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In the agricultural industry, there are many strategies for operating farms of all sizes. The various strategies for managing a farm can generally be categorized into agricultural systems. These agricultural management strategies typically describe whether farmers use pesticides or are organic, whether they are self-contained or interact with the surrounding environment, and whether farmers use strict measurements and plans or follow their intuition to make decisions on their farms.
Examples of natural agricultural systems might include pest control programs that use aphids that ladybugs. It is only a natural system if the ladybugs arrived naturally. If a person purchases ladybugs and introduces them to a farm to control, the ladybugs become part of an artificial system of agriculture, which is any system made by humans or to serve human needs. Social agricultural systems are generally the communities and methods of sharing information that farmers use to acquire information to solve problems.
Agricultural systems can also be explicit or implicit, and descriptive or operational. When a farm uses an explicit agricultural system, the farmer weighs or measures exact amounts of nutrients like fertilizer, water, or pesticides. This type of agricultural system is most common in high-production, for-profit farming.
Though explicit farming involves careful measurement of agricultural elements and close adherence to planned methods, most farmers use an element of implicit farming when they observe their crops and adjust for unexpected changes. In implicit agricultural systems, farmers use less strict measurement. Farmers who use systems based on implicit agricultural theory often use some explicit elements, like farming books and almanacs, to better meet their agricultural goals.
Agricultural systems also include static or dynamic systems, and open or closed systems. Generally, a dynamic agricultural system is one that is constantly changing to account for changes in the environment, as a static agricultural system tends to stay the same. An agricultural system that is open will contain or interact with parts of the local environment, while a closed agricultural system does not interact with the local environment at all. For example, a greenhouse lettuce farm is a relatively closed environment compared to an outdoor lettuce farm.