Cropping Patterns in India

04th June 2021

Cropping Pattern in India

Back to Basics: Cropping Pattern mean the proportion of area under different crops at a point of time, changes in this distribution overtime and factors determining these changes.

Cropping pattern in India is determined mainly by rainfall, climate, temperature and soil type.

Technology also plays a pivotal role in determining crop pattern. Example, the adoption of High Yield Varieties Seeds along with fertilisers in the mid 1960’s in the regions of Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh increased wheat production significantly.

The multiplicity of cropping systems has been one of the main features of Indian agriculture. This may be attributed to following two major factors:

  1. Rainfed agriculture still accounts for over 92.8 million hectares or 65 percent of the cropped area. A large diversity of cropping systems exists under rainfed and dryland areas with an overriding practice of intercropping, due to greater risks involved in cultivating larger area under a particular crop.
  2. Due to prevailing socio-economic situations (such as; dependency of large population on agriculture, small land-holding size, very high population pressure on land resource etc.), improving household food security has been an issue of supreme importance to many million farmers of India, who constitute 56.15 million marginal (<1.0 hectare), 17.92 million small (1.0-2.0 hectare) and 13.25 million semi-medium (2.0-4.0 hectare) farm holdings, making together 90 percent of 97.15 million operational holdings.
  3. An important consequence of this has been that crop production in India remained to be considered, by and large, a subsistence rather than commercial activity.

What are the types of cropping System:

Different types of cropping systems are adopted on farms depending on the resources and technology available. The different & basic types of cropping System is explained below:

Mono-cropping: If only one crop is grown in the land season after season, it is referred to as Monocropping. Example: Wheat will be planted year after year in the same field. 

Crop Rotation: In this method, the type of crops grown in the field is changed each season or each year. farmers also change from crops to fallow. Example: Maize will be planted in the first year and beans in the second year. This Crop rotation system is a key principle of agriculture conservation as it improves the soil structure and fertility. It also helps to control weeds, pests, and diseases.

Sequential Cropping: This system involves growing two crops in the same field, one after the other in the same year. Example: Planting maize during long rains, then beans during the short rains. 

Inter-cropping: Growing two or more crops in the same field at the same time is called Intercropping. Examples: Planting alternating rows of maize and beans, or growing a cover crop in between the rows. 

Mixed Intercropping: In this method, seeds of two crops are distributed or dibbling the seeds without any row arrangement. This method is called mixed intercropping. This method is easy to sow but makes weeding, fertilization, and harvesting difficult. 

Multiple-Cropping: In this cropping system, farmers grow two or more crops on farmland in one year with intensive input management practices. It includes inter-cropping, mixed-cropping, and sequence cropping.

Row Intercropping: In this method, both the main crop and the intercrop in rows are planted. The row intercropping makes weeding and harvesting easier than with mixed intercropping.

Stir Cropping: This type of cropping involves planting broad strips of several crops in the field. Each strip will be 3–9 m wide. On slopes, the strips are laid out along the contour to prevent erosion. The farmer can rotate crops by planting each strip with a different crop in the next year. Example: Alternating strips of maize, soybean, and finger millet are planted. 

Relay Cropping: In this method, one crop is planted and another crop, usually a cover crop, is planted in the same field before harvesting the first. It avoids competition between the main crop and the intercrop. Relay cropping uses the field for a long time since the cover crop usually continues to grow after the main crop is harvested.

In Indian agriculture, three types of Cropping System is used. They are:

  • Mono-Cropping

  • Inter-cropping

  • Multiple-Cropping

Factors Determining Cropping Pattern in India

Cropping Pattern in India

30 most important cropping patterns in India

Specific Issues Related to the Cropping Pattern

Crop Pattern Region/State Issues Related to Crop Pattern
Rice-Wheat UP, Punjab, Haryana, Bihar, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh. Over the years there is stagnation in the production and productivity loses.


The main reasons for stagnation are:

Over Mining of Nutrients from the soil.

Declining Ground Water Table.

Increase Pest Attacks and Diseases.

Shortages of Labour.

Inappropriate use of Fertilizers.

Rice-Rice Irrigated and Humid coastal system of Orrisa, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala. The major issues in sustaining the productivity of rice-rice system are:


Deterioration in soil physical conditions.

Micronutrient deficiency.

Poor efficiency of nitrogen use. Imbalance in use of nutrients. Non-availability of appropriate trans planter to mitigate labour shortage during the critical period of transplanting.

Rice- Groundnut Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Orrisa and Maharashtra. The major issues in the pattern are:


Excessive Rainfall and Water Logging.

Non-availability of quality seeds.

Limited expansion of Rabi Groundnut in Rice grown areas.

Rice-Pulses Chhattisgarh, Orrisa and Bihar. Factors limiting Productivity are:


Droughts and Erratic Rainfall distribution.

Lack of Irrigation.

Low coverage under HYV Seeds.

Weed Attacks.

Little attention to pest attacks and diseases.

Marginalisation of land and Removal of Tribal from their own land.

Maize-Wheat UP, Rajasthan, MP and Bihar The Reason for Poor Yields are:


Sowing Timing.

Poor Weed Management.

Poor Plant Varieties.

Poor use of organic and inorganic fertilizers.

Large area under Rain Fed Agriculture.

Sugarcane-Wheat UP, Punjab and Haryana accounts for 68% of the area under sugarcane.


The other states which cover the crops are; Karnataka and MP.

Problems in Sugarcane-Wheat system are:


Late Planting.

Imbalance and inadequate use of nutrients.

Poor nitrogen use efficiency in sugarcane.

Build-up of Trianthema partu lacastrum and Cyprus rotundus in sugarcane.

The stubble of sugarcane pose tillage problem for succeeding crops and need to be managed properly.

Cotton-Wheat Punjab, Haryana, West UP, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu. Problems in Cotton-Wheat system are:


Delay Planting.

Stubbles of cotton create the problem of tillage operations and poor tilth for wheat.

Cotton Pest like Boll Worm and White Fly.

Poor nitrogen use efficiency in cotton.

Soya bean-Wheat Maharashtra, MP and Rajasthan Constraints limiting the soybean production and productivity are:


A relatively recent introduction of soybean as a crop.

Limited genetic diversity.

Short growing period available in Indian latitudes.

Hindered agronomy/availability of inputs at the farm level.

Rainfed nature of crop and water scarcity at critical stage of plant growth.

Insect pests and diseases, Quality improvement problems.

Inadequate mechanization and partial adoption of technology by farmers have been identified.

Legume Based Cropping Systems (Pulses-Oilseeds) MP, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. The major issues in Legume based system are:


Lack of technological advancement.

Loses due to erratic weather and waterlogging.

Diseases and Pests.

Low harvest index, flower drop, indeterminate growth habit and very poor response to fertilizers and water in most of the grain legumes.

Nutrient needs of the system have to be worked out considering N-fixation capacity of legume crops.

Horticulture Crops in India

India has made a good place for itself on the Horticulture Map of the World with a total annual production of horticultural crops touching over 1490 million tones during 1999-00.

The horticultural crops cover about 9 percent of the total area contributing about 24.5 percent of the gross agricultural output in the country. However, the productivity of fruits and vegetables grown in the country is low as compared to developed countries.

Vegetable Crops

Vegetable crops in India are grown from the sea level to the snowline. The entire country can broadly be divided into six vegetable growing zones:

Low productivity is the main feature of vegetable cultivation in India as farm yields of most of the vegetables in India are much lower than the average yield of the world and developed countries.

The productivity gap is more conspicuous in tomato, cabbage, onion, chilli and peas. The preponderance of hybrid varieties and protected cultivation are mainly responsible for high productivity in the developed countries.

Constraints in vegetable production:

1. Lack of planning in Production

2. Non-availability of seeds of improved varieties.

3. High cost of basic production elements

4. Inadequate plant protection measures and non-availability of resistant varieties.

5. Weak marketing facilities

6. Transportation limits

7. Post-harvest losses

8. Abiotic stresses.

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