Horticulture, Floriculture, Commercial crops, Bamboo Production – MIDH, NFSM-CC, etc.

US research highlights Indian farming practices


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Types of farming mentioned in news

Mains level: NA

A paper has recently published in the US has found that Integrated farming with intercropping increases food production while reducing environmental footprint.

What is the finding?

This work found that:

  1. Relay planting enhances yield
  2. Within-field rotation or strip rotation allowing strips for planting other plants (such as grass, fruits) besides the major crop was more fruitful
  3. Soil munching that is, available means such as crop straw, in addition to the major crop such as wheat or rice, and
  4. No-till or reduced tillage, which increases the annual crop yield up by 15.6% to 49.9%, and decreasing the environmental footprint by 17.3%, compared with traditional monoculture cropping

Various terms mentioned

[A] Relay planting

  • Relay planting means the planting of different crops in the same plot, one right after another, in the same season.
  • Examples of such relay cropping would be planting rice (or wheat), cauliflower, onion, and summer gourd (or potato onion, lady’s fingers and maize), in the same season.
  • Benefits: It is less risk since you do not have to depend on one crop alone. It also means better distribution of labour, insects spread less, and any legumes actually add nitrogen to the soil.

[B] Strip cropping

  • Strip cropping has been used in the U.S. (where the fields are larger than those in India), where they grow wheat, along with corn and soybean, in the same farm in an alternative manner.
  • However, this needs large lands. The land is divided into strips, and strips of grass are left to grow between the crops.
  • Benefits: Planting of trees to create shelters has helped in stabilising the desert in Western India.

[C] Soil mulching and no-till

  • Soil mulching requires keeping all bare soil covered with straw, leaves, and the like, even when the land is in use.
  • Benefits: Erosion is curtailed, moisture retained, and beneficial organisms, such as earthworms, kept in place. The same set of benefits are also offered by not tilling the soil.

Significance of the findings

  • This research has led to the conclusion that small farm holders can grow more food and have reduced environmental footprint.
  • Current statistics reveal that our country has a significant population of small farmers, many owning less than 2 hectares of land.
  • About 70% of its rural households still depend primarily on agriculture for their livelihood, with 82% of farmers being small and marginal.


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