shifting cultivation Farming systems

shifting cultivation farming system. Shifting cultivation and bush fallow system.. Shifting cultivation is a system of farming where a farmer cultivates on a piece of land for some years, until yields start to decrease.

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The farmer now abandons such land and moves to a different location without having the intention to go back to the original area, known as bush fallowing. He may, however, return to the area again by accident.

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slash and burn cultivation


Slash and burn farming is a form of shifting agriculture where the natural vegetation is cut down and burned as a method of clearing the land for cultivation, and then, when the plot becomes infertile, the farmer moves to a new fresh plat and does the same again. This process is repeated over and over.

The soil loses its fertility because the richness of the rainforest is in the trees. As leaves fall or trees die everything is broken down by the soil’s organisms, nutrients are returned to the soil and the tree roots take them up again. Thus continuous recycling keeps everything fertile and growing.

When this no longer happens in a cleared plot it soon becomes infertile. Torrential tropical rains quickly wash nutrients out of the soil when it is left bare after harvest

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disadvantages of shifting cultivation

The disadvantages of this cultivation practice are- it leads to loss of soil fertility , it leads to burning and cutting of trees and advantages the waste material like bush and weeds are easily removed from field and in shifting system of cultivation there is no fear or the danger for the flood and the animals which destroy the crops

bush fallow system

, which is a form of shifting cultivation, the farmer cultivates on a piece of land for two or more years and intentionally leaves it for some years to enable the land to grow into bush and regain its lost nutrients before it can be used again.

In this system, the farmer may not move away from that area completely, but may rotate his cultivation from one portion to another. Simply put, bush fallow system is known as land rotation and that period when the land is allowed to rest, so that the lost nutrients can be restored, is referred to as fallow period. The lost nutrients are restored to the soil through the decomposition of dead plants and animals.

In the past, bush fallowing was made possible due to low population and availability of enough land. But with the increase in population and man’s activities on land, such as road construction, building of schools, hospitals, recreational centres, living houses, industries, churches, game reserves, stadia, etc., there is hardly enough land to Practise this system of farming therefore land tenure system of agriculture is widely practiced

Differences between shifting cultivation and land rotation or bush fallowing

Shifting cultivation is a farming system whereby a piece of land is cultivated continuously for some years and then abandoned as a result of the decline in soil fertility, build-up of pests and diseases, and the resultant reduction in crop yield.

The farmer abandons not only the exhausted farmland but also his settlement for a new farm and a new settlement with no hope of coming back. Whereas, land rotation involves growing crops on a piece of land until it is exhausted and the land is left to fallow for some years before it is used again.

The farmer clears other areas in succession to make new farms while remaining in his farmstead

Advantages of bush fallowing:

(i) Shifting farming system is possible where there is enough land and low population density.
(ii) The soil fertility is easily restored during the period of fallow.
(i) It does not require capital investment on fertilizer.

(ii) It prevents the accumulation and spread of pests, diseases and certain weeds on a particular land or area.
(i) Burning is a feature of shifting system of cultivation and it helps in killing many harmful organisms in the soil

Disadvantages of shifting cultivation or bush fallowing:

(i) Shifting cultivation requires enough land and low population to succeed.
(ii) Many useful organisms living in the soil are usually destroyed during burning
(iii) The system encourages soil erosion.

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(iv) It requires much energy lime and money to clear a new farmland.
(v) Under this system the farmer does not make any meaningful effort to improve on soil fertility.
(vi) It is very tedious moving 1mm one area Lu another, because the farmer may likely move his home to the new area.

definition of shifting cultivation

an agricultural system in which a person uses a piece of land, only to abandon or alter the initial use a short time later.

This system often involves clearing of a piece of land followed by several years of wood harvesting or farming until the soil loses fertility.

Once the land becomes inadequate for crop production, it is left to be reclaimed by natural vegetation, or sometimes converted to a different long term cyclical farming practice.

This system of agriculture is often practiced at the level of an individual or family, but sometimes may involve an entire village.

An estimated population exceeding 250 million people derive subsistence from the practice of shifting cultivation, and ecological consequences are often deleterious.

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