Multiple Cropping Systems: Basic Examples/Types, Benefits

Multiple Cropping Systems definition, philosophy, basic examples/types, benefits, and adverse effects are given below-

Cropping system in Agriculture:

  • Polyculture: It is cultivating more than two types of crops grown together on a piece of land in a crop season. For instance; cow-pea+banana+guava, litchi + papaya + tuberose + soybean, mango + pineapple + turmeric under Agri + Horti + silvopastoral systems.
  • Dual culture: It is cultivating two types of crops grown together or two types of enterprises on a piece of land in a crop season, such as rice+fish, rice+azolla.
  • Monoculture: It is cultivating a single crop in a given field in a crop season, such as rice, jute, sugar cane, cotton, tobacco, potato, or green gram.
  • Monocropping: It is cultivating a single crop in a given field season after season or year after year, such as rice, jute, sugar cane, cotton, tobacco, potato, or green gram.

What is Multiple cropping? 

Definition: It is the practice of growing two or more two crops on the same field in a year. Multiple cropping involves the intensification of cropping in temporal and spatial dimensions. Multiple cropping is a philosophy of maximum crop production per land area with a minimum of soil health deterioration.

Multiple Cropping Systems

Multiple cropping philosophy

The philosophy is based on the concept that:

  • The high output is good for the soil;
  • The minimum tillage promotes soil tilth and conserves soil organic matter, thus resulting in good physical conditions;
  • The cover in the form of living mulch is a protection against all forms of erosion and weeds;
  • Residues of manures and fertilizers utilize appropriately;
  • The successive crop provides an opportunity for the efficient utilization of land, labor, capital, and other available resources;
  • There is scope for higher production with a higher rate of outturn.

What is Multiple cropping index (MCI)?

When the operational holding is considered, the multiple cropping index (MCI) is determined by the total area planted divided by the total arable (culturable) area. When the value is three or more, it is a most promising farm; this is also called intensive cropping.

Examples/Types of multiple cropping

In the most effective ways, multiple cropping is divided into two major categories-

  1. Sequential cropping
  2. Intercropping.

1. Sequential cropping system: 

Definition: Growing two or more crops in sequence on the same field per year is called sequential cropping. The next crop is planted after the preceding crop has been harvested; crop intensification is only in the time dimension; there is no intercrop competition. Farmers manage only one crop at a time in the same field.

Examples/Types of Sequential cropping

Four types of sequential cropping are generally practiced. They are:

  • Double cropping: growing two crops per year in sequence, for instance, rice followed by wheat or potato or mustard; maize followed by groundnut; wheat followed by cotton. Under this situation, cropping intensity is 200 percent.
  • Triple cropping: growing three crops per year in sequence (or in succession) in a field in a year so that cropping intensity is 300 percent, for instance, rice-potato-rice; rice-potato-cow pea, or cow pea-mustard-jute.
  • Quadruple cropping: growing four crops per year in sequence
  • Ratoon cropping: cultivation of crop regrowth after harvest, although not necessarily for grain.

2. Intercropping system: 

Definition: Growing two or more crops simultaneously on the same field is called intercropping. Crop intensification is both in temporal and spatial dimensions; intercrop competition occurs during all or part of the crop growth period. 

Intercropping is an old practice used by subsistence farmers, especially under rainfed conditions. It helps in arranging a balanced diet, reduces labor peak, and minimizes crop failure risk. It has also been suggested that intercropping reduces pests’ adverse effects, provides higher returns, and protects the soil against erosion.

Examples/Types of Intercropping

Intercropping may also be of four types:

  1. Mixed intercropping: growing two or more crops simultaneously with no distinct row arrangement.
  2. Row intercropping: growing two or more crops simultaneously; one or more crops planted in rows.
  3. Strip intercropping: growing two or more crops simultaneously in different strips wide enough to permit independent cultivation but narrow enough for the crops to interact agronomically.
  4. Relay intercropping: growing two or more crops simultaneously during part of the life cycle of each; a second crop is planted after the first crop has reached its reproductive stage of growth hut before it is ready for harvest.

What’s the benefits of multiple cropping? 

Modern intensive cropping systems have created the following good impact in Bangladesh:

  • Improved stability of food and feed supply throughout the year;
  • Increased productivity per unit area, time, input, and total production accompanied by an increase in the total income of the farmer;
  • Improved distribution of income throughout the year with quick out turns and thus an increased possibility of recycling working capital;
  • Increased total employment and distribution of labor and other capital use throughout the year and opportunities for on-farm seed production, preservation, processing, and marketing.
  • Minimized the scope of soil erosion and degradation;
  • Maximized the possible utilization of land, residual effects of manures, fertilizers, moisture, and management practices;
  • Minimized the rental value, irrigation charge, and other imputed costs per unit of production;
  • Broadened the scope to select and substitute crop varieties matching the agro-ecological situation, the cropping pattern, and programs based on home requirements and market competitions;
  • Extended the possibilities of almost complete removal of weeds as reduced fallow period minimizes the reproduction of weeds;
  • Improved the nutrition for the farm family from crop diversification;
  • Created employment opportunities for farm laborers and others related to the processing and marketing of agricultural products.

The adverse impact/disadvantage of multiple cropping: 

Due to intensive cropping, unfavorable effects have been observed in nutrient mining and soil health, resulting in soil degradation if it didn’t follow proper crop management practices.

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