agricultural systems with multiple enterprises that interact in space and time. Key aspects of these systems are inter-dependence among enterprises within the system, synergistic transfer of resources among enterprises, and flexibility in the system to be sustainable in the long-run. Integration can be described along the three dimensions of organization, spatial integration, and temporal integration. Systems that are closely integrated in all three dimensions are those with many enterprises, and with multiple enterprises occupying the same unit of land at the same time. Integrated farming often includes both crop and livestock enterprises. While integrated systems were common historically, the trend has been toward more specialized systems. Several types of drivers influence the adoption of integrated farming, including economic, social, and environmental drivers. Integrated systems enjoy economies of scope, but these benefits tend to decrease in larger scale farms that benefit from economies of scale. There are many challenges with integrated farming, including the complexity of managing multiple enterprises. Future developments in technology, and demands for food and ecosystem services will influence the adoption of these systems. Technologies that help managers deal with the complexities of integrated systems may facilitate greater adoption of these systems, and integrated farming systems may play a key role in meeting future food needs while maintaining or enhancing ecosystem services.