Table of content
2.0 Agro forestry
3.0 Crop rotations
4.0 Inter cropping/Mixed crops
5.0 Poly culture
6.0 Water harvesting
Traditional farming is an old method of farming which has been used since earlier times. Over the years, the technology has advanced and modern equipment's are introduced in farming to make it quick and efficient. In spite of the modern farming being used extensively, few methods of traditional farming are still used today and are popular. Inputs that are manufactured in the industry are not much required in traditional farming. Over the centuries, these methods have helped farmers to provide ecological and cultural services to mankind. The preservation of traditional methods of farming has helped in maintaining biodiversity, enhancing food security and protecting the world’s natural resources.
The five traditional farming methods that is still popular today are as follows:
1. Agro forestry
Agro forestry is one of the oldest farming methods that has been used since earlier times. It is basically planting and maintaining trees that can protect the crops by developing the microclimate. It is a management system of land use in which trees are grown around the crops. This forestry technique is useful in controlling the temperature, exposure of sunlight, wind and rain. This combination of agriculture and forestry has innumerable benefits. Due to this method, we can get multiple products like food, timber, firewood etc. Staple food crops which cannot be produced otherwise can be grown.
Other benefits from this system are generating income for farmers, improving in the soil structure and quality, reducing soil erosion, storing carbon etc. This kind of system is commonly found in African continents, Europe and United States. Agro forestry can also restore nitrogen fertility in soil by utilizing nitrogen and fixing plants like legumes. This system has led to production; to diversify crops and ecosystem services.
Agro forestry not only has environmental benefits but it also offers increased productivity in social and economic factors. Due to all these benefits it is still a very popular farming method.
2. Crop rotation
Crop rotation concept was founded by world’s renowned environmentalist Dr. Vandana Shiva. The practice of growing different crops on the same land based on seasons is crop rotation. It has a lot of advantages. It helps in preserving the soil productivity, reducing pests, minimizing use of chemicals, maximizing yields, reducing reliance on one set of nutrients and developing weeds. Earlier the rotation was done using two field systems, which went up to four field systems. The inter relationship of crop depends on how it contributes to soil and produce hybrid off-springs while interbreeding with other crop management systems that controls soil erosion and impacts the surrounding environment at large.
3. Intercropping/Mixed crops
Sowing more than two crops at the same time is Intercropping/mixed cropping. Usually the resources are not utilized properly by a single crop. Hence, to produce a greater yield on a piece of land, intercropping is used. There are various methods of intercropping.
- Mixed Intercropping- This is the most basic form of intercropping. Here the mixed crops are cultivated on the same land.
- Row cropping- Here the crops are grown in multiple rows.
- Temporal intercropping- Here the fast growing crop is harvested before the slow growing crop starts to mature.
Intercropping is different compared to crop rotation. In crop rotation, different crops are grown in a single season while in intercropping, different types of crops are cultivated in a sequence of growing seasons. Intercropping helps in creating biodiversity which further helps in improving pest management. It also helps in fumigating the soil by increasing soil organic matter and restrain weed growth. Hence Intercropping is a local approach that is based on traditional practices which is popular even today.
4. Poly culture
Poly culture is a system to grow many plants of different species in the same area. It increases the plant biodiversity and helps in promoting the diversity in diet in local communities that are adaptable to the climate variation and extreme weather conditions. The various types of poly culture are cover cropping, perma culture and integrated aqua culture.
The main advantage of poly culture is its ability to control weeds, pests and diseases without the usage of chemicals. The opposite of monoculture is poly culture which is the sustainable form of agriculture. It helps in reducing soil erosion and increase in stable yields. It improves the quality of soil. Hence poly culture being the traditional method is still popular today across the world as it provides health and environmental benefits.
5. Water harvesting
Method used to collect and store rainwater which can be used later for agricultural purpose is ‘water harvesting’. It is either collected from a roof like surface or stored deep pit in a well. During monsoon season, the water is collected from streams or a river which is later used by farmers in times of drought or limited rainfall. To increase the sustainable production of farm and food security, new methods are being developed in water harvesting.
Rain water harvesting is one of the oldest methods which are even used for household and residential purposes. It helps in reducing demands on wells and provides portable water. It is used in livestock, watering gardens and other domestic uses. It can also be used in schools, hospitals which are financed by companies or government organizations. It saves money as it doesn’t have high costing methodology.
These are the five traditional farming methods which play a key role in sustainable farming around the world. This traditional knowledge helps in ecological systems and local biodiversity. New methods are developed and using these traditional methods, many advantages can be seen not only for the farmers but also the environment. Quality of food and soil improves. This preservation of knowledge has proved quite beneficial in both urban and rural areas. These are the five traditional farming methods that are popular even today due to multiple benefits they have.