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Récolte du blé

Mixed farming : the best of two worlds ?

An old idea brought back to life

Field Farm

A mixed crop-livestock farm represents a model that combines several crops and one or more livestock on the farm. It is a complex, diversified and not very specialized system. 

Mixed cropping-livestock is an agricultural production system combining one or more crops (intended for sale and/or animal feed) and at least one livestock. By definition, many combinations of animals and crops are possible and in varying proportions. Such a system tends towards agro-ecology when the animals are fed by the crops and meadows, which are fertilized in return by their manure. Mixed farming can be defined at the level of a farm or between farms (at least two or a collective) coordinating for the management of material flows (grain, fodder, effluent) or via an economic organization (e.g. a cooperative) managing these flows.

 

Compared to a specialized agricultural system (crops or livestock), mixed farming-livestock production with agroecological objectives is a form of integrated agriculture: crops provide grain (cereals and protein crops) and crop residues (straw, co-products) or even fodder (alfalfa hay, etc.) to livestock, which returns organic effluents (liquid manure, manure). This integration between crops and livestock favors the autonomy of the system with respect to inputs (fertilizers, pesticides, livestock feed, etc.). Finally, mixed crop-livestock farming allows for a better resilience of the system to climatic and economic hazards.

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This agrosystem works in a cyclical way, the plant and animal production are complementary and limit the use of inputs (notably synthetic fertilizers). When animals are grazing, they maintain the meadows and deposit the manure on site, saving fuel. 

Moutons dans les champs ouverts
Les bovins dans les pâturages

Animal farming : how to find a balance between services and pollutions ?

Despite the pollution it generates, in terms of greenhouse gases and water and soil pollution, livestock farming still provide services to the environment, by helping fertilize the crops, maintining the landscapes and biodiversity in its meadows. 

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