A cropping system refers to the management and organization of agricultural crops in a field or farming operation. The choice of cropping system depends on various factors, including climate, soil type, available resources, and the goals of the farmer. Different cropping systems can be used to maximize crop yield, improve soil health, conserve water, and enhance sustainability.
Terms used in the cropping system
Crop intensification techniques conclude intercropping, sequence cropping, and relay cropping all such terms come under the general term multiple cropping. To date, there is no complete agreement on the terms used in cropping systems. The first organised attempt to provide guidelines based on the options of a wide range of specialists occurred in the symposium on multiple cropping in 1975 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Agronomy in Knoxville, Tennessee, Resukts of consensus at the meeting were summarised by Andrews and Kas (1976)
Types of Cropping System
1. Mono Cropping :
- Also called Monoculture, Single Cropping.
- It is a system of growing of same crop on the same land year after year.
2. Multiple Cropping :
- It is a system of growing two or more crops on the same land year after year.
- It is intensification in time and space.
- There are sub-types of multiple cropping as follows –
a. Mixed Cropping :
- Cultivation of two or more two crops simultaneously on the same land without a definite row pattern or fixed ratio.
- Sowing by broadcasting.
- Commonly practised in dryland areas.
- It was later modified into intercrop.
- The scientific study of mixed cropping 1st done by La-Filtze (1928)
- eg. Sorghum, Pearl millet and Cowpea are mixed and broadcasted in rainfed conditions.
b. Inter Cropping :
Growing two or more crops on the same piece of land with a definite row arrangement or in an affixed ration is called intercropping. E.g. Wheat + Mustard = 9:1 Soybean + Red gram = 6:1 / 4:1 There is intercrop competition during all or part of crop growth. Types of Inter Cropping :
i. Row Inter Cropping :
Growing two or more crops simultaneously where one or more crops are planted in rows. E.g. Maize + Green gram (1 : 1) Maize + Black gram (1 : 1) Groundnut + Red gram (6 : 1)
ii. Strip Inter-Cropping:
Growing two or more crops simultaneously in strips wide enough to permit independent cultivation but narrow enough for the crops to interact agronomically. E.g. Groundnut + Red gram (6 : 4) strip.
iii. Relay Inter Cropping / Overlapping cropping :
Growing two or more crops simultaneously during the part of the life cycle of each. A second crop is planted after the first crop has reached its reproductive stage of growth but, before it is ready for harvest. E.g. Rice – rice fallow – pulse Potato planted before harvesting of maize.
c. Sequence / Sequential Cropping :
- Growing of two or more crops in sequence on the same field in a farming year.
- The succeding crop is planted after the preceding crop has been harvested.
- Crop intensification is only in time of dimensions.
- There is no intercrop competition.
- There are types of sequence cropping: Double, Triple and Quadruple cropping, Ratoon cropping.
- Growing two, three and four crops, respectively, on the same land in a year in sequence.
- E.g 1) Double cropping:- Rice: Cotton
- 2) Triple cropping:- Rice: Rice: Pluses
- 3) Quadruple cropping:- Tomato: Ridge gourd: Amaranthus greens: Baby corn
- Ratoon Cropping :
- The cultivation of crop re-growth after harvest, although not necessarily for grain.
- E.g. Sugarcane: ratoon, Sorghum: ratoon (for fodder)
In conclusion, cropping systems are fundamental to agricultural management and organization. These systems are shaped by factors such as climate, soil type, available resources, and the goals of the farmer. Different cropping systems, including mono-cropping and multiple cropping with subtypes like mixed cropping, intercropping, and sequence cropping, offer diverse approaches to maximize crop yield, enhance soil health, conserve water, and promote sustainability in agriculture. The choice of a cropping system is a critical decision for farmers, as it can significantly impact their productivity and the overall health of their farming operation.