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Mixed Farming. This is widely practiced form of farming in U.S.A. and many parts of Europe.
It is a combination of arable farming and animal husbandry. Cereals, root crops, vegetables and fruits are raised side by side with cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry. It is thoroughly mixed sort of land use that keeps the farmer fully occupied throughout the year. Mixed farming is still the major agricultural type. The proportion of the crops and animals at any time is dependent on many interrelated factors such as the locality of the farm, soil fertility, the animal, carrying capacity of the land, the market demand, the prevailing price of crops and animal products as well as farm traditions and government policies.
Mixed farming differs from other types of agriculture in that whereas it takes up crop farming and livestock farming with almost equal emphasis, the latter is an outgrowth of supplementary occupations in other types of agricultural. The products of the mixed farming are subject to variation from place to place. In some places animal product rather than animal is important while in others animals excels its product. Crops usually play a triple role; feed for farm animals, food for the farm family and commodities for cash sale.
Corn is the most important feedcrop in the U.S.A. and the Danube basin in Europe but in other parts of Europe hay takes the place of corn; potatoes, turnips, sugar beet and oats are also used for animal feed in Europe. Wheat is by far the most important crop both in the U.S.A. and in Europe, followed by corn and oats.
In this intensive utilization of land, crop rotation is widely practiced. Restoring soil nutrients and combating erosion are the two major objective since the soil fertility of the mixed farming region is found to be only at the intermediate level of enrichment. The emphasis on crops means less dependence on natural vegetation. In the United States farms with 80% of their areas under crops are not uncommon, while the national avenge is only 40%. Though animals constitute the major sources of income, in some farms crops are found to be more lucrative.
In the United States farm size varies from 120 to 200 acres whereas in Europe any such average is rather difficult to make the since the farm size may be anywhere between 50 acres and 500 acres in a single country. However, average farms in Europe are smaller than their counterparts in the United States, yet the European farms are found to yield greater return per unit land; this is attributed to efficient methods, the reliability of precipitation, excellent transportation, nearby markets and the employment of much cheap labour from families of factory workers during hoeing and harvesting seasons.
Many mixed farms grow industrial crops like sugar, tobacco, flax etc. In addition to arable crops, a herd of cattle or sheep is usually kept. They may be fed on the stubble of cereal crop or fodder crops. Cattle may be kept for butter, milk etc. and sheep for meat. Some mixed farms may also have land devoted to some fruits like apple cherries etc. This type of mixed farming is mostly found in Europe, especially in Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands. Mixed farms are generally characterized by high capital expenditure on tractors, machinery and by an extensive use of chemical fertilizers as well as green manure and also by skill and expertise of the farmers who need to know about all aspects of farming to grow and market their range of products successfully.
Next: Monsoonal Agriculture