During agricultural production, a farmer may face a variety of adversities and climatic vagaries. These adversities include unpredictable rainfall, stone hail, drought, flood, etc.
Moreover, issues like post-harvest losses, storage, and a lack of accessible effective marketing are exacerbating the situation. In addition, new challenges include human-wildlife and/or human-crops conflict, forest fires, organic matter shortage soil, monoculture, plant disease and infestation, migration, and young aversion to agriculture.
Crop diversification is the conventional technique of vast and diverse agricultural practices that require low input. This might be an alternative way that farmers can use to rescue farming. In addition, this can be a counter-strategy for farming bio-socio-psychological abnormalities. Crop diversification is a method of cultivating more diversified crops from limited land. It also increases the yield on the same amount of arable land. In our blog, let us look at what it is and why farmers need it in detail.
The Need for Diversification
For five decades, Indian agriculture has faced serious issues as input costs have risen to enhance production. Nonetheless, in many circumstances, production proportionate to input persists before plateauing and gradually declining.
Farmers have been utilising the widely advocated Green Revolution farming pattern. They plant rice, wheat and rice again for a longer time to increase yield. However, following the same cropping plan over time has taken certain nutrients from the soil. This results in a soil deficit in those nutrients and a drop in the soil microfauna population.
The microfaunal population manages nutrient mobilisation and absorption in the agricultural rhizosphere. Therefore, reducing the soil’s microfaunal population is a severe concern. Because without microfaunal activities, the soil’s ability to self-perpetuate and its ecology for crop production diminishes.
Maintaining Soil Nutrient Health
So the issue is, why would farmers want to alter their crop rotation? Longer rotation, lower revenue, more extensive administration, and restricted acceptance limit the system’s spread in contrast to monoculture for simplicity of management.
It is important to understand why crop diversity and crop rotation are required. If we follow the same cropping strategy for a few more years, soil nutrients will deplete. Farmers use fertiliser regularly to compensate for soil nutrient deficiencies, which causes changes in the chemical and biological characteristics of the soil.
Additionally, monoculture patterns are more likely to be attacked by the same insects and pests, which are then managed by pumping insecticides and pesticides. This causes the residue of these poisons to build in the soil, polluting the soil, crops, and environment.
Weed infestations are also increasing, requiring weeds or herbicides to eliminate them. As a result, continued chemical usage diminishes production, reduces resource efficiency, and degrades soil health.
As a result, crop diversification is urgently necessary to shift crops and to crop patterns. It is significant by including additional crops as intercrops and/or predecessor or successor crops, changing crop numbers (multi-cropping), changing cropping systems, and adopting a new, integrated cropping pattern with altering agronomical methods.
In this approach, tree integration in cropping systems, also known as agroforestry, plays an important role in crop diversification. It is a kind of primitive and tribal agriculture that is supported by indigenous technological expertise.
Agroforestry – An Introduction
Agroforestry is a spatial and temporal land-use system incorporating trees, crops, and/or animals while balancing biotic and abiotic components’ ecological and economic interactions. It uses the complementarity between trees and crops to make the most use of available resources.
Agroforestry is an essential land-use system for global diversification in biological, ecological, economic, and social concerns. You can get into agroforestry by researching about it and getting the right machinery. For example, the Autonxt Tractor come with modern technology that might help you further your agroforestry journey.
In diverse locations, the principal agroforestry approaches include multifunctional enhanced fallows, mixed-species production systems, home gardens, alley cropping, windbreaks, shifting cultivation, woodlots, protein banks, and Taungya.
Agroforestry helps a multifunctional production system by creating diversified habitats for macro- and microorganisms and preserving landforms for future generations.
Importance of an Integrated Farming System
The integrated farming system is an extension of agroforestry that advocates agri-production diversification with various secondary and tertiary agricultural approaches. The importance of microorganisms, nitrogen-fixing trees, leaf litter decomposition, forest hydrology, and nutrient fluxes in agroforestry for agricultural diversification with numerous underutilised and wild species is well understood.
The function of trees on a farm, directly and indirectly, involves agricultural robustness and barriers to negative externalities. Consequently, tree variety on a farm is a required answer for crop diversity promotion, not only at the farm level (homesteads) but also at the agricultural landscape level in distinct ecologies. Sonalika tractors can help you plant the sapling once you mount a seeder behind them, giving you some much-needed edge.
While it may seem unrealistic, nature forces us to learn to adopt a sustainable agricultural and land management system under this climate change scenario to assist more small and marginal farmers, who account for 90% of agro-system adoption. In the future, ideally, we should be able to scale up this agroforestry system for better food and land management on our planet while also preserving agricultural variety.