Conclusion

Continued mechanization of agricultural practices will occur where it is economically feasible, and draft animals will be replaced on those farms that can justify maintenance and use of two- or four-wheeled tractor power. On steep, inaccessible, or terraced hillsides, and on mixed farms where farm size and scale of crop production are small, animal power is still a better option than motorized power to supplement manual labor. On small farms of less than 3 ha, animal power can compete economically with gasoline-fueled tractors. Farmers using animal power will have to cope with competition for their land from a growing human population and increasing pressure on natural resources. This is likely to lead to the cultivation of more marginal land and greater use of animals for multiple purposes (e.g., work and milk or work and meat). Cropping of marginal land will require more attention to soil and water conservation and animal-drawn tillage techniques. Reduction of grazing land may require more farmers to move to a cut-and-carry system of managing their work animals. With the need to use resources more efficiently, it is important to recognize that animal energy can be harnessed to provide several income-generating activities for the smallholder farmer outside of their use in the production of food and cash crops. More versatile, and therefore more frequent, use of animal power is an ideal way to spread the maintenance costs. A resting draft animal still uses resources, unlike a resting tractor. Hence, broader use of animal power in the areas where it is found should also be encouraged.

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