How to do Crop Rotation in Organic Farming
Organic farming has gained immense popularity in the present time. The government of India is taking measures to promote organic farming. Why? We need to first understand what organic farming is. In order to gain more clarity on why it is gaining so much popularity and why the government is promoting it. Organic farming basically means the system of agriculture that relies on the use of organic fertilizers and employs techniques such as crop rotation, intercropping, mulching etc. and completely forbids the use of pesticides and artificial fertilizers.
It is a sustainable approach to agriculture which focuses on improving soil quality and structure and minimizing pollution resulting from conventional methods of agriculture. With the problem of climate change and its detrimental effects, the agriculturalists and the governments are coming to the solution of sustainable agriculture unlike conventional methods of agriculture which have many negative impacts like soil erosion, groundwater pollution, and biodiversity loss.
Though it shares many techniques with that of conventional agriculture, what makes it unique is the use of natural fertilizers and the complete renunciation of synthetic fertilizers.
The Indian Government has introduced various policies to promote organic farming. The Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) promotes cluster based organic farming with PGS certification. This aims to develop sustainable models of organic farming through a mix of traditional wisdom and modern science to ensure long term soil fertility build up, resource conservation and help in climate change adaptation and mitigation. (Source: PGS India)
Other such policies are :
Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region (MOVCDNER), Capital Investment Subsidy Scheme (CISS), National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm (NMOOP), National Food Security Mission (NFSM).
These policies have helped immensely to promote organic farming. The state governments also have taken good measures to bring organic farming to the forefront.
Below we have some data on the performance of different states in organic farming :
The top three states – Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra – account for half the area under organic farming. The top ten states account for almost 80 percent of the total area under organic cultivation.
Union territories such as Chandigarh, Lakshadweep also have 10 per cent or more area dedicated towards organic farming.
Uttarakhand and Sikkim have already been recognized as the organic states.
What is Crop Rotation?
Rotation is the practice of using the natural biological and physical properties of crops to benefit the growth, health and competitive advantage of other crops. In this process, the soil and its life structure are also benefited. The desired result is a farm which is more productive and self-reliant in resources to a greater extent.
Crop Rotation in simple words means, the cultivation of different crops on the same farmland in a successive manner that helps to improve the soil fertility, protects the crops from pests and maintains the nutrients in the soil.
Why is Crop Rotation an important aspect of Organic Farming?
Crop rotation is an essential technique which prevents insects and pests, weed build up and maintains soil health and structure making it an important aspect of organic farming. The objectives of organic farming include maintaining soil health, reducing pollution and maintaining ecological balance which can be accomplished with the implementation of crop rotation.
How to Implement Crop Rotation in Organic Farming?
There are various steps that have to be implemented during crop rotation in organic farming. Utmost planning is required for the proper implementation of crop rotation, otherwise it could be hazardous. The task that have to executed beforehand in order to start a crop rotation are as follows:
- Identifying the Goal
Crop rotations are meant to meet overall farm goals. The farmers who are expert in this process or who have already practiced it, manage their field rotations in the context of their whole farm systems. To increase the profit margins of the farmers, the first step is perhaps the most important one. Many parameters including area of farm land available, equipment, cash flow and marketing strategies must be considered.
Identifying the possibilities and limits of the overall plan is very important in the overall crop rotation procedure. There are numerous factors that has to accounted for while planning such as the available land for cultivation, the present demand of the market, the kind of technology with the far
- Gathering Data
Relevant data about each and everything related to farming acts as a huge advantage. Having a detailed observation of the crops is extremely crucial for rotation. One of the most relevant ways in which the data is collected is through the regular walking in the fields. Production and marketing information usually needs the latest updated information.
Consulting with other networks and farmers, studying existing research data, relying on the field records about what was planted in previous seasons, successes and failures, taking help from the meteorological data of rainfall and weather patterns are extremely helpful. Data helps in the categorization of crops and fields which in turn helps in the optimization and allocation of particular crops.
- Analysing Data
All the information gathered in the previous steps are carefully analysed. The data on labour and seed availability, equipment, farm and rotation goals are reviewed carefully. The assessment of soil conditions determine how pest and disease pressures should be addressed. Even weather projects are carefully analysed and various possible pairings of crop to field are outlined.
Without a solid plan, no great idea could be made into a reality. Same is the case with crop rotation, without a proper plan on how to use the data in hand, it would be almost impossible to gain maximum output out of this practice. On the basis of the data generated and analysed, the crop rotation plan has to be executed. The production plan should highlight two important things about what needs to be cultivated and how it should be cultivated. The final decisions about the mixing of crops and allocating it to the fields are pivotal. Information such as quantity of crops, required equipment, desired harvest dates are integrated in the plan. These would sum up to make a good plan for the crop rotation.
We have tons of data on the soil conditions, crop quality, and the available resources and equipment, according to which we have devised a smart plan to carry out crop rotation but without proper execution of the plan none of that would make us any profits. The execution of important and difficult tasks such as maintaining crops, monitoring of soil and crop conditions, reviewing the rotation practice and production plans and also implementing the production plan like attaining the required equipment, adequate irrigation facilities, preparing the soil as the weather permits, planting crops in an appropriate manner are very important steps which should not be ignored.
- Evaluation of the Performance
The farmers should keep a regular eye on the performance of their fields, each crop and farms as a whole. They should record how their plans have worked as this would not just serve as a record of the current season but also would act as a future reference if a similar type of problem would occur during the crop rotation in future. Evaluation is necessary in order to minimize the defects in the procedure and to gradually improve on this practice if one wants to gain the maximum output from this method.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Crop Rotation
Crop Rotation brings many benefits which are as follows:
- It improves soil structure
- It increases the fertility and nutrient content of the soil
- It helps in the control of weeds, pests and diseases
- It produces a variety of crops
- It can be used as ploughing of the soil
- It reduces soil erosion
- It reduces pollution
- It increases crop yields
- It minimizes the cost of production
- It helps in increasing the nutrient intake of plants from the soil
Besides the benefits, it has some limitations too which are as follows:
- It involves risks
- It can cause more harm to the plants if it is not implemented properly
- It involves diversification of the crops as a necessary step
- It requires more knowledge and skills
- Every crop has different growing conditions
Implementation of the above mentioned steps would ensure the full utilization of the resources and would help in getting the full output from the crop rotation practice in agriculture. This would enhance the soil fertility, reducing soil erosion from the conventional methods of agriculture to a large extent. It would also help in reducing the pollution from regular farm practices significantly and would also control the pest problem without the use of any pesticides. In the coming years, we will see a huge rise in organic farming. With more and more people being concerned about the environment and the growing demands of healthy foods, we could expect a bright future for organic farming.