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Punjab Agricultural University Develops Integrated Farming System (IFS) for Farmers

Dr. Satbir Singh Gosal, VC, PAU advised farmers to adopt ‘IFS’ created by the University as it will significantly increase their income.

Sonali Behera
Integrated Farming System for Small & Marginal Farmers
Integrated Farming System for Small & Marginal Farmers

After extensive testing for more than ten years, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana has created an Integrated Farming System (IFS) specifically for small and marginal farmers. It is a suitable combination of crops, livestock, aquaculture, agroforestry, and agri-horticulture that ensures sustainability, profitability, balanced food availability, and the creation of jobs. It is an economically feasible choice.

Vice-Chancellor Dr. Satbir Singh Gosal advised small and marginal farmers to embrace IFS created by PAU as it has the potential to increase income and give family members adequate nourishment. The added benefits, according to him, include continued production, cost-effectiveness, covering a variety of farm household needs, optimal resource usage, recycling of waste materials, adequate compensation, and the security of livelihood for farmers who lack resources.

Dr. Gosal provided information on the distribution of landholdings in the State, noting that Punjab has 1,092,713 holdings, with 14.13% of them being tiny (less than 1 ha), 18.98% being marginal (between 1-2 ha), and 33.67% being semi-medium (between 2-4 ha) farmers. He elaborated on Punjab's agriculture revenue, revealing that it represents 90.5% of total income, with 9.5% coming from non-farm sources.

The Integrated Farming System model was introduced at the research farm of the School of Organic Farming, PAU under the "All India Coordinated Research Project on Integrated Farming Systems (ICAR)" and provides income year-round in addition to supplying household needs (cereals, vegetables, oilseeds, pulses, fruits, milk, etc.), according to Dr. Ajmer Singh Dhatt, Director of Research.

Depending on the locality, a combination of agricultural cultivation, dairy farming, kitchen gardening, and other secondary components can be used. He said that after receiving the appropriate training, particular agri-based firms might also be included.

According to Dr. Sohan Singh Walia, Director of the School of Organic Farming the experiment, which was started during Kharif 2010, encompassed an area of 1 hectare (2.5 acres) under field crops, horticulture, aquaculture, dairy, agroforestry, and goatry components. On a 6400 sq meter plot, paddy, maize, and turmeric were planted as kharif crops. The following rabi and summer seasons saw the production of potato, berseem, wheat, gobhi, sarson, onion, pearl millet, and spring maize. Guava and citrus were planted as part of the horticulture component in an area of about 1600 square meters, inter-row vegetable crops were grown in a space of 1500 square meters, and dairy (cattle and goats) and agro-forestry components were grown in areas of 200, 1000, and 300 square meters, respectively.

Dr. Walia reported that study (averaged over five years) showed that implementing an integrated farming system with crop-based businesses, horticulture, dairy, and aquaculture resulted in average net returns of Rs. 4,95,810/ha, with the contribution from dairy coming in at Rs. 2,86,201, followed by crop (Rs. 1,25,070), kitchen gardening (Rs 8,048), aquaculture (Rs. 24,891), horticulture (Rs. 30,156), boundary plantation (Rs. 19,341) and agro-forestry (Rs 2,104).

Dr. Walia claims that the 1 ha model created for marginal and small farmers produced gross returns of Rs. 8,40,114 per ha for a cost of Rs. 3,44,304 per ha. After subtracting all variable expenses, the net returns were Rs 4,95,810/ha, which was much greater than the current rice-wheat farming scheme.

Additionally, the IFS model is a climate-smart agriculture system with negative greenhouse gas emission estimated at -5380.7 CO2-e due to the total quantity of carbon contributed and sink being 3042.0 CO2-e (kg) and 11319.7 CO2-e (kg), respectively (kg). Additionally, the aforementioned approach saves 30-45% using recycled agricultural resources. According to him, it also uses 5.9 kg/m3 less water per crop than the rice-wheat cropping scheme.

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