The Blending of Crops

Mixed and Supplementary Cropping Icon

January 31, 2022

Our system of integrated farming is designed to utilize every inch of land. The surface, the sub- surface and the space above the surface is to be used 100%.

This is done through 3 main systems of cropping:

  1. mixed cropping
  2. supplementary cropping
  3. crop rotation.

Cultivation should be done on the cooperative basis. Only cooperatives can support the expanding economic requirements of agriculture, like creating ponds, purchasing machinery, uniting local people to pressurise the government for irrigation facilities, etc. Through the cooperative system four crops of rice in a year can easily be grown from any plot of land.

Mixed Cropping

In mixed cropping, two or more crops are grown in a field at the same time.

For example, potato, spices, brinjal, pumpkin and cauliflower are suitable for mixed cropping. Mixed cropping reduces soil erosion and the wastage of agricultural land, and makes better use of water.

It also helps retain the fertility of the soil. For instance, legumes add nitrogen to the soil whereas maize consumes nitrogen. So these crops should be planted together.

Well-selected plant combinations maintain the fertility and structure of the soil.

Supplementary Cropping

Supplementary cropping uses a main crop, and a minor crop as support. This is different from mixed cropping where all crops are major.

Some examples of mixed cropping and supplementary cropping include the following:

  • Sandalwood

Turmeric, ginger, pán and cauliflower can be grown among the sandalwood trees until they are 7 years old. Cauliflower can be grown throughout the year.

  • Sesame

Sesame can be grown as a mixed crop with peanut. Peanut grows its fruits under the ground, while sesame grows its fruits above the ground.

  • Linseed

Linseed can be grown as a mixed crop with soybean. Soybean may be grown along with peanut, sesame or jute.

  • Cotton

Cotton can be grown with sweet juice potato and sweet potato. Cotton can also be grown with brinjal and chilli.

  • Black Gram

Black gram can be grown with turmeric, sugar cane, green leafy vegetables, brinjal, green chilli and radish.

  • Mango

Mango can be grown as a roadside tree. Between two mangoes one palm should be planted – one mango, one palm, one mango, etc. Agave (sisal) can then be grown as a fill up plant between them.

Oranges

Orange trees must be planted 15-20 feet apart. Between two orange trees there should be one coffee tree. Then between the orange and coffee trees there should be two tea plants approximately three feet apart from each other. Between these there should be ginger as a fill up. Each ginger plant should be two feet apart from each other. All the rows should be parallel in a grid formation.

There are no soil or rainfall considerations for oranges, but calcium must be present in the soil in sufficient quantity because it makes the fruit sweet. There are no soil considerations for tea either, but there should be a lot of rainfall which does not accumulate around the plant. Coffee can grow with less rainfall than tea, and it can grow in poor soil.

Suggested orange varieties include:

  • Nagpuri orange (small size)
  • Kalimpong variety (big fruit with space between the skin and the fruit, watery taste)
  • Assam variety (small size, sweet)
  • Silal variety (small size, very sweet)
  • South Indian variety (a little bigger than Nagpuri)
  • Other varieties, including Valencia, Italian, Maltese, etc.

Wheat

Wheat, poppy (ordinary poppy or opium poppy) and mustard can be grown as blended crops. Peas, lentils, khesári, etc. may be planted with wheat as well as poppy.

If any of these plants occupy 10% of a wheat field, the yield of the wheat will be increased so that the production of wheat will be the same as when wheat occupied the whole field. Also, if wheat, peas and khesári are planted together, the production of wheat will be as much as when wheat was grown alone. Yellow mustard, red mustard and the rái variety of mustard may all be sown as mixed crops with wheat. The larger variety of lentil may be cultivated along with wheat as a winter crop after the land has been tilled.

Radish

When growing rainy season radish, miśt́i danta shák (a sweet green leafy vegetable) should be planted in between the radish plants. The seedlings of the radish should be planted with áus paddy. For this the soil should be wet, but not waterlogged.