Cropping pattern refers to the proportion of land under cultivation of different crops at different points of time. This indicates the time and arrangement of crops in a particular land area. Any change in the cropping pattern would cause:
change in the proportion of land under different crops
change in space sequence and time of crops
In India, the cropping pattern is determined by rainfall, temperature, climate, technology and soil type.
In order to obtain maximum yields, different patterns of cropping are practised. The major cropping patterns include the following:
Monocropping reduces soil fertility and destroys the structure of the soil. Chemical fertilizers are required to upgrade production. This practice allows the spread of pests and diseases.
When two or more crops are grown on the same land simultaneously, it is known as mixed cropping. For eg., growing wheat and gram on the same land at the same time is mixed cropping. This practice minimizes the risk of failure of one of the crops and insures against crop failure due to abnormal weather conditions.
The crops to be grown together should have a different maturation time and different water requirements. One tall and one dwarf crop should be grown together. The nutrients required by one crop should be less than those required by the other. One crop should have deep roots, other’s should be shallow. All these criteria lead to a successful mixed cropping pattern.
Advantages of Mixed Cropping
The crop yield increases.
The pest infestation is minimized.
Reduction in the risk of crop failure.
The soil is utilized properly.
More than one variety of crops can be harvested at the same time.
Intercropping is the practice of growing more than one crop on the same field at the same time in a definite row pattern. After one row of the main crop, three rows of intercrops can be grown. This increases productivity per unit area.
Intercropping can be of different types:
When the component crops are arranged in alternate rows it is known as row intercropping. It helps in optimum utilization of land space and suppression of weeds during the early stages of the main crop.
When two or more crops are grown in wide strips so that the two crops can be managed separately, it is known as strip cropping. However, the crops are close enough to interact.
In this type of intercropping, a second crop is planted when the existed crop has flowered but not harvested. For eg., Rice-Cauliflower-Onion-Summer gourds.
Advantages of Intercropping
The fertility of the soil is maintained.
The spread of diseases and pests is controlled.
Optimum utilization of resources.
The space and time of growing more than one crop are saved.
Maximum utilization of nutrients present in the soil.
Maize and soybean, bajra and lobea are some of the crops grown as intercrops.
In this pattern, different crops are grown on the same land in preplanned succession. The crops are classified as one-year rotation, two-year rotation, and three-year rotation, depending upon their duration.
Legumes are included in the crop rotation programme to increase soil fertility. The crops which require high fertility level (wheat) can be grown after the legumes. The crops which require low inputs can be grown after the crops that require high inputs.
How are the crops selected for Rotation?
While selecting the crops for rotation, the following criteria should be adopted:
Enough moisture should be available.
Availability of fertilizers, man-power, and machine-power.
Marketing and processing facilities.
Availability of nutrients in the soil.
The crop duration- short or long.
Advantages of Crop Rotation
The soil fertility is maintained for a prolonged period.
The growth of weeds and pests is prevented.
A lot of chemical fertilizers are not required.
The physical and chemical nature of the soil remains unaltered.
Factors Affecting Cropping Patterns
The cropping patterns determine the level of agricultural production. This reflects the agricultural economy of any region.
The cropping patterns are affected by changes in agrarian policy, availability of agricultural inputs, improvement in technology.
Thus, the cropping patterns are beneficial in improving the fertility of the soil, thereby, increasing the yield of the crops. It ensures crop protection and availability of nutrients to the crops.
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