Introduction to Agriculture: Methods of farming - Form 1 Agriculture Notes

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Methods of Farming

- A method of farming is an established way of carrying out farming activities.

- The following are the common methods of farming: 


Agroforestry - Involves growing of trees and crops and keeping of animals on the same piece of land.

Advantages and disadvantages of agroforestry

Suitable trees for agroforestry

  • Leucaena leucocephala
  • Gravillea robusta
  • Calliandra catothrysus
  • Mangiifera indica
  • Sesbania sesban
  • Lantana camara
  • Cajanus cajan

Advantage of Agroforestry

  • Saves labour since some operations can be done at once for both plants and trees
  • Gives higher combined yield
  • Provide wide variety of agricultural produce
  • Reduces the risks of total failure
  • Crops benefit from nitrogen fixing trees.
  • Trees help in holding the soil firmly
  • Some trees act as livestock fodder.
  • Provides a wider variety of agricultural produce.

Shifting Cultivation

- Farming on a piece of land continuously until it is exhausted after which the farmer moves to a more fertile land.

shifting cultivation

Advantages of shifting cultivation.

  • It has low capital requirement
  • There is no pests and diseases build-up
  • Soil structure is maintained
  • No land disputes as land ownership is not individualized.

Disadvantages of shifting cultivation

  • Total yields per unit are is low
  • Farmers have no incentive to develop land and conserve water and soil
  • A lot of time is wasted when the farmer is shifting and building structures.
  • Not applicable in areas of high population density or where there is high population increase.

Organic Farming 

Organic farming is a method in which crops are grown and animals reared without use of artificial fertilizers or chemicals for pest control. 

organic farming


  • Makes use of locally available materials
  • Used to improve the soil structure
  • More affordable and cost effective
  • Better land sustainability for future use
  • Reduces chemical toxicity


  • Labour intensive
  • Time required to reach the standard

Mixed Farming 

- It is the practice of growing crops and keeping of livestock on the same land.

- Its common in high potential areas. 


  • Mutual benefit between crops and livestock.
  • Crops supply feed for animals while animals supply manure for crops.
  • Acts as an insurance against total loss by the farmer.
  • The farmer is assured of an income throughout the year.
  • There is maximum utilization of the resources.
  • Animals can be used in the farm activities particularly draught animals.
  • Ensures proper utilization of labour and land throughout the year. 


  • High initial capital.
  • Lack of specialization.
  • Land can be a limiting factor if both enterprises are to be raised.
  • Requires high level of management for both enterprises. 


- This is the practice of livestock rearing whereby animals are moved from one place to another in search of water and pastures.

- It is practiced in the arid and semi-arid areas where in most cases beef animals are kept.

- Nomadic pastoralism is gradually changing to ranching with the introduction of: 

  • Improved pasture species, improved livestock breeds and supplementary feeding.
  • Efficient disease and parasite control measures.
  • Improved infra-structure such as roads, water supply, cattle dipping facilities.
  • Extension services. 


  • Serves as the backbone of beef industry in Kenya.
  • Proper way of utilizing the arid and semi arid areas.
  • Source of income to the pastoral communities. 


  • It encourages the spread of livestock pests and diseases due to communal watering points, grazing and dipping facilities.
  • There is a tendency to increased soil erosion and land degradation.
  • Source of conflicts and ethnic tension among the nomadic communities for the control of good pastures and water.
  • Difficult to control breeding and breeding diseases.
  • High rate of inbreeding leading to poor quality livestock.
  • Low production of milk, meat, hides and skins due to wastage of energy in traveling from one place to another in search of pastures and water.
  • High death rates as a result of walking for long distances. 
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