Rainfed Farming Systems

pp 271-298


Interactions Between Crop and Livestock Activities in Rainfed Farming Systems

  • Edwin C. WolfeAffiliated withEH Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Charles Sturt University and NSW Department of Primary Industries Email author 

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The organisation of crop–livestock systems, both on farms (mixed farming) and between farms (integrated businesses), is explored from a world perspective. Over a continuum from semi-arid to humid regions, mixed farming is favoured in intermediate areas, with specialised crop and livestock businesses at the extremes. Tradition, land tenure, government policies and management complexity add further constraints and benefits to both mixed and integrated farming systems. Natural synergies and skilful management produce positive interactions between crops and livestock, at both the farm and regional levels. These interactions are described for a range of countries. Mixed and integrated farming systems provide options for coping with potential future shocks such as climate change and fuel shortages. However, these systems are potentially complex and many managers prefer the apparent simplicity of specialisation. In response to future challenges, there is scope for farm managers and policy-makers to promote business partnerships and social adjustments that enable simultaneous specialisation and diversification in mixed and integrated crop and livestock businesses.


Mixed farming Ley Phase farming Specialisation Diversification Synergistic Antagonistic Supplementary Complementary