Different agricultural seasons in India
In India, different crops are sown in different seasons. There are two major agricultural seasons in India:
i) Kharif ii) Rabi
Besides Kharif and Rabi crops, there are certain crops which are raised throughout the year. They are known as Zayad or 'Zaid'.
Kharif season and its crops
They are sown in the months of June and July and harvested in autumn months, i.e., in September and October. Important Kharif crops are rice, jowar, bajra, maize, cotton, sugarcane and jute.
Rabi season and its crops
The Rabi season begins with the onset of winter in October-November and ends in March-April. Important Rabi crops are wheat, barley, peas, linseed, gram and mustard.
Zaid Kharif and Zaid Rabi crops
Zaid Kharif Crops: These are sown in August and September and are harvested in December and January. Most of the oilseeds like mustard are grown in this season.
Zaid Rabi Crops: These crops are sown at the beginning of the hot season in February and March and are harvested in the month of April and May. Summer vegetables, jowar, watermelon, cucumbers, etc. are important among these crops.
Different food crops grown in India
Indian agriculture is largely dominated by food crops which occupy 65 percent of the total cropped area of the country. They are grown throughout the country either as a sole crop or in combination with other crops. The important food crops grown in India are rice, wheat, barley, maize, millets (jowar, bajra, ragi) and pulses (including gram and tur).
Rice as a main food crop in India
It is the staple food crop of a majority of the people in India. Our country is the second largest producer of rice in the world after China. It feeds more than half of the population. It occupies above 43 million hectares of land. It is mainly a tropical crop and requires a mean temperature of 24 and annual rainfall of 150 cm.
Classification of farming in India
Types of farming in India:
i) Subsistence farming
ii) Commercial farming
iii) Shifting agriculture
iv) Intensive farming
v) Extensive farming
vi) Plantation farming
vii) Mixed farming
It is a slash and burn agriculture. Farmers clear a patch of land and produce cereals and other food crops to sustain their family. When the soil fertility decreases, the farmers shift and clear a fresh patch of land for cultivation.
Majority of farmers in India practice subsistence farming. It is characterised by small and scattered land holdings and use of primitive tools, like hoe and digging sticks by family members. As the farmers are poor, they do not use fertilisers and high yielding variety of seeds in their fields.
Intensive and extensive farming
Intensive farming: This is a system of farming under which small farms are cultivated intensively using large inputs of manual labour, manures and fertilisers. Usually, more than one crop is cultivated on the same field. The main crops grown are rice and wheat.
Extensive farming: This type of farming is practised on farms of large size with the help of machines and the input of labour per unit area is low. The emphasis is laid on increased production. The main crops grown are rice, wheat, sugarcane, etc.
Plantation and mixed farming
Plantations are large tracts of land or estates used for cultivation of a single agricultural crop like tea, coffee, rubber or spices. The plantation crops usually cater to the export market and earn foreign exchange.
Mixed farming: Cultivation of crops and raising of animals together is called mixed farming. Two or more crops are grown together. It ensures steady income to the farmers.
Commercial and dry farming
Commercial farming: This system of agriculture involves cultivation of crops for sale in the market. These crops are called cash crops. They include sugarcane, tobacco, oilseeds. It is usually practised in areas where plenty of land is available and market economy is well developed.
A type of farming practised in arid areas without irrigation by planting drought-resistant crops or by employing moisture-enhancing techniques such as planting seeds deep in the ground or using and maintaining a fine surface tilth or mulch that delays evaporation. Also called dryland farming.
As per agriculture scientists, 'organic farming' is a system which largely excludes the use of synthetic inputs such as fertilisers, pesticides etc in farming activities. They follow crop rotations, crop residues, manures, non-farm organic waste and biological system of nutrient mobilization and plant protection for better yield of crops.
Characteristics of organic farming
The characteristics of organic farming include:
(1) Protecting the fertility of soils, encouraging soil biological activity.
(2) Providing crop nutrients through the soil micro-organisms.
(3) The management of livestock on the field.
Importance of organic farming
The Green Revolution based on the use of package technology and the White Revolution (Operation Flood) were some of the strategies initiated to improve the lot of Indian agriculture. Due to constant use of the HYV seeds and chemical fertilisers for better yields, the soil has almost its fertility. A need is felt to maintain a natural balance for the existence of life and property. Hence, the popular choice for that organic farming has emerged as a potential option for the farmers.
Slash and burn way of cultivating land
Slash and Burn is a way of cultivating land where farmers clear a piece of land by slashing or cutting down trees and bushes. These are then burnt, which releases the nutrients into the soil. Now crops are grown in this cleared field for a few years. After using the patch of land, the soil looses its nutrients. So it is abandoned. Then they clear another plot of land to plant. In the mean time young trees grow in the old field. In this way soil fertility is restored. People can then return to it and start cultivating it again.