Types of Agricultural Practices | Pros and Cons

There are several steps of agriculture practices that eased farming methods and improved their productivity. Following are the world’s most adapted types of agricultural practices that vary from region to region. However, these types of farming practices changed the perspective of global farming.

Agriculture is a science which deals with crop cultivation and animal rearing for socio-economic benefits. It is an ancient practice that is used to produce food, fiber, and other necessary products and to earn a livelihood. Agriculture has played a significant role in human civilization and referred to as the basics of revolution.

To support the population in cities, plants and animal domestication were further transformed into several types of agricultural practices. Being the most widely adapted profession in the world, every region has its own native crops, cropping methods, technical approaches, and types of animals.

Top 11 Types of Agricultural Practices

Below the 11 most adapted types of agricultural practices along with their advantages and disadvantages are given:

  1. Pastoral Farming
  2. Arable Farming
  3. Shifting Agriculture
  4. Mixed Farming
  5. Nomadic Agriculture
  6. Sedentary Agriculture
  7. Subsistence Farming
  8. Commercial Agriculture
  9. Intensive Farming
  10. Extensive Farming
  11. Crop Rotation
  12. Plantation Agriculture

Pastoral Farming

Pastoral farming one of the most ancient types of farming practices. Pastoral farming is the animal raising practice only exhibits in cold and humid environments, which are not ideal for crop cultivation. These steep slopes are less nutritive and structured to support the growth of plants and the use of mechanization. These lands are generally suitable for grasses and weeds.

The probability of crop damage is higher in slopy areas because of the strong winds and high-water flow during rainfalls. Slopy areas are more favorable for the rearing of sheep not for dairy animals. Sheep can feed on grasses and can easily adapt to cold and humid environments.

Advantages of Pastoral Farming

  • Can be practiced in dry regions
  • Less burden on ground-water
  • Increase carbon sequestration
  • Animal manure is used as fertilizer

Disadvantages of Pastoral Farming

  • Need to sell animals for food
  • Less finical insurance
  • Land erosion due to overgrazing
  • Pandemics can kill animals

Arable Farming

Arable farming only involves the cultivation of crops. It does not involve the rearing of animals. Major purpose of arable farming is the cultivation of food crops to fulfill human needs. It can be performed on small scale, commercial, or on large agricultural farms.

This farming practice is mainly used to fulfill the rising demand for food and a healthy lifestyle. It mainly involves the cultivation of annual crops e.g., vegetables, grains, legumes, and potatoes.

Advantages of Arable Farming

  • More cultivated land
  • Increased productivity
  • Increase product diversity

Disadvantages of Arable Farming

  • Expensive mechanical cost
  • Depletion of soil fertility
  • High crop maintenance cost, weed, and pest control.

Shifting Agriculture

Shifting agriculture involves the cultivation of crops on forest lands after clearing or burning the forest in the tropics. Native people practice farming on forest land until land loses its fertility. It generally takes three to five years for the land to lose its fertility or to grow overtaken by native flora.

Once the land loses its fertility, farmers move to the next forest and repeat the process in the coming years. This farming is mainly adopted in the tropics for the purpose of producing grains.

However, this type of activity is highly unfavorable for a sustainable environment, therefore environmentalists are strongly against its practice. Apart from other types of agricultural practices,

Advantages of Shifting Agriculture

  • No need to apply fertilizer
  • Best practice to regain fertility
  • Reduce pest infestation
  • Burning proves effective weed and disease control

Disadvantages of Shifting Agriculture

  • Low yield
  • Reduce forest area
  • Shift land, again and again, makes it tedious.
  • No land ownership

Mixed Farming

Mixed farming is one of the most adapted types of farming practices. It is a practice that involves the cultivation and rearing of plants and animals at the same time. This mainly practiced in humid regions and is widely adopted in Europe.

It is a continuous type of cropping practice that involves growing of a variety of crops varying in their maturity period and sowing methods. Proper irrigation facilities and optimum rainfall are very essential for the success of this farming system.

Advantages of Mixed Farming

  • Continuous production
  • Increase per capita profit
  • Reduce external dependency
  • Animal waste is used as manure, reduces fertilizer cost
  • Enhance biodiversity

Disadvantages of Mixed Farming

  • Due to multiple farming, maintenance becomes difficult
  • High knowledge is necessary
  • Doubles the stress factors

Nomadic Agriculture

Among all types of agricultural practices, nomadic agriculture is a type of practice in which native people graze their animals on natural pastures. Nomads keep migrating with their animals in search of food, water, and pastures. This agricultural practice is mainly done in arid and semiarid areas of the world.

Animals like goats, sheep, camel, cattle, horses, and donkeys are common in nomadic herds.

Advantages of Nomadic Agriculture

  • Easy migration
  • Large population groups move together
  • Specialized workers
  • Reliable food supply

Disadvantages of Nomadic Agriculture

  • Unstable food supply
  • High risk of disease and stress factors due to large gathering groups
  • The danger of hunters and robbers

Sedentary Agriculture

Sedentary agriculture is commonly practiced in the tropics, and it is a consistent type of farming that is repeated again and again on the same piece of land. Once the land loses its fertility, the land is left uncultivated for some years so it can regain its fertility.

In sedentary agriculture, commonly cultivated crops involve tree plants and grains.

Advantages of Sedentary Agriculture

  • Low labor cost
  • Low fuel cost
  • Less soil erosion

Disadvantages of Sedentary Agriculture

  • Land loses its fertility
  • High risk of disease and pest resilience

Subsistence Farming

Among several types of farming practices, this type focuses exclusively on the farmer and his family’s needs. In this agricultural practice cultivation of crops and rearing of animals is usually limited to small scale, low input, and consistent yield. The old and tractional cropping methods are used in this practice.

Due to small-scale farming, it is mainly adopted by the poor farmers which cannot afford the latest technologies and agricultural inputs, resulting in low yield. Therefore, the actual output remains limited to farmer’s families.

Advantages of Subsistence Farming

  • Cheap and cost-efficient
  • Employment source
  • Fulfill farmer own needs

Disadvantages of Subsistence Farming

  • Insufficient yield
  • Less crop diversity
  • Single-family produce
  • Depends on natural soil fertility
  • Severe effects of changing climate

Commercial Agriculture

Commercial agriculture is a practice in which commercial crops and trees are grown for commercial purposes. It is also known as industrialized agriculture.

Commercial agriculture mainly needs large landscapes to produce high quality and quantity crops and trees. However, farmers are practicing it on small scale because of its high commercial value. Major commercial crops are tea, coffee, rubber, coconut, grapes, mangoes, apples, avocado, and palm-oil.

The plantation cost of these crops is usually high because the majority of commercial crops are tree crops.

Advantages of Commercial Agriculture

  • Improve Infrastructure
  • Low price of product
  • Enhanced food security
  • Production of raw material
  • Low production cost

Disadvantages of Commercial Agriculture

  • Destroy natural forests
  • Reduction in crop farmlands, due to the high interest of farmer in commercial agriculture
  • Promote the high use of fertilizers
  • Increases land rates

Intensive Farming

Among types of agricultural practices, Intensive farming is a major practice in high rainfall and tropical regions having a diverse plant population. This farming is commonly done on large scale and it also shares the national economy.

Rice is one of the examples of intensive crops that are intensively cultivated in several regions of the world. It is a dual-purpose crop that is domesticated for food and export purposes. Farmers also plant several other intensive grain crops in these areas which are also high yielding.

Intensive farming is a widespread practice in the world including Central America, south and north Africa, Asia and several regions of the Middle East.

Advantages of Intensive Farming

  • High yield
  • Easy farm supervision
  • More economical
  • Highly environment protective

Disadvantages of Intensive Farming

  • Increase the use of fertilizer and chemical use
  • Poor conditions for livestock
  • Destruction of forest
  • Contaminated fruits, vegetables, and farm produce

Extensive Farming

This farming practice involves the rearing of cattle and sheep in low productive agricultural zones, mainly used to cultivate wheat, oil and grain crops, and barley.  It is commonly practiced in the USA, Argentina, Peru.

This farming practice needs fewer fertilizers and artificial supplements which make it a more environment-friendly practice. However, the actual yield is less than the current global demand which makes it less popular among farmers and agriculturists.

Advantages of Extensive Farming

  • Less use of pesticide
  • Less deforestation
  • No loss of biodiversity

Disadvantages of Extensive Farming

  • Low yield
  • Less income
  • Insufficient food

Crop Rotation

Crop rotation is one of the types of agricultural practices that involves the rotation of cultivational crops in the same land during different growing seasons. This practice assists the soil in regaining its fertility and lost nutrients during an earlier crop harvest.

It also reduces the incidence of environmental factors and their effects on crop productivity and resistance to stress factors.

A usual example of crop rotation is wheat – turnip – barely – clover – corn silage.

Advantages of Crop Rotation

  • Improve soil fertility
  • High yield
  • Enhance soil nutrients
  • Less soil erosion
  • Reduce pest, weed, and disease infestation
  • Improve soil structure
  • Improve microbial activity

Disadvantages of Crop Rotation

  • Diverse crop growing conditions
  • More skillful
  • Necessary crop diversification
  • Low financial returns