FARMING SYSTEM, CROPPING AND CROP ROTATION SYSTEM—BY INSTRUCTOR MRS. EREKATA, O.J.
FARMING SYSTEM: Farming system simply means the different types of agricultural practices used by farmers around the world for the production of plants and animals. The common types of farming system used by West African Farmers include the following=
A] SHIFTING CULTIVATION; This is a system of farming where a farmer cultivate a piece of land for some years and then abandon the land without the intention of coming back to the land. It has the following advantages and disadvantages:
It is simple, cheap and effective in restoring soil fertility.
It helps to check the build up of insect pests and diseases.
The plant cover helps to check erosion.
It can only be practiced where land is abundant and where population is low.
It is very tedious moving from one area to another.
Much time, energy and money are required in clearing new farmland.
Many useful organism living in the soil are usually destroyed during burning.
The system encourages soil erosion.
B] PASTORAL FARMING: This is a system of farming in which farmer keeps only livestock. Animals kept may include cattle, sheep and goats. Pastoral farming may be settled[Ranching] or unsettled [Nomadic herding]
C] NOMADIC HERDING: It is a system of pastoral farming which involves the movement of the herdsman with his animals from place to place in search green pasture and water during the dry season. This system is commonly practiced by the Fulanis of Nigeria. It has the following advantages and disadvantages:
The only advantage of the system is that the movement of the herds prevents starvation and death in areas where food and water are relatively scarce.
There is irregular supply of feeds and water to the animals.
Animals are exposed to insect pests and diseases.
The dung and droppings of the animals which could have formed an excellent source of manure are wasted.
They often destroy cultivated crops along their route and they cause problem for the herdsmen.
The herdsmen and their animals are exposed to the risk of being killed by dangerous wild animals.
D] RANCHING: This is the settled form of livestock production. In this system, the pasture is managed properly to provide feed for the animals all the year round. Hence, the farmer does not need to move his animals from place to place in search of food and water. It has these advantages:
Pasture and water are available all the year round.
Low incidence of pests and diseases resulting from good management of farm animals.
Low death rate and production of high quality animals due to proper breeding practices.
It is very expensive to manage a ranch.
Overstocking will reduce the pasture available to each animal and consequently bring about the death of the weaker animals.
Outbreak of disease may wipe out the whole stock.
E] MIXED FARMING: This is a system of farming where a farmer raise both crops and animals on the same piece of land. The farmer may keep different animals for different purposes. E.g. cow for milk production, poultry for eggs, goats and sheep for meat etc. He also plants different types of crops. It has the following advantages and disadvantages.
Animal dung and droppings are used as organic manure to improve soil fertility.
Remains of crops such as maize, rice can be used as food[feed] for the animals which help to reduce the cost of feeding the animals.
It provides an alternative source of income for farmers for example, if there is crop failure, the farmer falls back on his animals as an alternative source of income.
It encourages efficient use of farm labour and hence increase yield.
The capital needed to set up this type of farming system is huge.
The animals can destroy or feed on the crops if they are not properly controlled.
The attention of the farmer may be divided on how to care for both the crops and animals at the same time.
The system encourages soil erosion due to overgrazing.
CROPPING SYSTEM: Cropping system can be referred to as the different patterns of growing crop in the farm. A farmer may be growing only one type of crop or many types on the same piece of land at the same in each growing season.
TYPES OF CROPPING SYSTEM:
A] MONO CROPPING [SOLE CROPPING]: It is a system of cropping where one type of crop is grown on a farm on the same piece of land at the same time. It is usually practiced on a large scale of land where crops such as oil palm, cocoa, kolanut, rubber, rice, millet etc. are grown. It has the following advantages and dis advantages:
It makes room for efficient use of land.
It encourages specialization.
Weeds, diseases or pests can easily be recognized and controlled.
Crop production can be mechanized.
The system is very risky. The farmer may lose all his crops if there is an outbreak of pests, diseases, flood or drought.
There may be a build up of pests and diseases on the farm.
Farmers may be discouraged from producing more if there is low pricing in the market.
B] MIXED CROPPING: This system involves the growing of two or more crops on the same piece of land at the same time. It can be grouped into inter-cropping and inter-planting. Inter-cropping is a system where a crop is grown in between another crop and the crop planted first is harvested last while the crop planted last is harvested first. e.g. yam can be intercropped with[i.c.w] melon. Inter-planting involves planting two crops at different times and the crop planted first is harvested first before the second crop. For example, maize is said to be inter-planted [i.p.w] with yam or cassava. It has these advantages and disadvantages.
Mixed cropping provides insurance against crop failure in the sense that when one crop fails, the farmer falls back on the other crops.
Spread of pests and diseases is minimal.
The fertility of the soil can be improved by including legumes in the system.
It discourages farm mechanization.
There is competition between crops for nutrients, air, water, space and sunlight which may seriously reduce the yield of the less competitive crops.
It is difficult to use chemicals to control weeds under this system because such herbicides may be harmful to some of the crops.
C] CONTINUOS CROPPING: This system involves the growing of the same type of crops on the same piece of land very year. This system is normally practiced where there is scarcity of land and dense population. It has the following advantages and disadvantages.
It saves time, energy and money as new farm land is not cleared every year.
It helps to economize the use of farmland.
It is easy to mechanized the farm and to apply fertilizer.
It exposes the land to erosion.
It also leads to rapid loss of soil nutrient.
It encourages the build-up of pests and diseases
D] MULTIPLE CROPPING: This system involves the growing of different crops on the same piece of land more than once in a year and harvesting them at different time. The principle of this method is that the first crop is harvested before planting the other during the same season. E.g. a crop like maize is grown two times during the same season on the same piece of land. The first crop is grown in late March or early April and harvested in July/August and harvested in November. It has the following advantages and disadvantages.
It enables the farmer to make maximum use of his land.
It guards against crops failure.
Growing different crops increases the total income of the farmer.
It requires adequate and regular supply of water.
The soil may be over used.
D] CROP ROTATION: This is the system of growing different crops on the same piece of land year after year following a sequential or definite order.
A CROP ROTATION SYSTEM
PLOT 1 PLOT 2 PLOT 3 PLOT 4
Year 1 Yam Groundnut Maize Okra
Year 2 Groundnut Maize Okra Yam
Year 3 Maize Okra Yam Groundnut
Year 4 Okra Yam Groundnut Maize
PRINCIPLE OF CROP ROTATION: The principle of crop rotation are:
Crops of the same family should not follow each other since they will be susceptible to the same diseases and pests. E.g. maize, wheat, rice, millet etc.
Deep rooted crops should be followed by shallow rooted crops.
Crops planted should be ones that are suitable to the climate of the area.
A period of fallow that is, rest period should be included in the rotation as this will help to replenish the soil fertility.
It has the following advantages and disadvantages.
ADVANTAGES OF CROP ROTATION:
It makes or gives room for efficient use of land yearly.
The planting of cover crops enrich the soil by adding nitrogen.
It reduces the exposure of the soil to erosion.
It reduces the incidence of pests and diseases.
The purchase of fertilizer may make the system to be expensive.
It can bring about low yield.