Farming as a System

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Farming as a System

Any farm can be viewed as a system, with inputs, throughputs (or processes), outputs and feedback. The diagram shows how these link together:

Inputs can be divided into two groups.

Physical inputs are naturally occurring things such as water, raw materials and the land.

Human or Cultural Inputs are things like money, labour, and skills.

Processes or Throughputs are the actions within the farm that allow the inputs to turn into outputs. Processes could include things such as milking, harvesting and shearing.

Outputs can be negative or positive, although they are usually the latter. Negative outputs include waste products and soil erosion. The positive outputs are the finished products, such as meat, milk and eggs, and the money gained from the sale of those products.

Feedback is what is put back into the system. The main two examples of this are money, from the sale of the outputs, and knowledge, gained from the whole manufacturing process. This knowledge could then be used to make the product better or improve the efficiency of the processes.

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