What is Mixed Cropping? Types, Advantages and Disadvantages

What is mixed cropping? Types, Advantages and Disadvantages

What is mixed cropping? Due to its importance to a nation, Agricultural systems have continued to garner more attention as the day goes by. Each system of Agriculture has its importance and this is why even with ages, these practices continues to exist. Here, we will be looking at a farming system known as Mixed cropping. Mixed cropping is a farming practice whereby more than one crop is planted on a plot of land at the same time. This type of farming practice is mostly found among small scale and subsistence farmers.

In mixed cropping, a farmer may decide to plant yam, maize, tomato, vegetables and cassava on the same piece of land and at the same time. In West African countries, this practice is common. This can be attributed to the poor farming implements and methods used by this farmer as well as the fact that most of them are low scale production farmers as mentioned earlier.

Types of Mixed Cropping

Having known the meaning of mixed farming, it is also important to know the various types of it as you will see below;

1. Inter Planting

In this method, the crops are planted at different dates. The farmer then, harvests the one that is planted first. For instance, a farmer may decide to interplant maize with cassava. He will plant the maize first, after which he will harvest the maize, and harvest the cassava later. The farmer that practices such method will take into consideration the maturation period of such crops.This is due to the fact that each crop has its own maturation period. So the farmer will put this into consideration while doing inter planting so as to know the crop to be planted first. Another thing that is also considered while doing interplanting is how each crop grows. For instance, if cassava is planted first, its shade from the leaves may not allow the maize to grow properly, hence, the need to plant the maize first.

2. Inter cropping

In this type of mixed cropping, two crops are planted on the same piece of land and the last crop planted is harvested first before the first one. For example, yam can be inter cropped with cowpea, cowpea can be planted after the yam is planted and harvested later. Another reason for this type of farming is that some crops will require a lesser amount of sunlight to grow, the first crop planted will provide shade for it. Also, the leaves of the first crop planted can act as a source of manure to the last crop, in addition to these, not all crops can withstand heavy rains, the first crop will also provide shade for it. All these are being put into consideration in this type of farming method.

3. Relay Cropping

In this type of mixed cropping, a second crop is planted and continues to grow in the same year after the first crop is being harvested. This type of practice maybe Considered if the soil is still fertile enough for the second crop.

Advantages of Mixed Cropping

This cropping system has its own advantages as can be seen below;

1. Some crops will provide nutrients to others

There are some crops whose remains will be of great benefit to other crops. The remains of crops such as Maize, Melons, Rice, Sorghum can add nutrients to the soil.

2. The farmer doesn’t incur a total lost

In a situation whereby one crop fails, the farmer can make up with the other ones. Situations that can lead to such loss may include low productivity, outbreak of crop disease or infestation of pests and insects.

3. It saves the cost of farm labour

Instead of the farmer moving from one farmland to another to plant different types of crops, all these can be done in one farmland. It therefore saves for the farmer the cost of farm labour and other inconveniences.

4. It lowers the incidence of pests and other diseases

Some insects targets a particular species of crops. Therefore, the presence of different crops in the same farmland may keep the pests as well as other disease causing organisms away.

Disadvantages of Mixed Cropping

Having known its advantages, here are the disadvantages;

1. It is difficult to mechanize the farm operations

In this type of farming, farm mechanization operation maybe difficult due to the presence of different crops. The only time such operation maybe effectively carried out is during the clearing of the farmland.

2. High Competition for the available nutrients

The crops in such a farming practice may have a lot to compete for. This include water, soil nutrients and sunlight. Some plants may outgrow others and therefore grow more healthier than those that can’t compete favourably.

3. It can lead to great loss of soil nutrients

In most cases, the farmlands in which such farming system is being practiced is left with little to no nutrients. This may force the farmer to look for another farmland the next year.

4. Fertilizer requirements may not be well applied

Some crops have their own suitable type of fertilizer which may not be at times, suitable for other crops. In this case, the application of such a type of fertilizer to a particular type of crop in the farmland may have an adverse effect in others.

5. It is difficult to control pests and diseases

In mixed cropping, a particular crop specie maybe affected by pests or any other type of disease. In a situation whereby it is only one plant that is being planted, a spray or any other type of treatment given at once can totally eliminate such a pest or disease. Some of these pesticides or treatments maybe designed in a way that it will not have an adverse effect on this particular specie of crop. The presence of other crops may hinder such a general type of application or treatment.

Each cropping system has its own benefit and suitable for a particular region or group of people as earlier stated.

I believe I have answered your question on “What is mixed cropping?” Check on us for more interesting topics related to this.

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