Mixed crop–livestock farming systems are major element of the world’s land use and of its agricultural land use and about 0.35–0.40 M km2 of land, a third of the agricultural zone, was occupied by farms operating both cropping and livestock enterprises.
A need to heighten rural construction crosswise the realm for food insurance seem inconsistent the desperation to bring agriculture’s pessimistic indirect impacts. The conceivable begina bout difference of opinion is loss of dissimilarity not beyond agronomical systems at court, farm and scenery scales. To raise distinction, regional Integration of cropping with cattle systems is advised, and that would allow (i) better regulation of biogeochemical cycles and decreased environmental fluxes to the atmosphere and hydrosphere through spatial and temporal interactions among different land-use systems; (ii) a more diversified and structured landscape mosaic that would favor diverse habitats and trophic networks; and (iii) greater flexibility of the whole system to cope with potential socio-economic and climate change induced hazards and crises. The fundamental role of grasslands on the reduction of environmental fluxes to the atmosphere and hydrosphere operates through the coupling of C and N cycles within vegetation, soil organic matter and soil microbial biomass. Therefore, close association of grassland systems with cropping systems should help mitigate negative environmental impacts resulting from intensification of cropping systems and improve the quality of grasslands through periodic renovations. However, much attention is required on designing appropriate spatial and temporal interactions between these systems using contemporary technologies to achieve the greatest benefits in different agro-ecological regions. The development of modern integrated crop–livestock systems to increase food production at farm and regional levels could be achieved, while improving many ecosystem services. Integrated crop–livestock systems, therefore, could be a key form of ecological intensification needed for achieving future food security and environmental sustainability
Livestock production is strongly increasing worldwide because of the increase in demand for animal protein by people in developing countries. Greater income per capita also plays a role in demand for animal products, such as occurring with dairy products in Asia. Animals have various functions in developing countries other than for food production, such as a source of life saving, production of organic fertilizers, etc. Notably, animals have been considered a sign of wealth for the poor, because of these multiple functions. Increasing size of herds is not the only trend. Due to the low energy efficiency of converting plants to animal products, it may be untenable to develop large and very specialized intensive livestock production systems in developing countries. Moreover, these highly intensive and concentrated livestock production practices are generating highly specialized and uniform land use systems, which can be the source of high concentrations of water pollution and emission of greenhouse gases, as well as greater sensitivity to climate change. However, domestic herbivores are not necessarily in competition with humans for food, since they can utilize plant material unsuitable for the human diet from grassland ecosystems located on soils/landscapes not suitable for efficient crop production. Therefore, grasslands should continue to play an important role not only as fodder for sustainable animal production, but also to provide landscape space for realizing essential ecosystem services, such as absorbing negative environmental impacts resulting from the intensification of agriculture .
Integrated crop–livestock systems could provide opportunities to capture ecological interactions among different land use systems to make agricultural ecosystems more efficient at cycling nutrients, preserving natural resources and the environment, improving soil quality, and enhancing biodiversity. Moreover, diversifying agricultural production could utilize labor more efficiently at farm and/or regional scales. Integration of crop and livestock production was the basis for enhancing agriculture. Eventually, intensive use of fertilizers and mechanization reduced the necessity for this integration. Competitiveness in the world market appears to be based on specialization and increasing size of farms. As a consequence, crop and livestock systems developed more and more into separated farms, especially following rapid industrialization post World War II. Moreover these two systems developed separately in different agro-ecoregions, leading to large uniformly intensive landscapes of cereal production without livestock and concentration of livestock production facilities.
Therefore, our challenge is not to rediscover or adopt ancestral agriculture systems that would lead unavoidably to a drastic reduction of agricultural production incompatible with increasing food security requirements, but rather to invent modern integrated systems based on available technology capable of providing both high socio-economic outputs and multiple environmental benefits. This necessary coupling between crop and livestock production must be devised at all levels of organization: the field, where biogeochemical processes are operating; the farm, where management decisions are made; the landscape, where ecosystem processes and interactions between land use components are occurring; and the region or the continent, where socio-economic and political constraints are the driving forces.
This article is collectively authored by Naeem Ahmad1*, Ahmad Latif Virk1, Muhammad Yousaf Nadeem2, Saboor Khalid3, Ibtehaj Ahmad4_1 Department of Agronomy, University of Agriculture Faisalabad. 2 Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, P.R China. 3 University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Sub Campus-Vehari. 4Institute of Soil and Environmental Sciences, University of Agriculture Faisalabad.