INTER-CROPPING

mixed farming in Kenya.Photo Courtesy.
mixed farming in Kenya.Photo Courtesy.

Mixed cropping is also known as inter-cropping or co-cultivation.
This is type of type of agriculture that involves growing of two or more crops of different species in the same field, at different portions of land at the same time. The essence of intercropping is to allow the crops to work together. It is practiced where the land is not sufficient enough to accommodate large portions to plant individual crops.
Advantages of intercropping
•    It provides work throughout year
•    Efficient utilization of land, labour, equipment and other resources.
•    The crop by products such as straw, bus, fodder etc. is used for feeding of livestock and in return they provide milk.
•    Manures available from livestock maintain soil fertility.
•    It helps in supplying all the food needs of the family members.
•    Intensive cultivation is possible.
•    If one source of income is lost he can maintain his family from other source of income.
•    Milk cattle’s provide draft animals for crop production and rural transport.
•    Mixed farming increases social status of the farmer.
Disadvantages
•    Competition between plants for water, light, space and soil nutrients
•    Not considered to be economically efficient.
•    Harvesting of one crop component may cause damage to the others.
•    Leaf, branch, fruit, or water-drop fall from taller elements can damage shorter ones.
•    Difficult to incorporate a fallow period.
•    Many times very difficult to mechanize multiple cropping systems.
•    Increase in evapo-transpiration loss of water.
•    Possible over-extraction of nutrients.
•    Higher relative humidity in the air can favor diseases.
•    Possible to favor a proliferation of harmful animals.
Social & economic advantages
•    Dependence on only crop is avoided.
•    Less need to import energy.
•    Wildlife is favoured.
•    Reduction in the outlay for fertilizers.
•    Flexibility of the distribution of labour.
•    Possible to recover investments in much less time.
•    Availability of harvest over a much longer period.
•    The farmer of little economic resources can produce a large variety of useful products.
•    Permit a gradual change in more destructive farming practices to more appropriate technologies.
•    Promote a return to the land.
•    Components can constitute a type of “savings” for the future.
Effects of intercropping
Fly paper effect
This form of farming controls movement of best by various crops that create barrier to moving pests. The spores of fungal diseases from infected plants are effectively trapped by non host crop plants thus reducing the effect of disease attack.
Compensation effects
Where a crop in the field is attacked during vigorous growth, other remaining plants will have to compete less for air, space water and manure and yield more. Mixing crops that differ in disease and pests susceptibility the crops performs well throughout the season.
Micro environmental effects
The presence different plants creates a conducive environment for other crop species such as maintaining crop moisture, nitrogen fixing, ground cover among others.

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