This article throws light upon the thirteen major factors affecting multiple cropping in India. The factors are: 1. Biological and Physical Aspects 2. Soils 3. Crop Varieties 4. Water Control 5. Fertilizer Needs and Multiple Cropping 6. Insect, Diseases and Weed Control 7. Post-Harvest Technology 8. Cropping Sequences and Yields 9. Timing 10. Social and Economic Aspects of Multiple Cropping and a Few Others.
Factor # 1. Biological and Physical Aspects:
There is a gap between potential and reality in its use. The biological and physical factors which may influence the gaps are: over-ridding influence of climate, nature of the needed biological and physical inputs, cropping sequences and yields, and the critical problem of timing.
The multiple cropping belts (10° South and 40° North of the equator) where climatic conditions allow cultivation year round but there should be availability of water either through rainfall or irrigation. In India, we have ‘Boro’, wetland and upland rice which can be grown in multiple cropping rotation.
Depending on the climatic conditions various grains, pulses, and vegetables may be grown in wet season. In water short regions millets (jowar and bajra) are important. With ground water irrigation crops could be grown in dry season. In India, kharif, rabi and zaid crops could be taken in rotation.
Factor # 2. Soils:
Multiple cropping requires deep, fertile soil with good texture and structure. Younger alluvial soil formed along rivers and streams or volcanic ash deposits are suitable for permanent agriculture and multiple cropping.
Factor # 3. Crop Varieties:
The crops have different ripening time thus the crop variety plays an important role as one of the key factors is time of ripening which means that the variety should be early maturing type.
It is also important that varieties grown in a multiple cropping rotation matures in a relatively fixed number of days after planting. Photo-period insensitive varieties are less influenced in this respect by day length than the photo-period sensitive varieties.
Further, desired characteristics for grain varieties are: yield rather than vegetative responsiveness to fertilizer. Short strong stems that limit lodging as well as natural insect and disease resistant type and there should be consumers acceptance for the variety also.
In non-irrigated regions, drought resistance varieties and flood resistance varieties have been developed as well as ‘usar’ land suiting varieties have been evolved. High Yielding Varieties of rice and wheat and other major crops which are responsive to improved agricultural practices are included in multiple cropping. These are also photo-period sensitive.
Factor # 4. Water Control:
The right quantity and lining are the most essential requirements in a good irrigation system. The rainfall coverage as to suit multiple cropping in terms of quantity and distribution is small world over. It is through irrigation the need of multiple cropping is supported.
This is also true about the single or extended cultivation into the next crop season. Irrigation installation is expensive and its operation too is expensive but the multiple cropping justifies it because it recovers the expenses which may be extra on their cultivation. Now, the thinking is that the irrigation facilities increases output per hectare as well makes food and fiber available throughout the year thus evading crops failure.
The sources of water—the major sources being canal and ground water through surface and tube-wells. Canal water is largely dependent on seasonal flow or its quantity becomes less or drying of canal takes place during winter season or specially hot summer days.
Well water is less subject to seasonal variation but its supply may be limited and cost becomes considerably higher. Thus, they become more expensive to operate economically and as such the individual small farmers cannot afford it because it becomes too expensive for their holdings.
Irrigation and drainage must go hand in hand because the later in short run provides proper aeration which is necessary for maize, vegetables etc. Over a large run period proper drainage is needed to avoid chronic water-logging of soil or built up of salinization.
Factor # 5. Fertilizer Needs and Multiple Cropping:
Fertilizer and adequate supply of organic matter or manure from the farm yard, green manuring sources is the life blood of multiple cropping specially where the HYV are preferred over the traditional varieties which utilize along with major nutrients and the micro-nutrients as well. To sustain the sequential cropping proper fertility level is the sine-qua-non of the multiple cropping.
Therefore, in rotation a leguminous crop (pulses) is very important. The nature of root system of the successive crop should be shallow followed by deep rooted one as followed in traditional system, for example, arhar or cotton was put in rotation with cereals followed by restoration leguminous crop for tapping of nutrients from the different layers of soil without putting excessive burden on a single layer.
Wheat and rice play a complementary effect in the utilization of different forms of soil phosphorous. Scientists should study the requirements of crops in different rotations in multiple cropping system.
Factor # 6. Insect, Diseases and Weed Control:
The crowding of field with plant life are likely to lead to diseases and pests problems and specially the new varieties are more susceptible to these problems. Even unknown diseases and pest take epidemic proportions.
So, there are four possible solutions to these are:
1. Stepping up of chemical control measures,
2. Resistance varieties,
3. Biological control, and
Now a days chemical control causes environmental pollution problems and is expensive too, biological control are time consuming, weed control takes too much time. The natural control of weed lies in automatic vanishing of weeds under wet conditions and some in dry conditions are lost.
Factor # 7. Post-Harvest Technology:
Multiple cropping poses several problems and increases load on the existing facilities and would demand for added facilities. Examples are found in early maturing paddy which needs drying facility in the form of equipment drier.
Quick turnover of crops may put a load on transportation facilities as well as storage need to be increased stored grain pest and diseases may come up. Time stress is also inevitable like quick and subsequent seed bed preparation for the next crop. Demand on research and administration crops up.
Factor # 8. Cropping Sequences and Yields:
Paddy is a popular crop the world over. Flooding of paddy improves the utilization of applied nitrogen and makes phosphorus more readily available. The rice plants are tolerant to poor soils under flooding. Under the traditional system a fallow season was meant for regeneration of soil fertility and soil structure.
In case of paddy there is a difference between wetland and upland cultivation that is with shortening of fallow period the following crop yield is lowered because the season becomes not favourable.
With the above limitations there is bright side of multiple cropping. March to May a late season is favourable as there is rich sunlight, mechanized operation can be performed, weed control is easy, harvesting is convenient and could be mechanized and above all short duration crop will grow well for example Moong Type 1 as a zaid crop can be conveniently grown but the water supply should be assured.
In case there is shortage of water paddy could be dropped from the rotation instead growing of HYV grain crop, pulses and vegetables would be feasible.
Some of the following crops suffer from low yield so a second crop of vegetable can be raised dropping paddy. Some practices like installation of irrigation, fertilizer application and tillage will benefit the first crop. Even though the second crap gives lower yield but the total production will give larger income.
Factor # 9. Timing:
Multiple cropping gives a tight schedule to farmers. Less time is left in between two subsequent crops resulting in larger number of operations to be completed within a short time from seed bed preparation and planting to harvesting. Irrigation timing is the most difficult in case of rice double cropping, where the paddy fields need leveling, flooding, puddling before transplanting.
These difficulties are to a larger extent overcome by resorting to mechanization which costs half the time in preparation, direct seeding saves time in nursery.
Length of growing season has a major impact on the farming problems: rice has a highest 110 days, vegetables like cabbage 95 days, and musk melon 45 days. Thus, the rotation can be arranged within climatic restrains to include crops which provide some flexibility in timing.
The other time saving devices are : keep minimum tillage time, raised beds to dry for sowing, or planting, rationing in case of sugarcane, growing crops which may be harvested before full maturity and kept to ripen in store, example is found in tomatoes, chilies etc. Another device is inter-cropping. It is to be noted that a delay of one week causes delay in harvesting to two weeks.
Factor # 10. Social and Economic Aspects of Multiple Cropping:
The most thorny question rises both at private and public levels. The use of scarce public resources need to be seen within the option between following the traditional system of farming or multiple cropping. It follows the effective demand and farm price levels as a result of multiple cropping as the presence of a new second or third crop can disturb price support and purchase programmes.
In case the small farmers are by-passed in technological know-how and adoption of multiple cropping, which is not true in ease, of India, thus would widen the social and economic gap. Another question is that of foreign exchange which is scarce, the demand for equipment’s and other inputs (fertilizers, pesticides) as required for multiple cropping may put a pressure on it.
Multiple cropping requires a great deal of scientific, technological and administrative know-how. The key problems are technical know-how which may lack, inappropriate stock of seeds, fertilizers, plant protection chemicals and storage facilities in case of excessive output (example—potato). Labour shortage in season is another important factor to be seen under Indian conditions.
Factor # 11. Costs and Returns:
This is the economics of multiple cropping. Some lands are favorably located getting sufficient irrigation with adequate growing season, underemployment of labour will result in less cost.
But due to some reasons, particularly labour scarcity, the cost of labour may be high and the need for mechanization may emerge which may cut down per unit of cost by extensive capitalization which is in general beyond the reach of small farmers.
Irrigation is more costly than rain water. Multiple cropping is labour intensive and the increased cost of labour depends on the degree in which hired and family labour are utilized. Multiple cropping in intensive form increases capital cost. Labour costs are the concern of large farmers but capital cost are for the small farmers.
Returns in multiple cropping is highly variable due to frequency of cropping and types of crops included in a given frequency, for example, cash crops like cotton and potato. The measures of profit vary in accordance to the type of farming that is, return on per man or per unit of capital etc.
Factor # 12. Analysis of Cropping Relationship:
The basic element in multiple cropping is an ordered sequence of crops. Individual crops in a sequence may have a number of possible cultural interrelationship. Some of these interrelationships can be expressed in economic terms and analysed.
Two crops involved in double cropping can relate to each other in three basic ways:
(iii) Supplementary or Independent.
In the real form competitive relationship are more apt to be the case. Increased output of one crop might initially bring about some increase in output of the other but beyond a certain point they would lapse into competitiveness. Examples are found in rainfed crops followed by another as dry-land crop.
The first crop may not leave sufficient moisture or fertility to support the second one and as such a competitive relationship between subsequent crops occur in terms of moisture or fertility availability. The straight line relationship in competitive crops represent constant rates of substitution, the curvilinear one will express either increasing or decreasing rates of substitution.
In the former the curve is convex to the origin but in case of later it is convex to the origin. It is a hard nut to crack in the process of determining optimum multiple cropping rotations.
New technological development have broadened the range of possible crops yet the increased alternatives make a choice more difficult. Linear Programming as a tool of farm management will be of considerable assistance.
Though the task is difficult enough partly in terms of production economics, yet other variables should probably be taken into consideration. These are social in nature and include employment, nutrition and consumers price.
Factor # 13. Other Factors:
Factors that may Influence Favorably or Unfavourably the Adoption of Multiple Cropping:
These may be:
(i) Economic reasons.
(ii) Prospects which demand policy issues.
(iii) Certain policy issues having subjectivity of the farmers.
(iv) Social considerations.
(v) Ecological considerations.
There may not be increased returns to producers. Sometimes farmers prefer leisure to work for marginal gain which may be climatic factors (in wet and hot climate people feel more lethargic and hence do not put their mind to work). There are certain sickness like malaria which discourages physical labour.
This disease occurring at a time when there is season for cultural operations for the next crop for example, in the Tarai regions in the foothills of Himalaya, inadequate diet is another inhibiting factor. There are subjective factors viz., after the rice cultivation the cultivation of coarse foodstuff is not liked by the producers so they do not cultivate.
In the zaid season the villagers let loose their livestock for grazing thus it becomes difficult to put land under zaid crops as such the third crop is not sown.
The stall feeding of livestock becomes expensive so they are let loose, Another reason is the irrigation charges or land rent, which, if it is according to the crops sown the farmers are discouraged, in case of a single charge they are encouraged to use the land for another crop or more.
Labour problem is another factor discouraging multiple cropping for the purpose of watch and ward such shortage of labour is found on the large farms but the shortage of bullock labour on small farms is generally found to discourage multiple crop practices. In case the second crop commands lesser price so the farmers prefer to grow second crop of rice followed by main rice crop. Rat menace is also a problem of its own kind.
If multiple cropping is to be considered as a prospect there may be problems: like high degree of technical requirement, and management, assured water supply, increased production of inputs like fertilizer and pesticide, a more sophisticated marketing system which may be lacking in developing countries.
Another key factor is the profitability with prices which will encourage production. There is another question of potential or real additional food but the rich farmers may be interested in the production of fruits and dairy products.
In case of excessive supply of food grains or other semi-perishable products government procure the products at prices thus evading the lowering of prices of the product.
Multiple cropping develops fast in economically developed countries where infrastructure facilities are adequate and proper such as input supplies, credit facilities, irrigation, marketing and price policy. There are commercial and non-commercial outlet for crops.
There should be desire for the commercialization of farming and also think in terms of export under the liberalization policy for the quality products and their grading and standardization as well as the processing and price guaranteeing that programme will encourage the production of desired products. Besides, there should be programmes like drying, storing, transportation and distribution to encourage agri-business.
If a country aims at increasing quantity and quality of food supply will the multiple cropping be helpful is a vital question. Multiple cropping is a good answer in favourable regions where infrastructural facilities abound or it can be well practiced or is already existing in established farms adopting the intensive cultivation.
For the labour abundant small farms the labour force will be gainfully employed other things remaining the same. Through the use of tool like linear programming technical coefficient and opportunity will be available which would help in preparing programmes of multiple cropping.
Another consideration for multiple cropping adoption is the social implications: The whole calendar of operation has to be restructured which may not be socially agreeable. Social disparity arises where more facilities are bestowed (irrigation, credit, input) encouraging farmers to adopt multiple cropping gaining economic benefits while less fortunate will be deprived of its benefits or gains.
In India, this possibility has been taken care of with the socialization of commercial banks in seventies which has made the facilities accessible to less advantaged farmers through credit availability needed to purchase the inputs. This will help small farmers the opportunity to significantly increase the quantity and variety of food supplies.
On the front of ecological considerations—the technological innovations have ecological implications. The additional crops will require hosts of inputs and will provide food as a host for insect-pests, diseases. Weeds will have a longer growing period, wherever crop is not raised and tilled crop is preferred wind erosion will take place.
Chemical use in enhancing fertility, control of insect-pests, diseases and weeds will be in the long run are ecological cost. Fish farming in river, ponds, lakes and rice fields will be affected by the chemicals used in the farming operations.
Canal water used in irrigation, if not judiciously employed, may cause salinity and imperfect drainage will add fuel to fire. Water stagnation and wetland cultivation may cause malarial diseases. Problems of irrigation and public health go hand in hand.