Agriculture is the most fundamental form of human activity. It includes not only the cultivation of crops, but also the domestication of animals. It is practised in different regions of the world, particularly, in river valleys and where irrigation is possible; it is also practiced under multiple combinations of physical and socio-economic conditions, which gives rise to different types of agricultural system. The important agricultural systems which are practiced around the world are discussed below:
1. Nomadic Herding
Northern Africa, parts of Arabia and parts of Northern Eurasia are the typical regions of this type of farming. This type of farming is based upon the rearing of animals on natural pastures. This practice is followed by the people of the semi-arid and arid regions. They keep moving with their animals in search of natural pastures and lead a nomadic life.
2. Shifting Cultivation
It is a type of subsistence farming, where a plot of land has been cultivated for a few years until the crop yield declines due to soil exhaustion and the effects of pests and weeds. Crops such as rain fed rice, corn, wheat, small millets, root crops and vegetables are grown in this system. 85% of the total cultivation in North-East India is done by shifting cultivation. Once crop yield has stagnated, the plot of land is deserted and the new ground is cleared by slash and burn methods, leaving the land to replenish. This is widely practised by tribes of tropical Africa, tropical south and Central America and in south-east Asia.
3. Intensive Subsistence Agriculture
In this type of farming system, crops are grown mainly for local consumption. If there is a surplus, then it is sold in the market. This type of farming is largely found in densely populated regions of monsoon Asia.
Basically, there are two types of intensive subsistence agriculture. One is dominated by wet paddy and other is dominated by crops such as sorghum, soybeans, sugarcane, maize, and vegetables. Areas of Intensive Subsistence Farming are: Tonking Delta (Vietnam), lower Menem (Thailand); lower Irrawaddy (Myanmar); and the Ganga-Brahmaputra Delta, Eastern Coastal Plains (India).
4. Commercial Dairy Farming
It had its origin in Europe from where it spread to other areas. Close proximity to the market and temperate climate are the two favourable factors. Countries like Denmark and Sweden have witnessed the maximum development of this type of farming.
5. Commercial Grain Cultivation
This type of agriculture system is mainly practised in the Eurasian steppes in regions of chernozem soil, Canadian and American Prairies, the Pampas of Argentina, the Veld of South Africa, the Australian Downs and the Canterbury Plain of New Zealand. In this system of agriculture are characterised by- The main characteristics of this type of agriculture are: highly mechanised cultivation; farms are very large; predominance of wheat; and low yield per acre but yield per capita is high.
6. Livestock Ranching
It is practised mainly in extensive temperate grasslands but up to some extent it is also practised in tropical savannas (I.e. Campos and Llanos of South America). In the permanent ranches, large number of cattle, sheep, goats and horses are kept. They are used to produce beef, mutton and wool for both home market and export.
7. Mediterranean Agriculture
It is practised within the Mediterranean climatic region where winter is wet and summer is dry. Farming is intensive, highly specialised and varied in the kind of crops raised. Many crops such as wheat, barley and vegetables are raised for domestic consumption, while other like citrus fruits, olives and grapes are grown mainly for export.
That's why this region is also called Orchard Lands of the World and it is the heart of the world's wine industry. This region is famous for world for the production of citrus fruits and grapes in the world.
8. Mixed Farming
This type of agricultural systems is found in the highly developed parts of the world: north-western Europe, eastern North America, Russia, Ukraine, and the temperate latitudes of parts of the southern continents. Farming is very intensive and sometimes highly specialised. Traditionally, farmers have practised a mixed economy by raising animals and growing crops on the same farm.
9. Market Gardening and horticulture
It is practised mainly in the same region as that of mixed farming that consists of cultivation of vegetables fruit and flowers solely for the urban market. It is well-developed in the densely populated industrial districts of north-western Europe (Britain, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany) and in North-Eastern USA. It is also called Truck Farming.
10. Commercial Plantation
This type of farming has developed in parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America, where the influence of the Europeans have been important during the colonial period. Though, practiced over a rather small area, this type of farming is quite important in terms of its commercial value. Tea, coffee, rubber and oil palm are the major products of this type of farming. Most of the plantations were developed to provide some of the important tropical crops to the European markets. This is a highly capital intensive farming and most of the crops are tree crops.