Changing Farm Systems and Practices
Farming systems describe how farm activities are organised and relate to each other to produce food or other commodities. Farming systems may be mechanised or labour-intensive; be monoculture or multi-cropped/integrated with livestock; be irrigated or dry-land; make use of artificial fertilisers/farm chemicals or be organic; produce either raw materials or a finished product.
Given the increasing uncertainty in climate patterns, the rise in energy prices and the weaknesses appearing in industrial agricultural farming systems – a shift to more natural, integrated farming systems that make more use of the soil’s microbiology may be one of the ways forward. For example, on the currently irrigated lands the introduction of rotations of pasture, legumes, and cattle, could help to build up the soil fertility and contribute towards Food Security.
Changes in farm practices would include reduction of energy-intensive inputs, greater use of microbiological inoculants, introduction of minimum tillage/soil, and the composting of farm organic wastes. Livestock, particularly cattle, (dairy and beef) could also play an important role in Food Security within a more integrated and “natural” system of farming. Livestock play a key role in utilising crop residues, consuming forage legumes within a rotation, and providing manure. It may be that the future of livestock in Qatar lies in its closer integration with more balanced farming systems rather than as stand-alone enterprises serviced by external inputs.
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