What is Continuous Cropping? Advantages and Disadvantages

What is continuous cropping? Advantages and Disadvantages

Meaning of Continuous Cropping; Agricultural practices differs from area to area. Each area practices the one that is suitable for them. Such Agricultural system or practice maybe prompted by a lot of factors. For some farmers, they inherited such practices from their forefathers and have not seen the need to upgrade or change to another one. Here, we will be looking at a farming system known as continuous cropping. Continuous cropping is the farming system whereby crop is grown in successive sessions in the same piece of land. The farmer may decide to grow the same crop or a mixture of crop year in and year out for five or more years.

There are a lot of factors that can promote such farming practice. This can be as a result of shortage of farmland in a given area with high population. It can also be as a result of a farmland that is on lease for a particular number of years and the farmer decides to maximize its use in order to cover the money spent on renting the land. In another instance, some land that are fertile maybe subjected to this kind of practice if there are no other fertile lands to move to. Equally, some land maybe subjected to this kind of practice if they are suitable for the growth of a particular kind of crop. For instance, To grow onions, a well drained level land is required.

Advantages of Continuous Cropping

This type of farming system has its own advantages which I will discuss below;

1. It saves the time, cost and energy of clearing a new farmland

In this method of farming, the need of clearing the farmland is reduced because it reduces the growth of weeds. Unlike in other methods like shifting cultivation or bush fallowing, where the land will need to be cleared by slash or burning. In continuous cropping, only small weeds that can be easily removed are seen. This therefore saves the cost of hiring labour as well as the time and energy required in doing so.

2. It makes more land available for cultivation in densely populated areas

This farming system is suitable in areas where there are shortage of land as I pointed out earlier with high population. The Agricultural needs of people residing in such areas are achieved through this method. Some areas who have small portion of fertile soil also benefits from such practice.

3. It encourages the planting of a particular crop specie in a favourable environment

Continuous Cropping is advantageous in areas whereby environmental conditions favours the growth of a particular crop specie. Such area of land is well utilized to encourage the production of such crop.

Disadvantages of Continuous Cropping

1. It leads to the loss of soil nutrients

The farming activities going on in such piece of land year in and out may lead to the depletion of soil nutrients. This can be observed when the productivity level of such plot of land starts reducing. Some farmers may use various ways inorder to restore the nutrients in this land. Others maybe forced to move away and give the land a break.

2. Heavy build up of pests and diseases year by year

Continuous Cropping gives the chance for the buildup of pests and diseases. Due to the fact that the land is not allowed to fallow so that it will be properly cleared or burnt, such pests hangs around waiting for the next crop to be planted. This method of farming do not equally give the farmer the opportunity to properly access how to handle the outbreak of pests and diseases.

3. It makes the soil prone to erosion

The continuous farming that takes place in this farmland will make the soil loosened and well drained which makes it prone to erosion. Erosion that occurs in this farmland will wash away the top soil and other soil nutrients thereby reducing the fertility of the soil.

4. The farmer spends more money trying to restore the fertility of the soil

Each time a new crop is successively planted on the same farmland, there is a reduction in the pH level, chemical nutrients and other useful nutrients and organisms in the soil. The farmer will spend money in purchasing enough fertilizer, mulching of the farmland in order to maintain and restore its fertility.

5. The farmer may incur a significant loss

It is of no doubt that with time, the crop yield of such a farmland will decline. This will cause the farmer to incur a heavy loss. Other factors mentioned above such as erosion, outbreak of pests and diseases and the expenses involved in restoring and maintaining the land may cost a significant amount of loss to the farmer.

6. It discourages the growth and planting of perennial crops

Such system of farming do not promote the planting of perennial crops. This is because perennial crops requires more years to grow. The existing perennial crops in such farmlands may not grow adequately due to the loss of available nutrients. Even shallow rooted perennial crops will be disturbed by this farming activities.

Various cropping system exists. Each farmer or given area adopts the one that is favourable to them. I believe I have answered your question on “What is continuous cropping?”. Keep visiting for more interesting Agricultural topics.

Also Read; What is Shifting Cultivation? Advantages and Disadvantages

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