of the producer, the quality of the soil and water, and the nature of the landscape and ecosystem within which agricultural production occurs. An integrated systems approach is necessary for the development of policies and programs to accelerate the adoption of farming systems that are viable for producers, that conserve soil quality, and that do not degrade water quality (Jackson and Piper, 1989).


A broad range of programs at the local, state, and federal levels seek to solve the environmental problems associated with agricultural production.


Development of an integrated farming system plan begins with an inventory of farm resources. This inventory is meant to provide the data to answer some of the following questions:

  • Are there opportunities to improve pest, nutrient, or soil management through crop rotation?

  • Are there livestock enterprises on the farm or nearby farms from which animal manures might be collected and used as nutrient inputs?

  • What amount of pest control inputs have been used in the past?

  • How are irrigation applications scheduled?

  • Are land ownership or lease arrangements an obstacle to changes in farm management?

  • Does the producer participate in U.S. farm programs?

  • Does the equipment inventory allow or hinder the capability to improve tillage practices and residue management?

  • How soon is tillage, application, or other capital equipment scheduled for replacement?

  • How aware are producers of problems in their operations?

  • What are producers' perceptions of the risks involved in changing their current farming systems?

Once a general picture of the farm enterprise emerges, more detailed information on production practices needs to be assembled. Often, records of input use, soil tests, crop yields, and other data are not available and must be constructed as completely as possible from memory to answer the following questions:

  • What is the crop rotation history on a field-by-field basis?

  • Are credits for the nitrogen fixed by legumes taken when making fertilizer applications?

  • Has manure routinely been applied only to a small, particular area?

  • Have particular pest problems been associated with a particular field, a particular area within a field, or a particular crop or cropping sequence?

  • What do soil analyses indicate about the relative soil quality and soil fertility between fields?

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