Why mixed farming is a good option

Mr Michael Ssali

What you need to know:

"Depending on the size of the farm holding, it is wise for the farmer to reserve some land for growing trees”

Why mixed farming is a good option 

Mixed farming is the practice of carrying out different farming activities on the same land.  When a farmer grows a variety of crops and at the same time keeps livestock such a farmer is described as a mixed farmer. A farmer who grows crops and keeps livestock is at an advantage because his farm becomes its own insurance against losses. There are many uncertainties in farming. Sometimes rains fail and other times diseases strike crops or livestock. 

Rainstorms sometimes occur and cause devastating destruction to crops. But if the farmer keeps livestock such as poultry or cattle and also grows crops and loses some of his birds due to disease or some other calamity, such a farmer will still get money from the sale of crops. The cash earned from the sale of crops will indemnify him against the loss incurred by the loss of his hens.

People practicing mixed farming often don’t have to worry so much about purchasing organic manure to fertilize their gardens. 
The droppings of such animals as cattle, pigs, goats, or even poultry are readily available to the farmer. Any grass spread out in the space where the animals spend the night, (usually described as animal beddings) can be used by the farmer as manure. 

Correspondingly, any crop residues --- banana peelings, maize stalks, bean leaves, and sweet potato vines --- can be used to feed livestock. The farmer therefore spends less on livestock feeds.
Mixed farming often involves fodder trees and fodder grass growing. Fodder trees and fodder grass mitigate soil erosion by wind or running rainwater. 

The practice of agro-ecology reduces the farmers’ urge to invade forests for firewood. Some fodder trees are nitrogen fixing and add nutrients to the soil but they can also be turned into firewood when they become too old. 
People who practice mixed farming grow their own firewood and their families have a higher chance of feeding on a balanced diet consisting of both animal and plant protein. 

Depending on the size of the farm holding it is wise for the farmer to reserve some land for growing trees. Some land is not good for crop production but it should not be kept idle. 
Farmers constantly need timber for construction of simple structures on the farm and it is cheaper to obtain the timber by growing some trees right on the farm.  

Mr Michael Ssali is a veteran journalist, 
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