The study of cellular Biology Topics is essential to understanding the workings of all living organisms.
Cropping Patterns in India – Types and Their Advantages
These are models of raising crops that help in obtaining maximum benefit from the same piece of land and reduce the risk of crop failure, disease, and infestation. Three common types of cropping patterns are mixed cropping, intercropping, and crop rotation.
Farming is an agricultural process of harnessing solar energy in the form of economic production of plants and animals. The Indian farmers depend a great deal on the monsoon rain for water. Monsoons sometimes bring very heavy rain and cause floods. Sometimes there are dry spells that lead to drought conditions.
Also, the amount of rainfall in a particular season is not dependable. Therefore, small and marginal farmers, particularly in the rain-fed regions cannot take the risk of growing specialized crops. They prefer a farming system, called mixed cropping which is the practice of growing two or more crops simultaneously on the same piece of land. It is an age-old practice in our country. Indian farmers used to mix the seeds of two crops and sow in the field.
1. Objective of Mixed Cropping: The basic objective of mixed cropping is to minimise the risk and insure against crop failure due to abnormal weather conditions.
2. Crop-combination used in mixed cropping: In India, the following combinations of crops are used by farmers in mixed cropping:
- Maize + Urad bean
- Cotton + Moong bean
- Groundnut + Sunflower
- Sorghum + Pigeon pea
- Wheat + Chickpea
- Barley + Chickpea
- Wheat + Mustard
3. Criteria for the selection of the crops for mixed cropping: While the selection of the crop is made for mixed cropping, the following criteria are maintained:
(i) The different crops to be grown together are so selected that the products and waste materials from one crop stimulate the growth of the other crop. For example, if a cereal crop such as wheat is grown along with a leguminous crop such as pulse (e.g., gram), then the uptake of nitrogen from the soil by the cereal is compensated by the nitrogen-fixing legume. This has two advantages: the fertility of the soil is increased and ultimately yield of the crop to is improved.
(ii) Care is taken to select crops that do not compete with each other for light, nutrients, and water. For example:
- One crop is of long duration and the other crop is of short duration. Thus, if one crop fails due to a shortage of moisture or nutrients, the other crop can cover the risk of complete failure.
- One crop is tall growing and the other is short growing. Thus, component crops used in mixed cropping have different canopies. The crop canopy means the structure of leaves, stems, and flowers found above ground.
- If one crop is deep-rooted, the other has shallow roots.
- One crop needs comparatively lesser water and nutrients than the other.
In mixed cropping
- Seeds of two crops are mixed before sowing and there is no definite pattern for sowing the seeds.
- The same fertilizers and pesticides are used for all crops.
- Products of different crops are harvested, threshed, marketed, and consumed in mixed form.
Advantages of Mixed Cropping:
- The risk of total crop failure due to uncertain monsoons is reduced.
- Farmers tend to harvest a variety of products such as cereal, pulses or vegetables, or fodder to meet the various requirements of a family or of an agricultural farm.
- Due to the complementary effect of component crops, the yield of both crops is increased, e.g., wheat and gram.
- The fertility of the soil is improved by growing two crops simultaneously.
- Chances of pest infestation are greatly reduced.
Intercropping is the practice of growing two or more crops simultaneously in the same field in definite row patterns with the objective of increasing productivity per unit area. The practice of intercropping is adopted by small farmers where farmers have the least access to irrigation. Intercropping is an improved version of mixed cropping. All the crop combinations in mixed cropping can also be practiced in intercropping. But row patterns are definite, 1 : 1, 1 : 2 or 1 : 3. It means after one row of the main crop, one, two, or three rows of intercrops can be grown.
Advantages of Intercropping:
- It makes better use of the natural resources of sunlight, land, and water.
- Soil erosion is effectively arrested.
- Since the seeds of the two crops are not mixed before sowing, fertilizers can be added as per the need of the crops.
- Since the seed maturity period of these crops varies, the different crops can be harvested and threshed separately.
- The produce of each crop can be marketed and consumed separately.
Comparison between mixed cropping and intercropping
|1. It aims to minimize the risk of crop failure.||1. It aims to increase productivity per unit area.|
|2. Seeds of two crops are mixed before sowing.||2. Seeds of two crops are not mixed.|
|3. It involves no set pattern of rows of crops.||3. It involves set patterns of rows of crops.|
|4. In this method there is a difficulty in fertilizer application to individual crops.||4. In intercropping fertilizer can be placed as per the need of the crops.|
|5. Spraying for pest control on individual crops is difficult.||5. Pesticides can be easily applied to individual crops.|
|6. Harvesting and threshing of crops separately are not possible.||6. Both crops can be easily harvested and threshed separately.|
|7. Marketing and consumption of only mixed produce are possible.||7. Product of each crop can be marketed and consumed separately.|
If we grow a crop continuously in the same field for many years, it results in various problems such as (i) depletion (deficiency) of the same types of nutrients and (ii) build-up of diseases and insect pests. This demands the requirement of the practice of crop rotation.
Crop rotation can be defined as the practice of growing of different crops on a piece of land in a preplanned succession. Depending upon the duration crop rotation may be of following three types.
Types of Crop Rotation
|Type of Crop Rotation||Component Crops involved in Rotation|
|1. One-Year Rotation||1. Maize – Mustard|
|2. Rice – Wheat|
|2. Two Years Rotation||1. Maize – Mustard – Sugarcane – Fenugreek (Methi)|
|2. Maize – Potato – Sugarcane – Peas|
|3. Three Years Rotation||1. Rice – Wheat – Moong – Mustard – Sugarcane – Berseem|
|2. Cotton – Oat-Sugarcane – Peas – Maize – Wheat|
Selection of Crops for Rotation
Most commonly, legumes are included in the crop rotation programme. They are used to increase soil fertility. Those crops which require a high fertility level (e.g., wheat) may be grown after growing legumes (e.g., peas). Thus, high-input crops such as sugarcane, potato, maize, wheat, and rice may be grown before low-input required crops.
This is necessary for maintaining soil fertility so that, crops of the same family should not be repeatedly grown in the same field. This practice will promote the build-up of diseases and insect pests and decrease the similar nutrients from the soil. Thus, while making a selection of crops for crop rotation, the following points should be considered:
- Availability of moisture through rain or irrigation;
- Status of nutrients in the soil;
- Availability of inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides, human power, and machine power;
- Duration of crop-short or long;
- Marketing and processing facilities.
The Norfolk Rotation: This is one of the best-known crop rotation techniques. It involves the growing of four crops in a given field over a period of four years. These crops are wheat (cereal), clover or bean (legume), barley (another cereal), and turnip or sugar beet (a root crop).
Advantages of Crop Rotation:
- It controls pests and weeds. Most pathogens survive on crop residue, but only for a limited time, and most pathogens do not infect multiple crops. By naturally breaking the cycles of weeds, insects, and diseases, the application and cost of insecticides may be reduced.
- Crop rotation reduces the need for fertilizers. For example, nitrogen supply is maintained in the crop field when leguminous crops are alternated with others.
[Note: Nitrogen fixers (e.g., Rhizobium meliloti of root-nodules of the soybean plant (Glycine max) work hardest when the nitrogen supply in their environment is low, adding nitrogen fertilizer to a legume crop shuts down bio fixation (nitrogen-fixation)].
- Several crops may be grown in succession with only one soil preparation (ploughing). For example, the land is ploughed for maize and the maize stubbles (which retain nutrients) are left on the land for wheat.
- By alternating between deep and shallow-rooted crops, the soil may be utilized more completely.