The Blending of Crops

Crop Rotation for Rice and Banana Icon

January 31, 2022

Rice (Paddy)

The rái and yellow but not the red varieties of mustard, khesári, the small black variety of peas, Bengal gram and lentils (the small variety) can all be sown as “pigeon crops” with paddy.

The rice is planted in Shrávańa, and then in the last week of Áshvina [[the “pigeon crop” is tossed into the field without tilling the soil or applying fertilizers.]] After the rice has been harvested, the “pigeon crop” remains in the field until maturity.

When “pigeon crops” are grown, only three instead of four paddy crops can be harvested in a year, but mixed crops can be cultivated. For example, cow pea may be planted with áus in the month of Aśádha.

After the áus paddy has been harvested, the cow pea stands alone in the field because it has a maturing period of nine months. During this period a second associate crop should be sown, preferably a fibre crop. In such cases the field will not yield four crops of paddy in a year. Other crops such as green gram, radish, onion and in certain seasons pisciculture do not interfere with four paddy harvests in a year.

The system for reaping four crops of rice per year is as follows. All varieties of paddy should stay one month, or one and a half months in unusual circumstances, in the nursery, and two and a half or three months in the field after being transplanted as seedlings.

The following system should be used for planting paddy:

  1. Half of Vaeshákha, Jyaeśt́ha, Aśáŕha and half of Shrávańa – áus paddy.

Plough the field six times in water by tractor. Plough four times in the first two days – two times the first day, two times the second day. Leave the field submerged in water for eight more days. Add organic fertilizers and compost. Plough again two more times. On the last ploughing use NPK (nitrogen, potassium and phosphate) fertilizers if appropriate.

While growing áus paddy, the soil should be wet but not waterlogged. Between every two áus plants, one rainy season radish should be sown. Radish may be sown in the áus field for the entire period. In a transplanted áus field, a “pigeon crop” of green gram may be sown. There should be no accumulation of water in the áus field – water should be able to move freely in and out of the field. Green gram is grown for the second two months. Of all the seasonal varieties of rice, áus paddy gives the lowest yield.

In the first week of Shrávańa the áus is harvested. Plough and fertilize the field again as above to prepare for the next crop.

  1. Half of Shrávańa, Bhádra, Áshvina and half of Kárttika – áman paddy.

No mixed crops can be grown with áman paddy but pisciculture may be cultivated. These fish can be a good animal food for carnivores. Fish such as charamach, koira, guri and rai mach may be produced – that is, small fish, crabs and prawns. For the production of rui or larger fish, a big pond is needed.

During the production of áman paddy there should always be a lot of water in the field. Of all the seasonal varieties of rice, áman paddy gives the highest yield. Its straw is also long and very useful in making mats and other products.

One month before the harvest in Áshvina, the seedlings of early boro paddy should be started. After the harvest, the field should again be prepared as above.

  1. Half of Kárttika, Agraháyańa, Paośa and half of Mágha – early boro paddy.

There should always be water in the field until the time of harvesting. If there is less rain, big onions or garlic can be planted between two early boro paddy plants. These big onions are the sprouted small onion (chachi piaz or sachi piaz) of the previous period. If there is more rain, pisciculture may be cultivated in the early boro field. In the first week of Mágha, the early boro paddy should be harvested.

Special care must be taken to acquire a big onion type which is a winter crop as they need less water. Green gram requires less water than onions. No “pigeon crop” can be grown with áman paddy because there is too much water in the field.

At this time the big onion seeds are not ready and the small onions cannot be planted under so much water. Care must be taken to ensure that the variety of onion used in the early boro field is the type that always remains above water. Onions need water, being 67% water themselves, but they cannot be inundated.

If irrigation water is not available after áman paddy, then the boro paddy should not be sown, but “pigeon crops” may be sown.

Except for áman paddy, there can be “pigeon crops” in every season. After the harvest, the field should again be prepared and fertilizers applied as above.

Boro paddy gives a medium yield compared to the other seasonal varieties of rice. The straw is fairly long, but animals do not like it. Green gram can be grown as a “pigeon crop” in the second two months of the early boro or late boro rotations.

  1. Half of Mágha, Phálguna, Caetra and half of Vaeshákha – late boro paddy.

Late boro is transplanted by the 15th of Mágha. Between every two boro plants, one small onion (chachi piaz) should be planted. Small onion is obtained from the seeds of big onion (boro piaz). Small onion takes four to five months to grow and should be developed in the nursery for the first one or two months before being transplanted.

Seeds from the big onions are used to produce small onions, and the onion tubers (kalik) from small onions are used to produce big onions. Big onions are used both as a vegetable and for seed production. If the big onions are to be harvested for marketing, then the stalk should be twisted down while it is green and about to flower. If this is done the onion grows to its maximum size.

Kusum flower can be planted as a boundary plant around the late boro field and can also be harvested. If there is enough water, pisciculture may be practiced with late boro and hot small onions.

All paddy requires clay soil. Where there is water in the field, care must be taken to ensure that the heads of the paddy stalks are not submerged.

Banana

The land between banana plants must not remain vacant. The following crops can be planted:

  1. Áśáŕha to Kárttika – turmeric and black gram.
  2. Agraháyańa to Mágha – sweet potato or sweet juice potato and winter chilli or winter brinjal.

The seedlings should be quite big.

  1. Phálguna to Jyaeśt́ha – peanut or ginger under the ground and sesame or soybean above the ground.

Spices

The crop rotation for spices should be as follows:

  1. Second half of Phálguna, Caetra, Vaeshákha and Jyaeśt́ha – ginger with soybean.
  2. Aśáŕha, Shrávańa, Bhádra, Áshvina and half of Kárttika – turmeric and black gram.
  3. Late Kárttika, Agraháyańa, Paośa, Mágha – late potato with candani and fenugreek on the mound (with the potatoes) and coriander, anise, and jiira in the canal. Dry and big winter chilli should also be grown in the canal. Big seedlings should be grown so that the plants flower within fifteen days after planting. For one week after planting, the seedlings should be covered with shade to avoid direct sunlight, but in the night they should not be covered.

Sugar Crops

Sugar crops include the following:

  1. Sugar cane

Sugar cane is of Indian origin and comes within the grass group. It is a medium-sized grass. The percentage of sugar produced differs from one variety to another.

Traditionally, sugar cane is planted just before winter, but this system is a bit defective. The best season for planting is the early spring in the month of Phálguna. The cuttings must be brought from at least twenty kilometres away, otherwise they will be prone to pests and disease.

If sugar cane is grown, it should be planted along with late boro paddy. In the month of Jyaeśt́ha, after harvesting boro paddy, the plants should be bundled up with the leaves of the sugar cane. The place between two sugar cane plants may be utilized either for green gram, which grows in sixty days, peanuts, or maize of the taller variety. In the month of Aśádha, after removing the grass, the vacancy between two sugar cane plants may be utilized for growing turmeric. Turmeric requires half sunlight and half shade. It will grow well in sugar cane fields. In the month of Kárttika, after harvesting the turmeric, if a place remains between two sugar canes, it may be utilized for producing sweet potato or sweet juice potato.

  1. Sugar beet

Sugar beet is an all-season crop, but in India it is grown only in the winter season between Áshvina and Phálguna. It may be grown along with potato between two potato plants on the upper portion of the valley, that is, on the mound. The lower portion of the mound may be utilized for growing winter spices. Sugar beet may be produced both with early potato (Áshvina to Agraháyańa) or late potato (Pauśa to Phálguna).

  1. Sweet potatoes

The space between sweet potatoes can be used to cultivate soybeans, cabbage and winter brinjal. The early variety of sweet potato can be grown from Áshvina to Agraháyańa, and the late variety from Pauśa to Phálguna. Green chilli may also be grown, but green chilli is three year crop. In the first year there is a good crop, in the second year there is a medium crop, and in the third year there is a very low crop. For example, if in the first year the production is taken as 100%, in the second year it will be reduced to 40% and in the third year to only 10% to 15%. So it is best that after the second year the old plants are replaced. Cauliflower should not be planted along with the creeping crops. It requires direct sunlight and the creepers will cover it. Cabbage, because it needs less direct sunlight, can be grown along with the creeping tuber vegetables.

After harvesting late sweet potato, select varieties of arum, along with summer creepers like pumpkin, gourd, bitter gourd, water gourd, cucumber, musk melon, watermelon, spinach, etc. should be planted. From Aśáŕha to Bhádra, the land may be utilized for áus paddy, maize, jute, rainy season brinjal or spinach, rainy season chilli, rainy season beans and rainy season creeping vegetables like pumpkin, gourd, etc. A platform must be used in case of such vegetables. In the winter or summer, a platform may or may not be used.

The crop rotation for sugar crops should be as follows:

  1. Áshvina to Agraháyańa – The early variety of sweet potato or sweet juice potato.
  2. Paośa to Phálguń – The late variety of sweet potato or sweet juice potato.
  3. Caetra to Jyaeśt́ha – Arum associated with summer creeper.
  4. Áśáŕha to Bhádra – Áus paddy, maize, jute rainy season brinjal and rainy season creeping vegetables.

Jute

The crop rotation for jute should be as follows:

  1. Vaeshákha – The jute seeds are sown in a seed bed.
  2. Áśáŕha – The seedlings of jute and the seedlings of áus paddy are transplanted. They will both be harvested in Shrávańa.
  3. After this autumn maize can be planted (a two-month crop) along with soybean or radish. Maize and soybean are both harvested in the end of Áshvina. Radish would be left in the field a little longer before harvesting.
  4. Winter crops are planted later, and include wheat, winter vegetables and linseed. Linseed is harvested at the end of winter, in Phálguna. After growing linseed, dhaiṋca must be sown for two months and then plowed into the soil as green manure because linseed takes so much out of the soil. In Vaeshákha, jute and áus paddy can start again.

Poor farmers will be benefited if they adopt such a system, and so will society.

Amongst all the types of culture of the physical stratum, agriculture is the best. We must encourage and develop agriculture.

February 1988, Calcutta

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