Improvements in Food Resources

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06 Cropping Patterns

(i) Mixed Cropping

  • The practice of cultivating two or more crops at the same time on the same strip of land is called mixed cropping.
  • Farming is an agricultural process of harnessing solar energy in the form of economic produce of plants and animals.
  • The Indian farmers depend a great deal on the monsoon rain for water. Sometimes, monsoon may bring heavy rains and cause floods while sometimes there may be dry spells and cause drought conditions.
  • Also, the amount of rainfall in a particular season is unpredictable.
  • And thus, the small and marginal farmers, particularly in the rain-fed regions cannot afford to take the risk of growing specialized crops.
  • Therefore, mixed cropping is an age old practice in our country.

TYPES OF MIXED CROPPING

Objective of mixed cropping: The basic objective of mixed cropping is to reduce the risk and insure against the crop failure due to abnormal and uncertain weather conditions.

Crop-combination used in mixed cropping: In India, the following combinations of the crops are used by farmers in mixed cropping:

  • Maize + Urad bean
  • Wheat + Chick pea
  • Groundnut + Sunflower
  • Sorghum + Pigeon pea
  • Cotton + Moong bean
  • Barley + Chick pea
  • Wheat + Mustard.

ADVANTAGES OF MIXED CROPPING

  • It minimizes the risk of total crop failure due to uncertain monsoon.
  • Farmers tend to harvest a variety of products like cereals, pulses or vegetables or fodder in order to meet the various requirements of family or of an agricultural farm.
  • Due to complementary effect of component crops, yield of both crops is increased, e.g.,
  • Wheat and gram.
  • Fertility of the soil is improved by growing two crops simultaneously.
  • It reduces the chances of pest infestation to a great extent.

INTERCROPPING

  • The practice of growing two or more crops simultaneously in the same field with definite row pattern is called ‘intercropping’.
  • It means after one row of main crop, one, two, or three rows of intercrops can be grown.

ADVANTAGES OF INTERCROPPING

  • It allows better utilization of the natural resources i.e. sunlight, land and water.
  • Soil erosion is effectively arrested.
  • As the seeds of the two crops are not mixed before sowing, fertilizers can be added depending upon the need of the crops.
  • As the seed maturity period of these crops may vary, the different crops can be harvested and threshed separately.
  • Each crop can be consumed and marketed separately.

CROP ROTATION

The practice of growing of different crops on the same piece of land in a preplanned succession is called crop rotation.

ADVANTAGES OF CROP ROTATION

  • It helps to control pests and weeds. Most pathogens tend to survive on crop residue only for a limited time, and also, 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 minimized.
  • Crop rotation also minimizes the need of fertilizers. For example nitrogen supply is maintained in the crop field when leguminous crops are alternated with others.
  • One soil preparation (ploughing) may allow several crops to grow in succession. For example, land is ploughed for maize and the maize stubbles (which retain nutrients) is left on the land for wheat.
  • By alternation between deep and shallow rooted crops, the soil may be utilized more completely.

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